Introduction

Cattle were driven into the Cariboo until 1868 when the growing herds of the ranches in the area could supply the dwindling demand from the goldfields. Traffic on the Cariboo Road, while nowhere near its earlier volume, continued to be steady as the deep diggings in the Barkerville area kept many miners at work and the search for gold moved northward.

A photograph of a freight wagon in front of the 59 Mile House. Click to enlarge,
image opens in a new window

59 Mile House and Freight Wagon. A-03890 – Courtesy of Royal British Columbia Museum

Even though the demand for cattle had lessened from the heady days of the Cariboo gold rush, ranchers were able to make an income supplying the many travellers on the trails and roads, and the areas where miners were still employed. There was also a great deal of optimism among those who saw the potential for the Crown Colony of British Columbia. Negotiations were underway with the new Dominion of Canada to unite the Colony with the Dominion. The terms offered to British Columbia to join the Canadian confederation included the promise that, within two years, the Dominion would commence the construction of a railway, to be completed within ten years, that would connect British Columbia with the eastern provinces. This promise of a railway virtually guaranteed the acceptance of the terms by the people of British Columbia. Many ranchers in the Interior saw the railway as an answer to their dreams. Those with vision and the determination to wait until the eastern markets became available, saw the opportunity to acquire enough land to make their future secure. Utilizing whatever capital they could obtain, these ranchers built up their holdings, acquiring the surrounding properties of their disillusioned neighbours at cheap prices.

Interested?

Click below to explore further

Experience a 3-D Ranch Artifact Listen to a Podcast