River of Gold: The Fraser & Cariboo Gold Rushes
Much of what has been written about the Fraser and Cariboo gold rushes of the mid-nineteenth century is narrowly local in outlook, not intended to connect the events that brought British Columbia into being with the larger forces then at play. In River of Gold, George Fetherling offers a concise and readable narrative of these crucial episodes in the history of the province, the West and Canada as a whole. He describes the individuals who endured unavoidable hardships as they sought elusive success, and sets their activities in the context of politics, economics and international affairs. He shows, for example, how the Fraser rush of 1858 led to the creation of the colony of British Columbia and gave the later province of the same name many of its distinguishing features.
The gold rushes made the world aware of BC’s riches and natural beauty, bringing with them mass migration and the province’s first experience with multiculturalism-a test it passed, but with two deplorable exceptions: the wave of anti-Chinese sentiment that first found expression in mining camps up and down the Fraser, and continuing racism toward First Nations people. They also brought about its boom-or-bust resource-based economy, and led to an unfortunate tradition of political polarization.
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