Saturday, January 14, 2017

El Dorado Trail

Another special exhibit that was on at the Canadian Museum of History dealt with gold rushes- both in general in the Americas (with mention of Australian rushes), as well as one in particular- the gold rush in British Columbia in the latter half of the 19th century. It included art, equipment, common items on display from a number of different collections, as well as context for the lust for gold down through centuries, particularly the ever elusive myth Europeans had for the Americas: the mysterious city of gold, El Dorado. The same patterns came each time with gold discoveries: feverish races to the scene, violence, and the oppression of indigenous peoples.

This gold bar greeted the visitor at the entrance, along with display panels and a golden mask.

Overhead, these period signs caught my eye, advertising passage to the gold fields of California during their gold rush years. Generally speaking, the prospectors who made money were those actually living in California in 1848, the year gold was first found. Those who came in the months-long overland journeys or by sea in 1849 and the following years often found little more than failed expectations among far too many other prospectors. The tools in the display case were typical of prospectors in gold rushes through the 19th century.

This painting is called Miners In The Sierra, by artist Norton Bush, an oil painting from 1869, depicting miners dwarfed by the scale of the land in California.

This painting, The Lone Prospector, is an oil painting by Albertus Browere, dating to 1853.

I have more from this exhibit tomorrow, but this display case figures into where the exhibit moved from gold rushes in general to the gold rushes that took place in the province of British Columbia in the latter half of the 19th century.


  1. Some interesting features here. Love the old painting of mining in the Sierras.

  2. This is especially interesting to me William, the WA gold rush played such a huge part in the development of Perth, probably wouldn't be here without it 😊 all of our heritage buildings were built during that period.

  3. Uma exposição incrível mostrando a trajetória do garimpo do ouro
    A máscara de ouro é excepcional e linda
    Um ótimo final de semana
    Um abraço

  4. wow, those are some old artifacts ...neat-o!! ( ;

  5. Gold rush history is something else. Love seeing those artifacts.


  6. @Whisk: thanks!

    @Gemma: I did too.

    @Marleen: it is!

    @Grace: and some of the same patterns seen here happened there.

    @Gracita: thank you.

    @Beth: they are good to see.

    @Janis: I enjoyed seeing this exhibit.

  7. You'e got to read Pierre Burton's two books on the Klondike. I've read other books on the Klondike. Gold rushes are fascinating in how they drive people nuts.

  8. Yes, I can still smell the Gold Rush living in the Bay Area! Another worthwhile post, William. thank you

  9. I really like seeing these old artifacts!

  10. Interesting display. Love seeing this stuff.

  11. Oh and I keep forgetting to comment on your header----
    very cold!

  12. That gold bar is shining bright!

  13. @Red: I have read his work on the Klondike, though it has been years.

    @Cloudia: the two paintings, actually, are from museums in California. The Norton Bush painting particularly appealed to me.

    @Linda: I do as well.

    @MB: and it feels that cold today!

    @Sharon: it certainly was. Gleaming! You think they'd have noticed if I'd put it in my pocket? :)

  14. A fine exhibit, indeed. In a sense, I think the "rush" for gold continues. In the US, the leaders being put in place are without exception those for whom riches are the goal and the people are going to be clobbered once again! Or as the orange-headed monster would say: "Sad!"

  15. Such hectic times those would have been!

  16. I enjoy all these Artifacts and I too love your frozen Picture header.

  17. Not every day I see a bar of gold. Heck! Hardly ever. :-)

  18. Excellent exhibit! History of different gold rushes are always interesting times. In Fairbanks, they recreate the gold rush in "Golden Days" and celebrate it every year. They even have a look alike contest of Felix Pedro, the person who discovered gold back in 1902.

  19. This was a huge part of California history and there are swaths of land in the state that were profoundly changed by placer mining. Much of the wealth that was accumulated was by the merchants who served the miners, and people like Levi Strauss who clothed them.

  20. I like the artwork! I heard that the men who really got rich from California's gold rush were the people who sold supplies to the miners!

  21. @Lowell: Unfortunately true.

    @Norma: it was.

    @RedPat: they would have been.

    @Carolann: thank you.

    @Revrunner: it was interesting to see this one!

    @Bill: that doesn't surprise me.

    @Jan: I enjoyed it.

    @Kay: yes, the jeans we wear today are a legacy of the California rush. After the first few months, it was the suppliers who were getting rich, not the prospectors, generally speaking. And there's a guy named Sutter, who had fifty thousand acres of land where gold was found, and ended up losing it all to squatters.

    @Linda: if you could provide goods or services, you could make a killing among gold rushes.

  22. Stories like Sutter's are a sad footnote in history. In California the gold rush was part of the history we learned as children.

    1. I still think Sam Brannan, the guy who blabbed about the gold rush and ultimately ruined Sutter, should have been killed. Sutter would have had the right. If there was ever a case for justifiable homicide, that was it.

  23. I copied some slides my ex-husband's father had in his collection. Originals from the gold rush. He was stationed in the north in the early 50s, with the RCMP. Sadly, a gr. 8 student stole them. They were amazing.