The People of the Cariboo Gold Rush

William George Richardson Hind

Self Portrait, William G. R. Hind
William G. R. Hind
Self Portrait
What's it worth to get a good picture? For artist William Hind (1833-1889) it was worth travelling by ox-cart for hundreds of miles with the Overlanders in 1862. Originally from England, Hind had already done some exploring; he and his brother Henry were part of an expedition to Labrador in 1861, where they made sketches and water colour paintings of the scenery and the First Nations inhabitants.

Remember that cameras were still rare, heavy, and complicated to use in the 1860s. Artists were valued as recorders of places not many people had yet seen, places where there were no roads and few houses.

Joining people going to the Cariboo gold rush gave Hind an opportunity to paint people and places everybody else was wondering about. He wasn't always tactful in his work though, or maybe he had other annoying habits; he managed to irritate his fellow travellers so much that they kicked him out of the group for several days! Luckily they forgave him soon or Hind might never have made it to the Cariboo.

After recording the Overlanders' journey in his sketchbooks, Hind settled in Victoria for several years, where he worked as a professional artist and sign painter. Around about 1864 he headed back to the Cariboo and made a number of detailed, realistic oil and watercolour paintings of the goldrush, some of which you can see on this website. These paintings document bushy-bearded, stocky prospectors climbing mountains with their packs, panning the Fraser Rivers for gold, and crowding into saloons.

Eventually Hind headed back east, living in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and eventually settling in New Brunswick, and continuing to sketch and paint everywhere. He took his Cariboo paintings and sketches along with him and they weren't rediscovered until 1927, when they were found in the attic of his brother's home in Windsor, Nova Scotia.