1858 Fraser River Gold Rushes

Gold was discovered in the lower Fraser Valley in 1857. In the following year, thousands of miners joined the gold rush in B.C. (British Columbia). The first group of Chinese immigrants from San Francisco arrived in Victoria by boat in June 1858. Soon after, more Chinese labourers came directly from Hong Kong to seek a better livelihood in Gum Shan (the “Gold Mountain”).  During the pioneer days, shortage of labour forced the colonial government to rely on Chinese contractors for recruitment of Chinese labourers to build trails and wagon roads, drain swamps, dig ditches and engage in other sorts of backbreaking tasks. The prosperous period of the gold rush was basically over by 1865 and B.C. faced adverse economic conditions. A growing number of unemployed White workers began to blame the Chinese for taking away their jobs because of their willingness to work longer hours for lower wages. Hostility directed against Chinese immigrants emerged in B.C. in the late 1860s and burgeoned in the early 1870s.