M615 | New Government Road, Lillooet, B.C.

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New Government Road, Lillooet, B.C.
William George Richardson Hind
1862-1863, 19th century
Watercolour and graphite on paper
13.6 x 22.6 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Landscape (2230) , mountain (585) , Painting (2229) , painting (2227)
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Keys to History

This watercolour depicts a group of natives near a pioneer cabin at Lillooet, situated on the road leading into the Cariboo district of British Columbia. In 1858, during the first gold rush, almost 30,000 gold seekers flooded the banks of the Fraser River in the new Colony of British Columbia. In 1860, a new gold rush erupted in an area just north of the river. In order to provide miners with a better route in, Governor Douglas ordered a road built from Lillooet.

The natives who lived on the banks of the Fraser River were already in contact with representatives of the Hudson's Bay Company with whom they maintained a relationship based on trade in furs, tools and guns. But the arrival of thousands of miners dramatically altered their way of life. For the first time, strangers took possession of lands where native people had lived, hunted, fished and gathered. Native people were left with the impression that their services were not required.

The Chilcotin people, in particular, were unhappy about the road built on their land by the new settlers. Furthermore, they did not appreciate the manner in which they were treated and had good reason to suspect the settlers of spreading smallpox among their people. In 1862 -1863, an epidemic ravaged the colony's native population. Outraged, a party of Chilcotins massacred a group of miners, leading the colonial government to arrest some band members and hang their leaders.

  • What

    Like some of the works of William Hind, this picture illustrates the role played by roads and bridges in the exploration of the British Columbia frontier. As well, it symbolizes the white man's appropriation of traditional native land.

  • Where

    Prior to the 1858 gold rush, natives living on the lands of the Fraser River were part of the Plateau Culture Area of British Columbia. This region is situated between British Columbia's Coastal Mountains and the Rockies.

  • When

    Completed in 1864, the Cariboo Trail extended 650 kilometres alongside the Fraser River between Yale and Barkerville. From 1862, convoys of miners followed the trail into the Cariboo district.

  • Who

    From 1862 to 1864, artist William George Richardson Hind (1833-1889) created numerous illustrations based on the lives of miners in the Fraser River region of the Colony of British Columbia.