Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wilds to Riches documentary

I'm doing editorial revisions on my manuscript for a book I'm writing about Jean Caux, also known as Cataline. He was a pack train operator who came to British Columbia in 1858, and worked at his profession until he retired in 1912. A long haul (pun intended)!

Because his career spanned such a long time, I've got files for each decade, and I'm working on the 1890s right now. A busy time in British Columbia, and culminating with the building of the Yukon Telegraph in 1899, which was a response to the Yukon Gold Rush. Government and industry wanted a way to keep in touch with the remote and somewhat mysterious Klondike.

Cataline also he packed for the miners and merchants of the 1862 Cariboo Gold Rush. So I was OK with sneaking a bit of time away from writing and editing this morning to look at the trailer of a CBC documentary that's showing on July 6th at 7 pm. "Wilds to Riches" is about the characters who have come  to the Cariboo country to seek gold--both past and present. Starting in 1862 and up until right this minute,the search for gold has been a draw, an entrancement and an addiction for many. Some strike it rich, but many more go home broke.

This documentary interests me in two ways. First, because Jean Caux, the guy I'm writing about, packed for years into the Cariboo country. He and his pack train of mules and horses brought supplies up from Yale and later Ashcroft into this area to supply the local miners, merchants, farmers and everyone else. Unless you've ever lived or visited here, and travelled the back roads and trails, you can't imagine how hard these packers worked. Everyone worked hard in those days. The miners had it rough, too. Terrible living conditions, mud in the summer, insects, poor food, and bad liquor. In the winter, cold cold cold, and lots of snow. Many left during the winter for warmer places like Victoria, but some toughed it out and stayed through the coldest months.

And of course, the documentary interests me because I live in Quesnel, in the heart of the Cariboo country. The fabulous historical gold rush town of Barkerville is just down the road, bringing history to life. I have friends and relatives who have placer gold claims, and the signs of how important gold is to the economy are everywhere. Isn't it thrilling, in a way, to know that the shout of "gold" is just a mountain away?

The documentary looks great, and I'm marking the date on my calendar. Check out the trailer here:

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