Winners of the Lure of Gold essay contest were on hand at the Sooke Region Museum's open house on June 22.

Winners of the Lure of Gold essay contest were on hand at the Sooke Region Museum's open house on June 22.

The Lure of Gold: Golden Dreams and Boom Towns

Aidan Cawley's submission to the Sooke Region Museum's Lure of Gold contest

 

Golden Dreams and Boom Towns

People love the idea that they can just go to a special place, do a bit of work, and suddenly become rich. It is an urge that has existed for a long time, and today some folk prey upon it using “get rich quick” ads. However small the chance of success, the possibility of instant wealth is something few can deny, and it is so powerful that entire towns and cities have been built upon the hope of easy riches,

Out of all sources of “instant wealth,” few are as famous as the age old favorite, gold. For thousands of years, this heavy, soft metal has been an icon of power and property for people around the globe. With its yellowish color and shiny surface, it is pleasant on the eye and rare enough that much work is devoted to gathering it. Gold, the mark of the rich, has tipped civilization on its head and again as people rush off with those words in their heads: “Gold to be found!” Along with its counterpart, silver, the discovery of gold has led to the overnight development of towns, knows as boom-towns, as well as their eventual abandonment

One perfect example is the formation of Leechtown, a fair sized boom town located where the Leech River meets the Sooke River. After the discovery of gold by the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition on July 18th, 1864, hundreds of gold-hungry miners moved into the area. By August 14th, over two hundred mining licenses had been issued and by November 9th, Leechtown contained six general stores, three hotels, thirty saloons and bars, and over 1,200 mines at work in the region! At its peak, Leechtown and the nearby Boulder City had together over four thousand inhabitants, but by 1865, the gold was running out and the towns began a swift decline. Although hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of gold was removed during the town’s lifespan, Leechtown was only kept barely alive by minor mining and lumber operations until the fifties, although the last inhabitant remained there until his death in 1999.

Since its fall, only a few scattered individuals have called the once great town home, and since that final death, none have lived there since. Yet the lure of gold, and easy riches, remains.

Aidan Cawley

The Lure of Gold essay contest sponsored by the Sooke Region Museum, Vancouver Island Placer Mining Association, Sooke Lions Club, Sooke Community Association and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #54 drew more than 100 entries. The students won cash prizes for their essays.

Some of the winning entries will be printed in the Sooke News Mirror up until the celebration of the Leechtown 150th Anniversary on July 19.  The Honourable Lieutenant Governor for British Columbia Judith Guichon will be in attendance at Leechtown.

 

Just Posted

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The Victoria woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Anita Troop officially turns 100 on Sunday and cards are pouring in from around the world. (Courtesy Marina Miller)
Cards roll in from around the world for West Shore 100 year old

About 100 cards have come for the woman who turns 100 on Sunday

A cardboard man bearing Queen Elizabeth II’s royal cipher has been placed in a window at the Royal Theatre for at least several days. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Mysterious cardboard figure appears in Victoria’s Royal Theatre window

The identity of the figure, which was moved there amid cleaning, remains unknown

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY: A brief history of Bear Creek Camp

Malahat Logging Company began both Beach Camp and Bear Creek Camp

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read