Jenna Stewart won $75 from the Royal Canadian Branch #54 for her essay on The Lure of Gold.
We have been using gold for over 800 years, for all sorts of things. Gold has been used for many things because it is so soft and easy to work with. Gold is a substance that cannot be corroded or destroyed in any way. If you found a ship that sunk 100’s of years ago, the gold that was on that ship would still be in perfect condition. Another reason gold is so valuable, is because there is not very much of it around the world. There has been a race to get the metal for hundreds of years.
Over the centuries, gold has both built and destroyed civilizations. Ghana was once one of the biggest empires on earth because of its riches in gold. The Macuna Indians found gold in their fields. When word go out, over 25,000 miners came and took all the gold and ruined their land. They actually forced the indians to work and mine the gold for them. The Spanish where also very keen on getting gold. They took the Aztec king hostage, conquered the Aztecs, took their gold, and that of the Incas as well. Gold is very beautiful, but it is also a key to greed.
Leechtown now, is nothing but some old cement house foundations, but in 1864, it was much more than that. In July of 1864, an expedition party was formed and was sent out to look at what is now Leechtown. While there, they discovered gold in the Sooke river. In just a few weeks, thousands of miners came for all over the island to get the gold. In August of the same year, over 227 mining licenses has been given to miners. By December, the town had already started to form and was named after Lieutenant Peter John Leech. There where 6 general stores, 3 hotels, and over 30 saloons. Leechtown had roughly 600 mines and 2,000 people, and later they started in the logging business. Man’s desire for gold of Leechtown, lead to a clearing of gold rush memories.
The Lure of Gold essays are a lead-up to the 150th Leechtown Anniversary celebration being held at the Sooke Region Museum on July 19. The Vancouver Island Placer Miners’ Association will present a new monument to replace the original cairn erected in 1928 in Leechtown. The monument provided a catalyst of economic boom on Vancouver Island.