Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Claiming the Land: British Columbia and the Making of a New El Dorado

Document type Book
Author Marshall, Daniel Patrick
Publisher Ronsdale Press; Vancouver, B.C.
Date 2018
ISBN 978-1-55380-502-1
Pages xiv, 406 pages : illustrations (some colour), maps


This trailblazing history of early British Columbia focuses on a single year, 1858, the year of the Fraser River gold rush — the third great mass migration of gold seekers after the Californian and Australian rushes in search of a new El Dorado. Marshall’s history becomes an adventure, prospecting the rich pay streaks of British Columbia’s “founding” event and the gold fever that gripped populations all along the Pacific Slope. Marshall unsettles many of our most taken-for-granted assumptions: he shows how foreign miner-militias crossed the 49th parallel, taking the law into their own hands, and conducting extermination campaigns against Indigenous peoples while forcibly claiming the land. Drawing on new evidence, Marshall explores the three principal cultures of the goldfields — those of the fur trade (both Native and the Hudson’s Bay Company), Californian, and British world views. The year 1858 was a year of chaos unlike any other in British Columbia and American Pacific Northwest history. It produced not only violence but the formal inauguration of colonialism, Native reserves and, ultimately, the expansion of Canada to the Pacific Slope. Among the haunting legacies of this rush are the cryptic place names that remain — such as American Creek, Texas Bar, Boston Bar, and New York Bar — while the unresolved question of Indigenous sovereignty continues to claim the land. -- Publisher's website description