A LOOK BACK: Ucluelet was almost the site of a gold rush in 1899

Learn more about Alberni Valley and west coast history with the Alberni Valley Museum

This photo, circa 1905, shows Capt. Binn (right) and Mr. Sutton panning for gold at Wreck Bay, Vancouver Island. The area is now known as Florencia Bay. This and 24,000 other historical photos can be seen on the Alberni Valley Museum’s online photo archive at portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN02704 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)

This photo, circa 1905, shows Capt. Binn (right) and Mr. Sutton panning for gold at Wreck Bay, Vancouver Island. The area is now known as Florencia Bay. This and 24,000 other historical photos can be seen on the Alberni Valley Museum’s online photo archive at portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN02704 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)

The coast off Ucluelet and Tofino is known as a gold mine for tourism. Did you know that in 1899, a beach north of Ucluelet was nearly the scene of a gold rush?

Author Margaret Horsfield writes about the “gold fever” mineral deposits on the west coast caused, in Voices From the Sound: Chronicles of Clayoquot Sound and Tofino 1899-1929. “By the middle of 1899, heightened hopes for a gold rush shifted to the promising sands of Wreck Bay, north of Ucluelet,” she wrote.

“As always, the Victoria Daily Colonist revelled in the very mention of gold. ‘While all the world has been looking to Klondike…for gold,’ an article announced in July 1899, ‘the precious dust has…been waiting to be won at a point on the West Coast of this Island, not a hundred miles from Victoria by direct line—and if reports be true, in quantity sufficient to bring ten thousand miners to the field in half a year.’

“Mercifully, ten thousand miners did not descend on Wreck Bay, but the area was quickly staked, and strenuous efforts ensued to extract what the newspaper called the ‘flaky, floury gold’ from the sand,” Horsfield wrote.

By 1901 even the Daily Colonist had to admit the so-called gold rush was a gold flush.

READ MORE: 150 years of mining in Clayoquot Sound



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

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