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Gammage’s Gold Rush Circle Tour of Fraser River and the Harrison – Lillooet Route

March 13, 2017

James Gammage left Victoria for Fraser River on May 26, 1859 on board the Hudson’s Bay Company vessel Beaver.  He recorded his impressions of the district in an early stage of its development.

“Seventeen miles up the river, on the north bank, stands the site of Queenborough, the future capital of British Columbia.

At present it is a dense forest, with about a quarter of a mile on the river’s edge partially cleared.
The trunks of immense trees lie about in rude confusion, a huge body of smoke in the background and the noise of the woodsman’s axe indicate that the work of clearing is still going on.

A row of cabins, a few framed houses, being the public offices and the residences of officials, and a few stores, comprised the habitations of the place.

The steamer did not stop here.

About half a mile further up, on the same side of the river, is the camp of the Royal Engineers and Marines, with about three framed houses, residences of Colonel Moody and staff: the men are under canvas.

On the opposite side of the river is a revenue post.”

That was a pretty good summary of the area at the end of May, 1859 —  without mentioning the presence of the Indian houses on this side of the river near the Revenue Station.

Just 4 days later, an auction sale was held at  Victoria that fetched very high prices for  those partially cleared “river’s edge” lots.

The Reverend Mr James Gammage had been sent out by the “Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,” a missionary service  supported by the elite of the Church of England.

Gammage’s trip along the new Harrison – Lillooet trail was done in reverse order, as it was built to afford access to Fraser River via Harrison Lake, Port Douglas and Lillooet.

Gammag marked his map at places where he slept overnight.

The Reverend James Gammage would stay on a Port Douglas as the Episcopal parson until 1864.

This “Sketch Map of Part of British Columbia and Vancouver” accompanied a report by James Gammage after his circle tour of the Fraser River gold region in the summer of 1859.






Sketch of the Town of Douglas on Harrison Lake by Oliver Hare

March 13, 2017

Here is a copy of the engraving that appeared in the  Illustrated London News, a clipping from the British Colonist newspaper of Victoria BC, and from the same newspaper, notice of his death.

Port Douglas BC was named by the miners who built the Harrison Lake and Lillooet trail in 1858. They wanted to call the town after Alexandere Caulfield Anderson, who had mapped the route for the Hudson Bay Company in 1846.  In 1858  Anderson was Collector of Customs and took time to travel to the head of Harrison Lake to supervise the start of work on the road. Anderson suggested they name the townsite after the Governor instead.  The town is situated on a small lake, or cove, at the north end of Harrison Lake, then called Douglas Lake and now known as Little Harrison Lake.

The sternwheel steamer Umatilla first came up the Harrison River from Fraser River to enter Harrison Lake on July 24, 1858.  On her return trip she brought a crowd of miners from Victoria, Vancouver Island.


The Town of Douglas And Harrison Lake, – 1864 – Sketches in British Columbia – London Illustrated News


“Views of British Columbia –

When we noticed the excellent views of Harrison Lake, Douglas, and La Fountain, which appeared in the illustrated London News of the 17th Dec, we were not aware that they were taken from sketches by Oliver Hare, Esq., Registrar of the Supreme Court of this Colony. It is not improbable that we shall have the pleasure of seeing some more illustrations from the same source.” – British Colonist Feb 15, 1865.



Wade’s Landing – Frank Wade and Kate Chastaqua

March 6, 2017

Francis Edward Wade was one of the New Westminster contractors who built the North Road to Burrard Inlet in 1859.   F. E. Wade, known as Frank Wade, was born in Quebec in 1836 and came to British Columbia with the Fraser River gold rush. He  is best known for his residence at Port Douglas and at Wade’s Landing, Sumas.


The Town of Port Douglas on Harrison Lake, 1864

After leaving New Westminster,  Wade moved to Port Douglas where he worked on the Harrison-Lillooet Road and for Bridgeman & McKenny. For a short time he served as private secretary to Judge JB Gaggin.

Frank Wade owned property in the townsite of Port Douglas: Lots 2 and 3 in Block 6, on Dallas Street opposite the Government Reserve.

Around 1870 Wade established a landing and store on Fraser River at the north side of Sumas Mountain. It was at the head of a trail which ran across the mountain from Sumas on the south side.

Historian John Gibbard identifies that route as the northern branch of the Whatcom Trail from Bellingham Bay to Fraser River.

View Wade’s Landing and Port Douglas on a Google Map.


Wade’s Landing – Sumas Mountain – Wade’s Creek – Centennial Trail

In 1888 “Wade’s Trail from Sumas across Mountain to Wade’s Landing Fraser River”  was improved by road foreman William Russell with funding from the Province.

In 1871 Frank Wade was married to Kate Chastaqua, who was born about 1840, before Port Douglas was established.

The wedding at New Westminster was conducted by the Presbyterian Minister  Robert Jamieson and witnessed by Wade’s friend Goodwin Purcell of Port Douglas.

The couple do not appear to have had any children.

At Wade’s Landing Frank and Kate ran a store, provided meals and accommodation, and raised livestock. In 1892 Wade received a Crown Grant for 62 acres of land, designated District Lot 477.

Their enterprise came to a halt after about 24 years when Frank Wade fell ill.

Francis Edward Wade died on April 19, 1894. Reports of his death described him as “well known and highly respected.”

Wade left behind a business “in good circumstances,” and fortunately Wade had prepared a Will.

Frank Wade left $200 to his mother, Mrs Jane Wade, of Muscoday, Wisconsin, and then directed that all his property and possessions — consisting of land, residence, store, stock, cattle, etc, —  be sold to fund an allowance for his wife Kate Wade. She would also receive the two lots which he still held at Port Douglas and,

“If means will admit, to have a small house or cabin put up for her to live in on said lots so that she may have a home of her own.”

In the event wife and mother were dead, his beneficiaries would be his friends Goodwin Purcell of Port Douglas and Robert Granville McKamey of Dewdney.

Wade asked that “my friend Robert Granville McKamey of Dewdney” act as sole Executor of his estate.

Kate Chastaqua Wade died at Skookumchuck in 1910.

Frank and Kate Wade were buried in the pioneer cemetery at Port Douglas, two of only a handful of graves that are still visibly marked with stones.

The designation “Wade’s Landing” has vanished and is now known as Cox.

“Wade’s Creek,” which runs down off Sumas Mountain and flows into the Fraser River on their former property, would appear to honor Frank and Kate Wade.

Note regarding the sketch of Port Douglas, 1864

The portion of the picture of Port Douglas shown above is taken from the an 1958 cover of BC Teacher magazine. It is attributed attributed to artist WS Hatton and the original is at the BC Archives.

However, an engraving that appeared in the London Illustrated News,  January 1865, was credited, by the British Colonist newspaper,  to a sketch by Oliver Hare, then Registrar of the Supreme Court.

Oliver Hare was born in Ottery St Mary, Devonshire, England about 1820 and died in British Columbia December 27, 1876 after serving many years as a Government Agent.

The full illustration can be seen by clicking on the Google Map link above.


North Road – The Burrard Inlet Trail Company, 1859-1860

March 6, 2017


On September 2, 1859, Colonel RC Moody signed a contract with a company of seven trail-builders to open a road from the Camp of the Royal Engineers on Fraser River north to Burrard Inlet.  The “North Road”  was completed in February 1860.

A road to a salt-water anchorage on Burrard Inlet was a military and commercial first priority for the Royal Engineers

The opening up of the North Road spurred land purchases along its route, especially by the  company of road contractors, all but one of whom bought lots in the vicinity.

The contractors were Andrew Hardie, Alexander White, Angus H Manson, Francis E Wade, Alexander Cameron, Joseph Clearihue and James Hogg.

They were to receive 70 British Pounds per each of the 5 miles completed, inspected and approved: 25% in cash and the rest in Scrip.

(At the time the Pound was valued at 5 U.S. dollars.)

Scrip, or “Certificate of Claim,” was a voucher to buy land. It was issued in lieu of money that the Colony did not have.

(The ramifications of the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works coining Scrip taxed the best accounting minds of the day — WD Gosset and Robert Ker — so we won’t try to explain it further.)

The seven adopted the name Burrard Inlet Trail Company and started work immediately.

Before the end of September the party had completed the first mile and company secretary Alex White requested Col. Moody to have the work inspected and authorize payment of the first installment of cash.

A month later, from their camp on the north bank of the Brunette River, they reported completions of the second mile.

Approaching Christmas, 1859, the crew was working across the lower eastern slope of Burnaby Mountain.

The trail was completed in February, 1860. Working in fall and winter weather, through the densely forested terrain, they had progressed ar a rate of one mile per month.

In total, the company was paid 93 Pounds in cash and 277 Pounds in Scrip.

Scrip was at that time valued at 10 shillings per acre, for a total value for the company of 354 acres of land.

Even before the trail was finished, the men were snapping up frontage lots along the route.

Below are listed the earliest lot holders in this area.

A Google map includes some adjacent early land purchases.

The name of trail-builder. Francis E Wade does not appear among those who bought lots in this area. He is the subject of the following post.

(We have not researched each lot and in most cases the information is from FW Laing.)

All lots are in Group One, New Westminster District.

Lot No.  –  Purchaser

1 William Holmes
2 Joseph Clearihue (sold to Holmes see Memorandum)
3 RC Moody (Laing) or James Hogg  (History of Burnaby]
4 Angus H Manson
5 Alexander White
6 Adam Turnbull (James Hogg –  src Laing)
7 George W Hodgkinson
8 Andrew Hardie
9 CG Major .
10 JJ Brown
11 Jos. Burr
12 RC Moody
13 W Holmes
14 Joseph Burr
15 Robert Goskirk & Murdoch McMillan

16 Edward White
17 W. Holmes
18 RC Moody

Back of the road –

25 JC Armstrong
27 John S McDonald
28 William Clarkson
29 GC Clarkson
30 Thomas Bennett
40 RC Moody
41 RC Moody
53 JA Reynolds
54 Wm. Hodgkinson
55 Wm. Hodgkinson
95 GW Hodgkinson
191 Alexander Cameron

Dum Dums And Buns: The New Westminster Bridge Shootout

January 15, 2017

On December 21 1934, Vancouver bank robber and jail-breaker James Grant, accomplice John Garvey,  and getaway-car driver William Riley, were captured by police on the Fraser River Bridge in a spectacular shootout.


The bullet-riddled car, windscreen shattered, tires a bit splashy, after running into a barrage of police fire on the Fraser River Bridge. White circlea indicate bullet holes.

Dangerous And Armed

James Grant, 23, had escaped custody in Vancouver on December 14 while awaiting trial for robbery with violence. On the lam he went on a hold-up spree that included robbing a bank in Vancouver.

Reports stated the men were armed with a .32 automatic pistol and a .38 revolver, and for more deadly impact:

“The bullets in their weapons had been converted into ‘dum dums.’”

Bridge Stake-Out

Learning that the three desperadoes would try and make a run for the United States border, police kept watch on the approach to the Fraser River Bridge.

The old bridge, now overshadowed by the Pattullo Bridge and used by trains only, formerly had an upper level deck roadway for vehicles and pedestrians.

Once they crossed the river, mounted the concrete pavement of the Pacific Highway, and opened her up, the motorcar would be making a 20-minute dash to the frontier.

About a dozen heavily armed police officers were involved in the stake-out organized by Chief Constable John Cameron of Vancouver and Chief Peter Bruce of the New Westminster police.

A plainclothes detective stationed at the north end of the bridge spotted the bandits’ car and immediately flashed a signal.

At the south end , the off-ramp was blocked with a car and a flank of officers armed with revolvers and sawed-off shotguns spread out alongside the roadway. (One report said both sides.)

Friday Night Shoppers Watched As Outlaw’s Car Feasted On In Police Ambush

When Grant’s car refused an order to stop and instead surged ahead, it was met with a crackling hail of bullets that brought the vehicle to a halt.

The three men were pulled from the car, miraculously uninjured. Reporters later counted 19 bullet holes in the vehicle.

More astonishing was this matter of fact observation by a reporter:

“Fortunately, the bridge was almost free of traffic at the time of the shooting.”

This all took place around 7 o’clock on a Friday night.

Loot from the bank robbery was found in the car. Grant and Garvey pleaded guilty and before the year was out, were each dealt 10 lashes to start off 10 years in the Penitentiary.

Taken To Another Level: The Bridge Bun Toss

As exciting and dramatic as was this take-down, it was arguably upstaged by a stroke of comic genius.

“One pedestrian, a Chinese, was given a bad fright when he saw an officer running toward the Grant car with drawn revolver.

The Chinese threw a parcel over the side of the bridge, and when recovered later by the police, it was found to contain buns.”

We kind of fancy the Chinese gentleman playing this straight the whole way through.