Exploring Historical sites along the Fraser River

hello I'm Teresa watt minister

responsible for multiculturalism in July

of this year we visited places rarely

visited by others but are of enormous

significance to BC share history with

Chinese Canadians and First Nations the

freezer corridor heritage landscape

project shows there is an other story

about Chinese Canadians about how

important Chinese Canadians were to the

building of our province both

economically and culturally I wanted to

share these places their historical

importance with all those Colombians

one of the important things to know is

that the Chinese were actually really

important for building the

infrastructure of BC so not just the

railroad the CPR which a lot of people

know but the caribou wagon road which

was built in the 1860s to to go up the

side of the Fraser Canyon so 20 years

before the railroad was built there was

a wagon trail that was really difficult

to hand build on the side of the canyon

walls and so the Alexander bridge was in

fact part of that wagon road system

where people could travel up the Fraser

on land rather than by boat and you know

at the time was the only crossing over

the Fraser River there was a Canyon War

and what happened was that so many

miners came during the gold rush that

the first nations who were here they

sawed upwards of 20,000 new comers come

there was a conflict where they drove

out many of those miners and what a lot

of people don't know is that they they

didn't drive the Chinese out there'd

always been this sort of trivia that

well well the Chinese weren't driven out

but why and it turns out that one of the

reasons why is because the Chinese had

actually asked you know can we dig here

can we you know can we pan here and so

they had shown sort of the respect for

the people over to here it's a

reciprocal relationship that was

developed back then and I think

hopefully that's a lesson for us today

you know the Chinese and Aboriginal work

together and so I'm so happy that today

again I'm as a Chinese Canadian in

British Columbia invited back by the

original community to work with them

together only this time the difference

is that we're working with the broader

community together not just Aboriginal

and Chinese but also with the support of

the PC government so this is of great

means of original community and it's

time that we bring it into the BC

history so we can all understand it and

help preserve the heritage value of this


this is the only property it was a

family owned property in business for

over a hundred years

well Yale was perhaps one of the most

important places in terms of development

of binding because it was the

jumping-off point for the miners during

the gold rush this was the place that

they would get supplies and so Yale is a

crucial place for understanding the

history of mining in British Columbia I

think one of the things is with you only

think of Chinese Canadians as miners

gold rush miners and as railroad workers

then you missed that in fact the reason

why the Cantonese called it gum son they

called it gold mountain was not

primarily because of the gold but

because you could make money here so you

know the stores the restaurants feeding

people washing their clothes and they

really did feel a part of the community

and and contributed constantly

what is the current historical interest

in this cemetery at this stage well I

think this cemetery has been nominated

as one of the 77 sites that were a part

of the public nomination process for the

legacy initiatives Advisory Council and

so we really think of it as an important

site one of many and partly why it's so

important is because it dates back so

far that it goes right back to the gold

rush time that as the first Chinese

arrived up the Fraser along with other

Gold Rush miners that this cemetery is a

symbol of their presence I think the

other really important aspect of this

cemetery is that because the the people

buried here the family owned a store is

one of the things that actually stores

in restaurants that are almost

ubiquitous everywhere in British

Columbia's small town many of these

places the last trace of the Chinese

presence is the cemetery

I'm really looking forward to this is

the fun part because you know the river

it was the lifeblood of British Columbia

it was the way people got in to the

interior there's some spots today you

can only get there by raft and so we're

gonna see things that rarely anybody


this is Browning's blood and you could

really see that this is a monumental

place and it's a tribute to the work of

your ancestors and the relationship they

developed over time with the ins like

helping people they relied on each other

to teach each other about mining and

about fishing from the river with the

provided sustenance to them while

they're out here doing this really

labor-intensive work as part of a recent

development in Sycamore more

specifically the lip infestation

nominated this place as a place of

historical significance to the province

of British Columbia and to Canada

because there are not many places up or

as intact as Browning's and Browning's

there's only one site there are several

of these sites Joan along the Fraser

River in our territory

what you're seeing right now is one of

many that I think there's 14 or 15 of

these grounds looses and so you've seen

lots of you know photos of people with

gold pans you know on the river sort of

sitting by themselves you know swirling

it looking for gold or or maybe a couple

people with a rocker this is different

this is placer mining so they're still

using water to recover the gold but as

you can see they are literally moving

tons and tons of dirt and these rocks

were hand carried and hand stacked to

build these water sluices and then

divert water from up to two kilometers

away down through these sluices and so

they were trying to carry dirt through

and so they're really just trying to

recover the minut amounts of gold it was

in the soil so it's very impressive as

you can see a tree has grown in the

middle of this waterway and and just

again shows you how old this area is

that a tree could grow right in the

middle and yet the walls are still

almost pristine as if they were really

hand stacked yesterday later welcome

each and every one of you tour in a

couple of territory to one of our

precious heritage sites they were then I

kept my share their heritage with

Chinese ancestry the people work

together as a team and we've always

worked together as Anna Catholic and a

Chinese ancestry who had good


I'm really very moved to today because

you are welcoming me coming to a

territory and I could imagine how your

people welcomed my Chinese ancestor

here to do the mining is because your

people and our people go along with each

other so well with huge respect for one

another that that's why we can work

together and I feel so honored that you

are welcoming us to your territory today

and we can look at this amazing site

thank you very much for your warm


to me I was born and raised in BC so to

me I heard a lot of stories coming down

through my family about what it was like

for them to come here as Chinese you

know for generations and many of their

stories weren't part of what was taught

to me in school and so part of this is

actually rounding out the story of

British Columbia so that the first

nations the the Chinese and others who

came here and met with European migrants

they made a world together and so far

we've had pieces of that history and

sometimes incomplete sometimes partial

sometimes even distorted and right now

for me as a historian and as a teacher

and as a parent of my own kids what I

want is a common history one that's

common to us all that we can have and

share as a history together in British

Columbia that's the only way we can move

forward I mean you need a common pass in

order to have a shared future and so to

me that's what this projects about

that's what it is to have British

Columbia's to share a common history