In the 19th century version of a ‘get-rich quick’ scheme, the Fraser River Gold Rush (1858-59) followed by the Cariboo Gold Rush (1860-63) brought a flood of hopeful gold miners to the interior of British Columbia, irrevocably altering the future of the area. Prior to 1858, the interior was considered fur-trading territory. The enormous influx of largely American miners (seeking new opportunities after the wind down of the California Gold Rush) caused concern among British officials, causing them to formally declare the area a colony in order to cement their claim. This new colony was initially called New Caledonia but shortly thereafter changed to ‘British Columbia.’
The type of mining practiced during the Gold Rush is called ‘placer mining’, commonly known as ‘gold panning’ because of its use of simple tools such as this gold pan. The pan is used to sift precious gold dust and small nuggets from among the sand and gravel of the river bank. ‘Panning’ an area was also a useful way to sample a particular spot, in order to determine whether additional equipment might be beneficial, such as a sluice.
1973.035.336; Donated by Anthony Taulbut