The influx of over 20,000 European and Chinese miners to the Fraser River in the spring of 1858, all of them hungry for gold, compelled the British government to declare the mainland, known then as New Caledonia, the Colony of British Columbia. In an attempt to capture the excitement of this period and the challenges faced by the colonial government during the years prior to Confederation, this book seeks to answer three vital questions: How did the gold rush unfold? Who were the participants? And what were the outcomes? Excerpts from the correspondence of government officials and from Matthew Baillie Begbie, the only Supreme Court judge in the Colony of British Columbia for most of that period, provide insight, humour and new perspectives into the actual gold rush events and the enormous task of establishing law and order during one of the major social upheavals of North America. In this history, readers will meet the miners, First Nations peoples, Hudson’s Bay personnel, governors, royal engineers, assistant gold commissioners, steadfast community leaders, and women who trekked over the mountains—a kaleidoscope of colourful people and events.