Monday, 29 December 2008

Jason Allard

In an article published in the Province of 8 August 1926, journalist Victor Harbord Harbord claimed that Jason Allard was "Slumach's jailer." Legal records of preliminary hearings of the Slumach case of 3 November 1890 (transcripts in Don Waite's collection) show that Jason Allard was the interpeter at that specific hearing and not Slumach's jailer.

False Creek Record

One of the surprises in Don Waite’s recovered collection of Pitt Lake papers is a note written on 29th July 1951 by City Archivist Major J.S Matthews to Vancouver Sun journalist Tom Ardies. The note reads:
The story of the "Lost Creek Mine" is pure rubbish; it was invented about 25 years ago, and has been improved upon until now. Certain weak mind[s] accept it as true.
There are several such stories. Several appeared first in the False Creek Record.
Click on the picture for an enlargement of the note.
Major Matthews’s notes at the City of Vancouver Archives reveal that the False Creek Record never existed and that articles claimed to have been taken from this phantom publication appeared in the Province, between approximately 1900 and 1910, and not in the 1920s. Clearly I must spend some time perusing the Province to look for the “several” Lost Creek gold stories Major Matthews refers to.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Full text of Jackson’s letter found!

Writings about Pitt Lake gold always mention a letter allegedly written by a dying American prospector named Jackson, who, so the story goes, found the treasure, but for health reasons was not able to return to harvest the remainder of “untold riches.”

All publications cite only part of the letter perhaps because the journalist and authors had no access to a copy of the entire text or because the owner was reluctant to share the content in full. Among the few who by their saying had a copy of the letter were Hugh Murray in New Westminster (interviewed in 1939) and Vancouver man named Cyril Walters, a sign-painter (mentioned in newspapers in 1950). Both these copies have disappeared.

Imagine my pleasure to discover the existence of a transcript of one of the copies. This transcript was made by Arthur Wellesley (Dick) Carter, neon-sign maker, probably around 1940 and there are reasons to believe that it was transcribed from Murray’s copy. But there is also a connection with Cyril Walter, the other owner of a copy. Carter and Walter were both signwriters. It is believed that they worked together for a short time and remained friends. On at least one occasion Dick Carter joined Cyril Walter on his yearly trek to the Pitt Lake mountains.

Today, Richard James (Jim) Carter of West Vancouver is the custodian of the Pitt Lake papers of his father and he generously allowed me to copy the transcript of the Jackson letter his father made and to share the full text of this unique document on the Web site.

That will happen soon.

Photo by A.W. Carter.

Saturday, 13 December 2008


The grave records of St. Peters' Roman Catholic Church suggest that Father Morgan gave the Christian name "Peter" to Slumach at his baptism, It is a given name he would have shared with his spiritual guide, catechist Peter Pierre.
Writers about the legendary gold of Pitt Lake sometimes invented a non-Native first name for him, but the only and complete name the man himself and those around him knew during his life time was just "Slumach."
A request for a transcript of the register of Slumach's baptism went out recently to the archivist of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver to confirm that he indeed was given the name "Peter."

Slumach’s Grave Found

Amanda Charnley, daughter of Peter Pierre, Slumach's spiritual helper in prison, told Don Waite in 1971 that Slumach was buried in an unmarked grave in Sapperton.

To Archie Miller and Dale Miller (A Sense of History Research Services) goes the honour of having rediscovered Slumach’s grave. They found undisputable evidence that Slumach was buried at St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery in Sapperton and where he was buried there.
An old church book shows: Peter Slumach, St Peter's Cemetery, Date: January 16, 1891, Died at NW Goal.

St. Peter’s plot book shows his grave’s location: Block 9, Lot 13A, the name Peter Slumach and the year: 1891.
The Millers became aware of this information as they were collecting background information for two New Westminster cemetery books they are working on.

Archie and Dale Miller are also preparing new cemetery tours on the theme “murder, mayhem, etc,” including a visit to Slumach’s unmarked grave and a “long list of folks with connections with Slumach.”

Click here to read the "Lost and found in cemeteries" column in the 29 November issue of the New Westminster Record where the Millers published their finding of information about Slumach's grave.

Friday, 12 December 2008

The Past Recovered !!

In September 2001, Donald E. Waite made a trip to the top end of Pitt Lake to enjoy a "golden moment" in the hot springs at Second Canyon with his two sons, Kevin and Nathan and his old friend Victor Loffler. He took with him a bound volume with documents he had compiled over the years about Slumach's Lost Mine of Pitt Lake. Back home, when he needed the book he could not find it anymore. He was convinced that it was lost on that Pitt Lake trip, the latest victim of Slumach's curse!
Imagine Don's surprise when at a recent signing session of his book Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows: A History in Photographs someone came up to him with in his hands the volume he thought lost forever.
Greg Henderson found the book as part of the content of an abandonded storage locker he had purchased. He could have offered it for sale on e-Bay, but recognizing its value to the collector of the documents, he generously decided to return the book to Don instead, not wanting more for himself than a photocopy of this 200-plus page book.
The photo shows Greg (left) and Don Waite (with the book in his hands). The book contains some wonderful surprises that will be made available on the Web site in the coming weeks.
How did the book end up in the locker? Ask Don next time you see him!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Father Morgan

A few minutes before 7 o’clock Father Morgan baptized Slumach, who professed his belief in Christianity, and the hope of salvation. (Columbian, 16 January 1891)
PLACE OF BIRTH: Diocese of Newport [Cardiff], Wales
DATE OF BIRTH: October 1, 1859

William entered the novitiate at Belmont House, Ireland, on January 21, 1886, and made profession on March 19, 1887. He left for British Columbia, took his perpetual vows in New Westminster on April 25, 1888, and was ordained priest there on May 5, 1889, by Mgr. Louis D'herbomez, Vicar Apostolic of British Columbia.

Fr. Morgan worked first at Collège Saint-Louis in New Westminster (1888-1892), then in the parish in the same town (1892-1901) and in Holy Rosary Parish in Vancouver.

Returning to Ireland, he was assigned to Glencree (1904-1905), to Holyhead (1905), to Philipstown, Ireland (1905-1906) and to Sicklinghall, England (1906-1909).
Fr. Morgan left the congregation in 1909, and entered the ranks of the secular clergy in the Diocese of Newport.

Information courtesy Fr. André Dubois omi, Archives Deschâtelets, Oblats de Marie Immaculée. Ottawa,ON

Monday, 24 November 2008

Mike Boileau

Mike Boileau was lured into the mysteries of the Lost Creek Valley in 1979. He looked without succes for the famed tent-shaped-rock in the Spindle Cayon but found material with significant traces of gold and the wreck of a Mitchell B-25 sitting right on top of a mountain. The photo(© Mike Boileau) shows Mike's lawyer-friend Thomas Sprague standing next to the remnants of the B-25. Click on photo for enlargement. In later years the wreck inspired stories about its mission and cargo, one involving "Nazi Gold."
Mike's suspenseful story, this time told by himself, will soon be published on

Monday, 3 November 2008

Bridal Veil Falls at Pitt Lake

This postcard picture (taken around 1906) showing the "Bridal Veil Falls," was taken by New Westminster photographer W.T. Cooksley.
NOTE: 24 November. Based on recent photographs of the falls taken by Doug King it is quite possible that these falls are now known as the Defrauder Falls. Doug will return to the falls in April or May next year to get "another picture from as close an angle to your original as I can." To be continued! Thanks Doug.

Friday, 31 October 2008

R.W. Nicholson's Lost Creek Mine book now in print

R.W. (Bob) Nicholson's book Lost Creek Mine, Historical Analysis of the Legendary Gold Deposit of Pitt Lake to date only available as an e-book, is now available in print through XLibris. Click here for information and to order.
Lost Creek Mine contains some but not all of the letters written by G.S. "Stu" Brown to BC Government officials claiming that he had found the legendary Pitt Lake gold deposit. Nicholson has made the complete Stu Brown letter collection available (downloads only) through Lulu. Click here.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Defrauder Creek

Defrauder Creek -- BCGN Official name: "Adopted 3 July 1963 on 92G; an established local name according to Geological Survey of Canada field staff."

It would be nice to know how the creek earned the name "defrauder" that is "a person who swindles you by means of deception or fraud" per definition. I wonder if it has anything to do with the workings of "Slumach Lost Creek Mine Ltd." in that area in 1952/1953, finding nothing and leaving their investors with not more than a piece of paper and a lost dream.

Monday, 29 September 2008

BC Culture - Dick Garneau

Note that Slumach is mentioned on a page "Early Years" on Dick Garneau's interesting and informative Web site Canadian History Directory as follows:
1891 -- January 16 : New Westminster, B.C., Old Slumach an Indian is hanged for the murder September 8, 1890 at Lillooet Slough about 2 1/2 miles above Pitt River bridge, of Louis Bee a half-breed who had insulted the old Indian. Some believed that with the death of Old Slumach knowledge of the location of a rich gold deposit in Pit Lake country was lost.
For more abbout Dick Garneau and his unique Web site click here.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Lost Gold Mine of Pitt Lake BC

This summer Douglas DuHamel joined the choir of those who claim that Slumach was "... the only man who knew about the gold mine at Pitt Lake." Click here to read his copyrighted contribution!

Monday, 1 September 2008

August Jack's Mine

In December 1951, Bruce Larsen interviewed Chief (August Jack) Khahtsahlano, "the only Indian still living who knows the whole story." That was about "Slumach's Mine," but what about "August Jack's Mine"?

R.C. (Dick) Winkelman has been told that August Jack and a few others had a mine somewhere on the North Shore but that it caved in and killed two and for that reason it became tabu. "The Natives in Squamish hiked to the north arm [Indian Arm] of the Burrard Inlet. It took 14 hours and they camped overnight. In the morning August Jack would show them some nuggets, but never told where he got them."

Friday, 29 August 2008

C.V. Tench

The story that Slumach would have murdered several women to prevent them from telling the location of his legendary gold mine dates back to 1939 (Hugh Murray/Jack Mahony).

Prolific pulp writer C.V. Tench created some Gothic tales about it, enlivening the stories with "authentic" photographs of the "victims" and other imaginary players. Transcripts of these articles are on the Web site. To get an idea of what else C.V. Tench wrote just Google "C.V. Tench." He also produced articles under a number of pseudonyms. C.V. Tench's imagination was boundless.

Very little seems to be known about Charles Victor Tench. His death certificate shows that he died in Vancouver General Hospital on 17 December 1963, 71 years of age, of arteriosclerosis. He lived with his wife (nee Edith Maud Petersen) at 66 West 12th Avenue. He was born in Hampton England in 1892 and migrated to Canada (British Columbia)around 1930. His widow seems to have moved away from BC after his death. There are no known relatives.

Anyone who knows more--please post a note.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


From Monte Gibson the following e-mail and the photo alleged to show Eneas George:

Just saw your blog about Slumach, and noticed the photo of Slumach as reported by C.V. Tench [1939]. The funny thing is that C.V. Tench also used that same photo in one of his articles for Factual Detective Stories #7, March 1942, except the name of that person is Eneas George, a Nicola Indian, who was one of three Native brothers executed for the 1934 murder of 2 police Constables on the Canford Reserve.

Thought you might find the discrepancy of interest. Who knows what C.V.Tench was thinking, and perhaps was using the same photo for numerous articles, if he could not find an accurate one to accompany his articles. Weird.

Monday, 11 August 2008

X Doesn't Mark the Spot

The latest book by Ed Butts titled X Doesn't Mark the Spot, is now available at the bookstores. As the publisher, Tundra Books, puts it: "Anyone who has fantasized about becoming fabulously rich overnight can relate to this collection of treasure hunt stories — tales of buried pirate gold, of hidden outlaw loot, of wrecked ships loaded with valuable coins and jewels, and of “lost” gold mines." Written for readers from 10 to 12 years, it is a good read for any age group. As a bonus: a chapter on the tale of Slumach's gold closes the book.

Sunday, 10 August 2008


A 1921 article I came across recently tells about a frantic race by two competing Seattle groups to stake "a Pitt Lake Valley," ending with the following comment:
The Seattle men are much more excited about the possibility of finding gold around Pitt Lake than the old-time prospectors who have worked the district for many years.
"Shuck," said a gray-haired veteran, "I wouldn't go across the street to stake that valley. And yet, every ten years or so, there is a new gang goes in with dreams of buried treasure. There's enough stakes in there now to keep those Seattle fellows in firewood for a month."

Volcanic Brown 1931

"Snow has fallen for 16 days in the search area," said the newspapers.
Not only Volcanic Brown went missing that fall of 1931. Oscar Sneve (39) from Mission BC, who "had left on a deer hunting expedition," succumbed on 17 November 1931. The search for Nurse Mary Warburton, who had left Squamish mid-October to hike to Indian Arm and Vancouver was abandoned by the end of November. In 1926, Mary Warburton, hiking from Hope to the Okanagan, got lost and for five weeks survived on berries and roots until she was rescued. This time she was not that lucky. The search for Volcanic Brown was abandoned after Game Warden Stevenson and Forest Ranger McMartin returned having found "no trace of him."

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Goldrush 1900

Found in US newspapers, fall 1900:
A mild sensation has been caused in New Westminster, B.C., by the discovery of $12.50 in gold as big as flaxseed in the crop of a wild goose which was killed at Pitt Lake, 28 miles from New Westminster. Many prospectors have started for the scene of the supposed gold placers.
The story reminds one of that other one dated 1889 about John Murray's duck killed for table use. Mrs. Murray found "a handsome gold nugget" in its crop, of less value than the 1900 find, but enough to cause people to stake claims at Port Moody.

A surprise find

Thanks to Don Waite who showed me this Web site

On that site I found that in 1915 at least a dozen minor US newspapers published an article from New Westminster showing that the Slumach/Jackson treasure stories were already circulating then. The article is about a veteran 72-year-old Pitt Lake prospector, Wilbur Armstrong, with ten years experience heading search parties into the Pitt Lake area. The story tells about Walter [!] Jackson's find, death, letter (brief quote about the cayon) and map. Armstrong was not, it seems, the only one guiding search parties into the area and these guides could well have been at the cradle of the stories. Transcript of the article will be posted shortly. There should be a version in a New Westminster newspaper.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Two more nuggets

I was aware that Janusz Piekalkiewicz's book Schatzsucher haben noch Chancen (Treasure Hunters still have a chance) contained something about the Lost Creek gold and listed the book for that reason on the lists on the Books & Links page of the Web site. This morning I received a copy and find a 6-page article "Das Geheimnis des alten Indianers" (The secret of the old Indian). A translation will be made available--soon.

Also received this morning is a copy of the Winter 1973 issue of Treasure Trails of the Old West, with a lengthy article "Bluebeard's Lost Gold" by T.W. Paterson. I am working on a transcript right now.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Pretty wicked ...

From Evan H. E-mail: evanwilliam87(at sign)
Click here for pictures.
Evan H, who grew up in Williams Lake BC and now lives in Sydney Australia, visited relatives and friends in BC earlier this summer. He writes:
I went out to the Stave area a few times before I had to go back to Sydney where I live. I was trying to get to Glacier Creek most of the time and on all of the outings some sort of factor got in the way. The first day I just kinda went walk-a-bout in the divide between Stave and Alouette Lake. Beautiful area. Found a collapsed cabin and another one that was in really good shape at the top of Alouette Lake. The next time I was out didn't get to far till I was scrambling down cliffs and just a bit of bad luck with the machete I was holding and I had to back track to get to a hospital. I had pretty wicked cut to the my finger but it was only six stitches to get it back together. The next week I took the canoe and was fine till I rounded the head onto the lake proper and then the wind was killer and had to turn back. The closest I did get was only to Moss Rock. So my next trip back to BC will have to be when I get it done.
79 Hill
I did do a lot of hiking around 79 Creek. I found a bit of gold around it too. I followed the creek to the headwaters looking for any evidence of placer work or hard rock but didn't see anything of interest in that respect. There was a very nice looking quartz pyrite ledge at the top at some exposed bedrock round the creek. I found a bit of gold there too that was very rough. The other place that was kind to me was just below the old logging bridge. I reckon there has been a lot of people there though but it still had a few pieces. The other hike to note was following the GPS coordinates on Minfile to find the 79 Hill (Oro) mine. [Charles A. Miller, The Golden Mountains, Chapter 3, “The 79 Hill Lode”]. I got to the area that matched the coordinates I had I guess from Google Earth but there was nothing that I could see. But it was very rugged and it could have been 20 feet from me and I would have passed it. It may also have been under snow. I was hitting snow at 800 meters in places and by 1000 meters it was regular. It is a pretty amazing area the Stave, I must say that I have more respect for those oldtimers

Friday, 11 July 2008

"Having lost most of his toes..."

Suggestions that in 1926 Volcanic Brown cut off more than one toe are exagerated.

The British Columbian of 22 October 1926 reported that Brown's left foot was "badly frozen" and that he had "...amputated the small toe of his left foot with a hunting knife." There is no evidence that he lost more than just that one toe and, after healing, the loss of that single toe would not have interfered with his activities.

The Columbian also tells us that "Brown refused to go to the hospital and insisted on registering at the Holbrook Hotel, his 'hang-out' while in the city." The journalist obviously was close enough to Brown to report the facts. His source may have been Constable Elliott who accompanied Brown on his return to New Westminster and "...who showed evidence of having been through a tough struggle. He had not shaved for a week."

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Run of the River Project

All you ever wanted to know about the Upper Pitt River Run-of-River power project proposal. Click here.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Claiming the right way!

From a letter by A.C. [Fred] Rogers, 3 June 2008.

After the startling photos [see note below] in the Province [23 April 1952], a mountain-climbing friend [Howie Rode] suggested we should take a trip up there and see what this group did. I recall it was April when we made the trip in Howie's canoe from Gillies Quarry on the Pitt. It was a considerable distance. We were prepared to stay overnight at Defrauder Creek in a cabin abandoned by the loggers. The cabin was in fair condition and we started hiking up the logging road.

After about a mile we came to snow and the trail was well packed by the other men. Black film tabs from Speed Graphic press cameras littered the trail. The snow became a lot deeper but it was now packed and easy going. Their trail ended where a tree was cut for a mining claim post. But this wasn't legal with just one post. Howie had a prospector’s license so we spent the following day cutting trails and marking the required claim posts.

After staking the claim posts we returned to our canoe. The weather had changed and it looked ugly. The lake can be a real beast and it was dangerous. So we hugged the shore in case of a spill. About half way down, a roaring hail storm came up the lake and we covered ourselves. That hail was roaring but ended soon so we safely reached the car and home.

Howie Rode asked me if I wanted to be a partner in the claim but I told him I think this is a publicity stunt to promote newspaper sales. I know a lot of mining history with vivid stories from BC. I also liked exploring abandoned mine sights but would never enter one, knowing it could be fatal.

So Howie filed the claim and then told the newspaper men that their claim wasn't recognized by omission. They were raving mad. But when it settled down they paid $500to Howie. He was lucky and I said I have no regrets about it. We often went climbing mountains with the Canadian Alpine Club which the both of us were active members.

Note: After paying off Howard Rode, the journalists went out again and staked another eight claims in the same area--doubtless in the correct way.

22 July 2008
This and an full account of Howard and Fred's expedition can now be found in the Web site Miscellania section. Click here to read the entire file.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Verfluchtes Gold

Click here to find a 50-page book (unfortunately only in German) titled Verfluchtes Gold (Cursed Gold) by Anton Lennartz. Lennartz did the scouting and was the team leader for Mineworks Film's documentary "Der Fluch des Indianergoldes" directed by Frank Mirbach and presented by ZDF. Rob Nicholson provided expert advice for this documentary.

One of Lennartz's references unknown to me is a book by Janusz Piekalkiewicz called Schatzsucher haben noch Chancen, (Treasure Hunters Still Have Chances) published in 1975.

Saturday, 24 May 2008


Reading the following sentence, in Don Quixote, I couldn't help but think about the legend of Pitt Lake gold.
… a history known to children, acknowledged by youth, celebrated, and even believed by the old, and despite all this, not truer than the miracles of Mohammed.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Slumach and Riel

It is suggested that Slumach's hangman also hanged Louis Riel in November 1885. The execution of Louis Riel was done by Jack Henderson but it is not likely that he was the executioner of Slumach. In 1888 Henderson made a mistake and as a consequence he was never permitted to officiate again. Still, the executioner of Slumach, though not the hangman of Riel, may well have had some connection with the Batoche Rebellion.

Robert Hodson was the excutioner in 1885 of nine Crees associated with the Rebellion. Having noticed his expertise he was invited to move to British Columbia a couple of years later....

Information about Henderson and Hodson: Frank W. Anderson, Hanging in Canada, Heritage House, 1982.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

GOLD...just gotta find traces and then look for the holes.

Perhaps you missed the following correspondence? Left out are the parts discussing the legal ways to find gold. Click here to go to the original entries.

flipper 01-18-2007 Been wanting to get a pan and some time. Whats the licence for, is ilegal to find gold? What would the value be of the piece on the dime? I would imagine a lot of creeks would carry gold, just gotta find traces and then look for the holes.

BrentG 01-18-2007 apparently there is supposed to be a "gold valley" up behind pitt lake Slumachs mine, should pan upper pit river and see what comes up. I noticed a claim plot tag at the entrance to six foot under when I was there.

flipper 01-18-2007 there were some interesting stories I've heard from some old guys about.

cookie 01-22-2007 yup good old slumac stories. pitt meadows city hall has a book on all that ado back in the day, pretty interesting stuff too. my old man brought it home a few years back and i had a chance to read it. it tells everything bout the area incliuding all the companies tryin to dyke the land and whatnot.theres even a story bout a farmer who plowed his field one year only to find a sturgeon living in the mud after years of being dyked that was pretty neat.

flipper 01-22-2007 Don't know but I still wouldn't mind looking up there. A prospector named Volcanic Brown made a few trips out behind pitt. always bringing back gold then was found frozen in the ice fields on his return with a sack of nuggets (not chicken).

BeerBaron Sr. 01-22-2007 the Pitt Lake gold stories are just stories,the Gold Commisoners knew this in the 1800's when Slumack was turning in his "gold find",he was actualy ambushing miners returning from the gold fields in Barkerville.

flipper 01-26-2007 Well you cant belive every thing you read but thats what it said in the book I read that was called Kwant stan or something like that.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Gold Prospectors

The May/June 2008 edition of Gold Prospectors has a wonderful review of Slumach's Gold introducing the book to new readers in the US and Canada. The magazine can found on many newsstands--I found mine at Save-on-Foods.

Gold Prospectors & Treasure Hunters in the Great Outdoors is a bi-monthly publication of the Gold Prospectors Association of America. Their Web site is

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Anyone knows a Slumach song?

"Someone" has heard a CBC program, live from the Commodore Ballroom one evening, and they'd had a Celtic music bit where they sang a song about Slumach's gold and Louis Bee! Been trying to track it down, without much luck so far. Anyone out there who could help? Send me an e-mail to or add a comment to this entry please?

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Pitt Meadows Paddling Club

In 2007 the Pitt Meadows Paddling Club (PMPC)started their programs on the south west shore of the Alouette River at the Harris Road Bridge. Their area of operation is familiar to Slumach students as Lillooet Slough where Bee was killed with a gunshot. To learn more about the Club click
Note: 29 April 2008. The PMPC added a news item to their site. Click here to read it.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Ardent Spirits

From: Douglas L. Hamilton, Sobering Dilema, Ronsdale Press, 2004.

p. 35 "By 1880, there was one licenced bar for every thirteen people in New Westminster."

p. 45. "After the union of the two colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia in 1886, Native liquor laws were tightened even more. Penalties were increased to a $500 fine for selling. one third of which went to the informer.... Persons possessing alcohol in a Native dwelling could be fined $500 and sentenced to six months in prison for a first for a first offence--or to a year of hard labour for the second offence. Guilty children under the age of sixteen were whipped in private."

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

A thousand pounds of gold

Brian Antonson, counted no less than 27 folks in attendance for his presentation yesterday evening for the Langley Historical Society. Brian harvested some good information. The most interesting one coming from a gentleman who claimed he talked with Shotwell's granddaughter, who told him that Shotwell and Harrington had taken out 1,000 pounds in gold but had lost it somehow on the way back to San Francisco...

Friday, 21 March 2008

The Ballad of Volcanic Brown

Click here to visit "Kettle Valley Brakemen" site and click here to listen to a sound sample of "The Ballad of Volcanic Brown."

Volcanic Brown's letters 28 May 1924

N.L. (Bill) Barlee's article "The Lost Mine of Pitt Lake," that first appeared in Canada West Magazine , winter 1970, includes what Barlee claimed is a "verbatim reprint" of a copy of the original Jackson letter. Barlee suggested that the copy was enclosed "in one of the letters [more than one?] from Brown which was dated May 28, 1924" and by that virtue "This is the only dated [by a 1924 postmark] and authenticated [by the fact that it came from Brown]copy in existence." Unfortunately Barlee choose to transcribe the "original copy" of the "Jackson letter" rather than showing a facsimile that could have added to his claim of authenticity.

Also in this article Barlee did include a facsimile fragment of one of Brown letters dated May 28, 1924, (shown above-click for enlargement) and added that "both the letters and the signature are bona fide." Why did Barlee not give us the entire content of the letter(s)? Judging by the fragment it would have enriched our knowledge of "Volcanic" Brown's exploits in the Pitt Lake area about which we know next to nothing. If he was not at liberty to reproduce the content in full, he did not say so. Nor do we know where Barlee found these letters or to whom they were addressed.

I would be very suprised if these Volcanic Brown letters ever existed

Note: Transcribing has perils. In his version of the "Jackson letter" Barlee writes 'Frisco Examr.,’ putting quotation marks on both sides of the newspapers name. C.V. Tench -- the first to refer to the paper writes 'Frisco Examr. using one quotation to mark the missing word "San" in San Fransisco.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

"A Speculative Investment."

Mr. Nick Roman--born in Chilliwack and now living in Florida--sent an image of a stock certificate of the Slumach Lost Creek Mine Ltd. he'd purchased back in 1952. He also sent copy of a letter from the Company, dated 20 November 1952, reporting negative results of the prospecting and geological work done. The engineers they hired had "failed to locate the Lost Mine or any indication [of]either a 'cache' of gold, a gold bearing vein or a placer deposit" on the claims of Slumach Lost Creek Mine Ltd. Click here to read Mr. Roman's comments and view the certificate and the letter. Mr. Roman does not remember having received "any further words" after that letter.

The Slumach Lost Creek Mine Ltd., incorporated in September, 1952, was the brainchild of a couple of journalists who wanted to raise money “to prove or disprove once and for all the legendary stories.” The company was closed down at the request of the Superintendent of Brokers in Victoria when "investigation showed no commercial ore." The shareholders did not get any return on what was advertised as "A Speculative Investment."

The Company not finding a trace of gold did not stop others to keep looking at other places.

For a look at the prospectus of the Slumach Lost Creek Mine Ltd. click here.

A Tall Tale

From Dynamite Stories, Judith Williams, Transmontanus-
New Star Books, Vancouver, 2003

p. 85 How stories like this grow, how nuggets of fact are found, rearranged, transposed and beaten into, well I could go on, but the story is pure gold. Combine a Native curse, Volcanic Brown and his buried jars of nuggets and his missing body ... and what we have ... is an archetype.... [A] boy’s adventure and the missing girls’ tragedy. Remember the teen-age girls? They never returned from their journeys with Slumach.
The constant is the tall tale, containing just enough verifiable elements to undermine disbelief, and how it moves through groups, is transformed and persists.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Barkerville Gold

From Bill Simpson:

I have a fragment that you may think is worthy of adding to the [Slumach's Gold] story. I am almost 83 years old and I grew up in Langley seeing, and being curious about, the newspaper articles regarding the many attempts to find the gold.

Sometime during the '70's I was hired to do a brief survey of a slag deposit at the site of the old smelter at Anyox, B.C. During the idle chatter on the flight in I mentioned that another attempt to find the "mine" was in the news. My new employer then identified himself as having previously been in a very senior position at the Department of Mines and added something to the effect that "they" had that tall tale figured out.

What makes his story plausible is the fact that the purity of placer gold can vary considerably depending on the source, and thus can be used to identify the source. He said that the gold that Slumach brought out from the Pitt area was "Barkerville gold" and that the Dept. of Mines was pretty sure that, somewhere north of Pitt Lake, he would travel east to the Fraser River. There he would waylay miners (probably many Chinese) coming down from the gold fields and dump their bodies in the river. When he had enough gold he would retrace his steps to the Pitt and thus complete the illusion that the gold came from the Pitt area.

This story sounds as good or better than any other I've heard, but who knows? The source sounded pretty sure of himself.

The premise of this account is that Slumach had gold to show, something not confirmed by any contemporary records. The provenance of the sample allegedly essayed by the Department of Mines is unknown and there is no evidence linking this sample with Slumach other than the words of the informant

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Slumach's Grave

I've heard it said that Slumach's body was buried at the Maple Ridge cemetery, but I doubt that is correct.

The oldest part of the Maple Ridge cemetery dates back to around 1865. In those early years, burials of First Nations people were not allowed here and it is unlikely that Council would have agreed to accomodated the hanged of New Westminster.

In the early 1900s the cemetery was extended to the east and the north. It is in this later, northern part where it is said, bodies of those executed in New Westminster were laid to rest until abolition of the death penalty in 1961. This in itself is an interesting story and worth investigating. But since Slumach died in 1891 before the extension of the cemetery he is not one of those buried there.

If he was not buried in Maple Ridge, where was he buried?

It is unlikely that Slumach's remains would have been returned to his people. I know of one similar case where the return of the body of a hanged young Maple Ridge man to the family was refused.

It is generally assumed that his remains would have been buried on the grounds of the provincial jail, later the T.J. Trapp Technical School,(now the site of John Robson Elementary at 120 Eighth Street) but it is, I think, more likely that he was buried somewhere in the "potters' field" at Eighth Street and Eighth Avenue in New Westminster (also known as the "Douglas Road" cemetery), now the site of New Westminster Secondary School. Here is where those who died in prison of natural causes, and whose bodies were not claimed by their family, were buried.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Slumach's Gold

alleged are tales
of old Slumach's hidden cache
somewhere in these hills


Friday, 29 February 2008

Slumach Lost Creek Mine Ltd.

Roger and Marlene Manson of Burnaby have in their possession a stock certificate of the Slumach Lost Creek Mine Ltd. made out in the name of Roger's father, George Matusek (who later changed his name to Manson). The certificate is dated 18 September 1952. They kindly permitted me to scan the certificate and publish it on the Web site. Click here to look at it.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The Famous Volcanic Brown

"Volcanic Brown, the famous BC Prospector who disappeared while seeking for the famous 'Lost Mine of Pitt Lake,' was noted for his matched team of black horses, his solid gold teeth and slit glasses." .... and those solid gold teeth ended up in that glas jar, eh?
Province 10 April 1952: "Volcanic" Brown is stated to have disposed of his interest [in Copper Mountain] for $45,000. He celebrated the event by visiting a dentist and ordering a set of gold teeth.

Port Moody Placer Diggings

From the Weekly British Columbian, summer 1889

Mr. John Murray has a large flock of ducks which feed in the water at the extreme head of the [Burrard] Inlet, and a stream and at the mouth of a stream that empties into the salt water at this point. One of the ducks was killed on Tuesday for table use and on opening the crop Mrs. Murray was astonished to find a handsome gold nugget, which, when weighed, indicated a value of $1.25. Much speculation was the result of the find and many where the opinions and theories expressed by old miners on the subject. The result of the discovery is that several claims on the creek and at the head of the inlet have already been staked, and immediate steps will be taken to test their richness.


At Slumach's trial on 14/15 November 1890 one of the witnesses for the defence is a man called "Moody." Generally it is thought that this witness was George Moody, the son of a Native woman and Sewell Prescott Moody, the lumber exporter of Moodyville, now North Vancouver.

The Daily Columbian of 14 November 1890 refers to this witness as "Moody, an Indian." Was this witness George Moody or was it someone else.

Going through the 1889 Police Court reports I came a few times across an Indian called Moody, a repeat offender hanging around in New Westminster for most of 1889. The following clipping, the last in 1889 showing his name, mentions that he is from the reserve in Harrison. That would link him to Seymour (who was the only witness to the murder of Louis Bee). Was this perhaps the Moody mentioned in the court records as a witness for the defence? And if he was not George Moody, who is this man?

Police Court (before T.C. Atkinson, P.M. and P. McTiernan, J.P.)
Moody, the chief of all vagabond Indians, graced the dock again this morning with his ugly countenance on charge of being drunk. Last July Moody was ordered by the court to return to his rancherie [reserve] on the Harrison River, there to remain three months in quiet seclusion as a sort of penance for his all round wickedness. As was expected, Moody failed to keep his promise, and although he got drunk repeatedly in a quiet sort of way, it was not till yesterday that the police caught him napping. When asked if he was guilty of the charge, Moody seemed grieved that the court should put such a useless question and replied “Of course I was drunk.” Fined $5.00.

Unfortunately I have to go back and find the exact date.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Hugh Murray's Scrap Book

Slumach became part of the Pitt Lake gold legend in 1939 in an article written by Jack Mahony who interviewed pioneer Hugh Murray. The "Slummock" in their story was a middle-aged “half-breed Red River Indian” who was hanged for murdering another half-breed prospector by drowning. This "romantic fiction” included the first published text of the probably equally fictional "Jackson letter." Thanks to Barry Dykes, archivist at the New Westminster Museum, I had an opportunity to go through this large volume at my leisure. A very interesting collection of cuttings, but there was nothing about Pitt Lake Gold there. If Hugh Murray did collect cuttings about the discoverers of the Lost Creek, he must have kept them somewhere else. Shown are some pages of the scrap book. Click on the images for enlargements.

Friday, 22 February 2008

The Trail of 1858

The Trail of 1858 is a great book by Mark Fortsyth and Greg Dickson (CBC Radio's "BC Almanac") published in 2007 by Harbour Publishing. It starts at BC's Gold Rush of 1858 and continues into the very recent past. Very highly recommended.

The Trail of 1858 is No. 1 on the Best of BC list of the Association of Book Publishers of BC. (Slumach's Gold is climbed up from the eighth spot the held for a long time to the fifth position this week!)

Slumach is mentioned (p 148) with a reference to the Antonsons/Trainer book. Forsyth and Dickinson conclude that the legend is just a legend and suggest that "where the connection [with Slumach] came from is still unknown, despite decades of research." My little piece "Pitt Lake Gold" in Wikipedia offers an approach to an answer to that question.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Up in Flames?

STILL MISSING are the records of preliminary hearings of the Slumach case held at the District (County) Court 3 November 1890 before Justice of the Peace Capt. Pittendrigh. Assumed lost in New Westminster's Great Fire of 1898. We know that the content of the vault in the New Westminster court house was partly destroyed during the fire. But if the records did survive can anyone help me finding them?
Photo: New Westminster Post Office after the fire.
NOTE: Slumach's Gold, page 38, the caption of a picture of New Westminster after the fire includes the words "Many records were destroyed in this fire, including Captain Pittendrigh's...."

Friday, 8 February 2008

Jack Mould

In September, The Campbell River Mirror reported the disappearance of 71-year-old prospector Jack Mould while gathering fresh water from the Southgate River. A source close to the investigation tells that when the search started his dog was still waiting for him and that Jack's gun was leaning against the car, but he was gone and could not be found. Jack could have encountered a wild animal, but it seems more likely that he fell into the deep, ice-cold, glacier-fed river and drowned.

In the introduction to her book Jack Mould and the Curse of Gold, Elizabeth Hawkins writes: "But the ending, when it comes, promises to be as mysterious and intriguing as the beginning."

Some thoughts about the "Jackson Letter"

In his story "The Lost Mine of Pitt Lake," published first in Canada West Magazine in 1970 and after that in his book Historic Treasures and Lost Mines in 1977,reprinted in 1993 as Lost Mines and Historic Treasures , N.L. "Bill" Barlee shows a fragment of a letter attributed to "Volcanic" Brown dated May 28, 1924 and the text of an enclosure, a copy of a letter alleged to have been written by "Jackson," a main player in the legend of Pitt Lake gold.

Barlee shared the content of the Jackson letter in his article, not in the form of a reproduction but as a retyped version (verbatim we are told) of "Volcanic" Brown's copy. Thus we have to take Barlee's word as to its authenticity. We are also missing the benifit of "Volcanic" Brown's own words in the 28 May 1924 letter about provenance or authenticity of the precious relic, since the content of Brown's letter is not disclosed.

In 1925 the press mentioned the "Jackson letter" for the first time, but it is a prospector called Stockwell, and not one called Jackson, who was said to have written it. Jackson only steps in the limelight in 1939 and content of his letter quoted at that time was based on a copy said to be in the hands of pioneer Hugh Murray. Variations of this version are quoted in articles published in 1947 and 1951. Those texts are very humble affairs compared with the version Barlee started to present in 1970.

Click here to see Barlee's version followed by the earlier versions.

Note that others before Barlee presented their version as a part of the letter written by Jackson. Their versions start with the sentence "After reaching the headwaters of Pitt Lake, I discharged my two native guides and set out into the mountains." Barlee choose to present his version as a whole, omitting that first sentence.

Wouldn't it be great to see a true early a copy of any version of the legendary "Jackson Letter"? Yes, but I doubt that anyone has or ever had one and I am not going to look for it.

A prelude to "Jackson" -- First, in 1905, an newspaper item appeared about an Indian on a pony, coming to New Westminster three times exchanging gold dust for money. As is standard in this story he became ill due to the harsh conditions in the mountains and on his death bed he told his story to a relative, who involved a white man etc. In a 1906 article a man called Frazier told about an unnamed "old man" "who was ere this been gathered in his rest," who had recovered $8000 in gold nuggets, which he had hidden under a rock. Shotwell took his place in the legend in 1925. Etc.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Jackson's Load

Yesterday, at a presentation by Brian Antonson in Mission, Sharon Syrette wondered what the weight would have been of the legendary $8,000 in gold that Jackson was said to have taken out.

There was no one who could figure that out then and there, but, aided by the Internet here is an answer--he would have carried about 12 kgs or 26 pounds in pure gold.

The average gold price in 1901-1902 was about $21 per troy ounce. That makes 381 t.oz out of $8.000. 1 t.oz = 0.031103 kgs. 381 t.oz. = 11.8504 kgs. 11.8504 kgs is 26.12566 lbs. A manageable pack in particular since as the "Jackson letter" tells us, he was running out of grub.

Today, 381 t.oz would yield $342,900. The buying power of the $8,000 of 1901 would "only" be $212,125 today.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Charley Seymour

Police Court
Charley Seymour, an Indian and on old offender also got 6 months with hard labor for supplying liquor to Indians on the 27th ult.; and another 6 months with hard labor for having liquor in his possesion in an Indian house last Sunday. Officers Wiggins and Mr. Moresby proved former conviction. ....
Columbian 26 April 1882

The Daily Columbian of 11 September 1890 mentions in connection with the Coroners Inquest on the body of Louis Bee that: "Charlie Seymour, an Indian, was the principal witness examined by the jury." Seymour's first name is not mentioned in the legal records as the Indian from Harisson.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

From the Fringe

Some joker wanted to add to Pitt Lake Gold item on Wikipedia the following (merciful deleted)note:
In January 2008 British explorer Nathan G Clarke claimed to be in possesion of a map wherein the exact location of the gold is revealed. The map had been in the archive vaults of the Romford International Museum. Plans to investigate the sites shown on the map are due for May 2008.

Nathan G Clarke, probably the creator of this nonsense, is a 24 year-old resident of Sydney, NSW. This "British explorer" visited Vancouver BC in 2006 on what seems to be his first trip outside his native Australia. There is of course no Romford International Museum.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Daily Columbian

The microfilm of the Daily Columbian with the issues for the second half of 1890 is now available at the New Westminster Public Library. Click here to read transcript of the Slumach original articles of 1890 and 1891.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

"Volcanic Brown" by Cecil Clark

In the Boundary Historical Society Report #8 — 1979 is an acticle "Volcanic Brown," by Cecil Clark. Win Black, library assistant at the Grand Forks Public Library, kindly copied and mailed the article to me. It will find its place on the Web site some time next week.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

The Wide World Magazine

I discovered a couple of days ago that The Wide World Magazine, March 1953, Australian Edition, featured an article titled "Slumach Lost Creek Mine Ltd." I went looking for it and thanks to Greg Ray in Australia I did receive a copy of the article this morning. The transcript will be posted soon. Click here to look at Greg's "The Wide World Magazine, the Wide World Brotherhood and Newnes" Web page.

Follow-up February 11 2008
Im addition I received from Greg an article, "The Lost Creek Mine" by C.V. Tench, in The Wide World Magazine of November 1951. He could not help me with a copy of a third article by Tench, "Hoodoo Gold" in the The Wide World Magazine of June 1941 but I ordered that one today from the National Library of Australia. (Received 14 February 2008--will be posted in a week's time)

Thursday, 24 January 2008

"Unknown" Jackson

Robert W. Nicholson called my attention to a man called Jackson(no first name) who died in New Westminster in 1902. An interesting twist to the legend? Not likely it seems.

The Vital Events records of BC Archives (1902-09-081124, Microfilm B13088) show that this Jackson(first name "unknown") was a 50-year-old male who died on 21 August 1902. The death registration records show that Mr. Jackson was an "Indian" from Bella Coola who died of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

"Again he started on a drinking orgy..." (C.V. Tench, 1939)

It would have been impossible that an "Indian" could have a good time in the watering holes of New Westminster as suggested by Tench and others. There was a strict liquor prohibition on the Native population of BC from 1854 to 1962. For that reason some authors changed their Slumach from an "Indian" into a "half-breed," to do his carousing legally.

Following clipping from the Daily Columbian of 3 November 1890 shows the harshness of the punishment for consumption or possession of alcohol.

Police Court
Dan, a Kaetzi Indian, was found in a state of intoxication and pleaded guilty this morning in court. He was fined $5 and one month imprisonment at hard labor. Dan was also charged with the still more serious charge of having had an intoxicant, to wit, whiskey, in his possession and for that he was fined $26 and one month's imprisonment at hard labor.

Compare that with what happened to a white man (Daily Columbian 11 November 1890), a repeat offender:

Police Court
John Anderson is not a new figure in Police Court. His offence this morning consisted of drunk and incapable. The case was clearly proved and the usual $2.50 and costs imposed

Friday, 18 January 2008

1939 article by C.V. Tench found!

Mr. Cal Mark called our attention to an unknown 1939 article by C.V. Tench, titled “Hoodoo Gold in British Columbia: Death Guards Lost Creek Mine,” published in The Standard, Montreal. Cal Mark provided us promptly with a copy. Click here to read or download a transcript of the article from the Slumach Web site. It is a wonderful contribution.

Jack Mahoney and Hugh Murray did put together the classic “Slumach” and “Jackson” stories only half a year earlier and Tench borrowed heavily from their creation. Tench used Mahoney’s spelling of the name: Slummock and added a cameo appearance of Hugh Murray in his article, but he does not cite Murray anywhere. He also included a copy of the text of the “Jackson” letter from Mahoney’s piece.

In Mahoney piece it “was believed but never proven, that the half-breed Slummock had drowned three of his Indian ‘wives’” and that Slummock was hanged for the murder of another half-breed man. Tench changed the rumour into fact and increased the number of murdered women from three to eight. He also alleges that the Indian Slummock went to the gallows because of the murder of one of them. The real Slumach of course was executed for the murder of Louis Bee. Tench introduced the idea of a curse on the gold to the story and the word “Hoodoo.” The word "hoodoo" turned up again in Clyde Gilmour’s story of 1947 and "the curse" would grow into "Slumach’s curse" in the tales about Lost Creek gold.

In 1956 C.V. Tench, who was a well-known contributor to Canadian pulp magazines, would expand his 1939 tale into a well-illustrated article with the gory tales about "John Slummock” the nine murdered women and B.C. Provincial Police Constable Eric Grainger. The picture shown here of “John Slummock” appeared both in his 1939 and 1956 article and is of course not a picture of Slumach.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Menzies Island revisited

My 10 November post shows that "Menzies Island" was never the official name or earlier name of Sheridan Hill as suggested by a journalist in 1961, but that the name came from Hal Menzies, who owned land there.

Donald E. Waite let me know that the name Menzies Island did not refer to Hal Menzies but to Hal's father, William Henry Menzies, who worked for the CPR and came out from Ontario to New Westminster in 1890. William Henry Menzies moved to Haney in 1893 and settled at the north end of McKenney Creek (where it empties into the Alouette River) in 1898 before moving to Sheridan Hill in 1900.

I am correcting the 10 November post accordingly. Thanks Don!