How did the Cariboo Gold Rush change British Columbia?

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The Cariboo Gold Rush had profound effects on British Columbia. First of all, it attracted thousands of prospectors to what had once been a remote backwater. Most of the prospectors were Canadian or British, although about four thousand Chinese also came hoping to make their fortune.

This gold rush, along...

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The Cariboo Gold Rush had profound effects on British Columbia. First of all, it attracted thousands of prospectors to what had once been a remote backwater. Most of the prospectors were Canadian or British, although about four thousand Chinese also came hoping to make their fortune.

This gold rush, along with the Fraser River Gold Rush three years earlier, greatly increased the overall population of the Colony of British Columbia. This led to the establishment of numerous towns, many of which are still around today. To support these towns and their booming populations, local governments were established, complete with courts, legislatures, and law enforcement.

When gold was first discovered in the region, there was little in the way of infrastructure. In order to facilitate the mass movement of people, roads, bridges, and way-stations were established. The most famous of these is the Cariboo Wagon Road, which, when completed, allowed not only prospectors but the agents of the government to access the region. As a result, British Columbia came more firmly under the control of the government than it previously had been.

The Cariboo Gold Rush also had a profound effect on the indigenous populations of British Columbia. While they had had a working relationship with white trappers and settlers for some time, this new influx of prospectors changed everything. The destruction of habitat ruined countless acres of land that had been used for generations for hunting and farming. Water sources were polluted by chemicals used in processing gold. Many indigenous people were chased off their land if gold was found there. Although some did try their hand at gold prospecting, white miners would regularly take over their claim with little consequence. All this resulted in further cementing the status of indigenous peoples as inferior to that of whites in the region.

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The overall economic, governmental, and cultural development of British Columbia was largely driven by the Cariboo Gold Rush, which began in the early 1860s and succeeded the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush.

During the Cariboo Gold Rush, many people from different cultures participated, which both increased the population of the colony but also diversified the population, helping to build an advanced culture.

In order to accommodate all of the rushers, infrastructure like roads and bridges needed to be built—most notably the Cariboo Wagon Road, which was next-generation technology compared to the existing infrastructure.

The increase in infrastructure, the increase in population, and the financial market based on the gold caused an increased government presence as regulation was needed in these key aspects of civilization. The government presence worked to codify laws and regulations and provide a fair system of justice which citizens could live under.

There were a number of towns and cities that popped up during this time to house the rushers, notably Barkerville, Keithley Creek, the Forks, Antler, and Richfield. These towns catalyzed local economies to provide goods and services to their inhabitants.

Years later when the rush died down, many rushers decided to stay in British Columbia and find permanent work, many of whom became ranchers and continued to advance the civilization and culture.

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The Cariboo Gold Rush of the early 1860s was, unlike the earlier Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, a primarily Canadian gold rush. Although Americans were present in the first wave, the later parts of the gold rush were primarily Canadian and led to settlement within the interior of what was then the Colony of British Columbia. This settlement would trigger later gold rushes, as more gold was discovered in the interior. After the gold rush ended in the 1880s, many of the settlers turned to ranching. 

In addition to encouraging interior settlement, one of the changes the gold rush caused in British Columbia was the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road. The road resulted in bringing needed infrastructure to the colony as well as increased regulation of the gold rush area by the government. The Royal Engineers who built the road constructed other forms of infrastructure, such as the Alexandra Suspension Bridge. The road was so costly to build that it forced the colony into a union first with Vancouver Island in 1866 and later with the Canadian Confederation in 1871.  

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First and foremost, it is important to note that British Columbia experienced two gold rushes. The first one took place in 1858 after gold was discovered on the Fraser River. The second one which occurred in the Coriboo district and which is the subject of this question took place in 1862. Due to the influx of people into Cariboo including immigrants from as far as Germany and China, all of whom had come to chase after the gold fortune, famous towns such as Barkerville, Richfield and Keithley Creek sprund up and there was increased development in the mainland.

In addition to the towns, infrastructure was improved in order to ease the movement of people and materials that had prior been done amid great difficulty. It began in 1859 when James Douglas gave a nod for the construction of a 4 foot wide trail known as the Douglas Trail that connected the coast and the interior. Later on, the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road made transport more efficient as it facilitated the use of wagons that hastened the transport process.

British Columbia experienced an economic boom due to the mining activities going on in its interior. The establishments that provided them with food, accommodation and other supplies before they proceeded to the interior benefited a lot. This opened up British Columbia to settlement by people of non-Aboriginal descent. In summary the Cariboo gold rush improved the economy and infrastructure of British Columbia while at the same time diversifying the population.

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The most important impact of the Cariboo Gold Rush on British Columbia was that the gold rush helped cause the development of the province.  All sorts of infrastructure was created to facilitate the exploitation of the gold deposits that were being mined during this rush.

Before the gold rush, BC had very few people and very little in the way of roads and towns.  The gold rush changed this.  Because of the rush, towns sprang up.  Roads and bridges were built.  Steamboats were brought to move goods up and down rivers.  The government presence in the province increased greatly.  In short, the demands of the gold rush led to the creation of a real infrastructure and to the start of a large permanent population with a real government in what later became the province of British Columbia.

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