People came from all over the world. Some traveled from Scotland, England, Germany and even from China. Most came north from San Francisco after the California gold rush ended. They came by ship because there were no roads linking the Fraser River or Cariboo yet. They came to make their fortune in the fantastic new land of the Cariboo!
Becoming a miner in the Cariboo was not an easy task. Once a miner had purchased a license and supplies, he might have taken a paddle wheeler across the Strait to New Westminster. Most likely though, to keep costs down he paddled a canoe with four or five other hardy, adventurous people. From New Westminster paddlewheelers moved up the Fraser River to Fort Yale, which was as far as the steamers could travel.
“There is but one public eating house in the town, and invariably the diet is bacon, salmon, bread, tea and coffee… the charge is $1.00 a meal. No milk or butter is ever seen. It is kept in a miserable log hut partly barked over, and with a dirt floor. Everything is done in the same room – which is no more than 12′ x 14′ and cramped for space, and hot as an oven. At night miners sleep on the floor before a roaring fire at one end of the room.” Lindsay, F.W. The Cariboo Story.
After that, travel was on foot along rough trails. With 70 or more pounds on your back (32 kg), it was hard work. You didn’t travel far in one day.
Some of the trails were old fur brigade trails used by the Hudson’s Bay Company to transport furs down to their Pacific coast out-posts. One was the abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trail which led up from Fort Yale to Fort Kamloops, and the other was a trail that ran from Fort Hope to Fort Kamloops. In 1859, James Douglas authorized the construction of a road (a 4-foot-wide mule trail) called the Douglas Trail from the coast to the interior.