Gun-toting gold rush miners

Vancouver Island was the scene of a gold rush in the 1860s, although the colony’s mountain streams never panned out as well as the richer and more spectacular diggings on the Fraser River and in the Caribou country. Many of the prospectors who swarmed north were Americans. Carrying revolvers was illegal but such gun toting was apparently common, as indicated by this item in Victoria’s Vancouver Times, September 13, 1864.

This morning two men were sitting together in a saloon in Waddington alley, talking of their claims on Leech River. Upon a remark made by one that the other’s claim might be jumped if he stayed away much longer, he drew a revolver from his breast and said, “This is the way I would treat anyone who jumped my claim.”

The revolver was on full cock and went off. The ball grazed the inside of one man’s hand and entered the knee of another below the kneecap and flattened itself against the bone. The ball was extracted by Dr. Haggin. We are happy to say the man is not seriously hurt, as he walked away after the operation.

The regulations against carrying firearms, though stringent enough, are not sufficiently enforced. It is true that this was an accident, but that accident would not have occurred had the man not had the loaded pistol with him, contrary to law.

There are a large number of men now in Victoria who have always loaded revolvers with them. This should be looked into by the police.

Unfamiliar Canadian history stories 055

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