Gold and Grand Dreams: Cariboo East in the Early Years


200 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-920663-71-0
DDC 971.1'75




Reviewed by A.A. Den Otter

A.A. den Otter is a professor of history at Memorial University of
Newfoundland and the author of The Philosophy of Railways.


The broad outlines of the story of the Cariboo gold rush are relatively
well known. Commencing with the discovery of gold in the Quesnel River
and tributary creeks, the dreams of sudden wealth drew hundreds of
prospectors, miners, and entrepreneurs to the region in 1859. Four years
later, the boom was over and most people abandoned the Cariboo. Some
stayed, however, and continued to search for and find gold, while others
established farms, ranches, or other business concerns.

Marie Elliott’s contribution to this story is a solid bibliography,
copious documentation (a reflection of very thorough research), and a
wealth of detail. Apart from the theme of the early and continued
presence of the state in the region, which made it much more law-abiding
and peaceful than previous gold rushes, Elliott’s research provides
interesting material on government officials in the region. She also
furnishes rich background on miners and other personalities. Moreover,
she discusses the contribution of Native and Oriental people, as well as
women to the establishment of mining society.

Unfortunately, the details are not always presented in a coherent,
thematic story. Similarly, the maps, while fascinating as an example of
contemporary cartography, are difficult to read. Less-cluttered, modern
maps would have been more useful to readers unacquainted with the
geography of the Cariboo. Readers able to cope with these shortcomings,
however, will learn much.


Elliott, Marie., “Gold and Grand Dreams: Cariboo East in the Early Years,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed September 28, 2022,