The Royal Navy, Ruler of the Seas

The Gold Rush and the Royal Engineers

Gold Rush Prompts Border Survey

At the end of 1857 the discovery of gold in the Fraser River Valley led to a gold rush that shook up the peaceful young colony. Thousands of adventurers, primarily American, flowed in, and tensions over the exact location of the border with the United States resurfaced. The situation led the British government to take direct control of the territories, which had until then been administered by the Hudson's Bay Company - which meant not only Vancouver Island, but also the coastline and the interior, creating the colony of British Columbia on November 19, 1858.

British and American commissions were appointed to settle the problem of the land border. In July 1858, 60 officers and soldiers of the Royal Engineers arrived. Over the next four years they systematically surveyed southern British Columbia in great detail. This was the first detachment of regular troops to be posted to the west coast since the departure of the Spanish soldiers in 1795.