The Douglas Trail

In the late 1850's, Governor James Douglas was concerned about about both need for a better supply route to the interior, as well as securing the area north of the 49th parallel as British territory. He appointed Alexander C. Anderson to supervise construction.

In order to build the trail, Governor Douglas arranged for 500 men to put up $25.00 as a deposit (not a small sum of money back then) in order to guarantee that they would indeed work the entire time and not clear out at the first sign of trouble. In return, Governor Douglas said that he would have mules to pack the supplies and equipment for the road, feed the men, and when they had finished the road, he would give them their $25 back and pack all their supplies into the goldfields.

As it turned out, the men certainly got their money back, but not much more. The pack mules for the road never showed up and the men spent the entire road building time packing all the supplies and equipment themselves.

Demand for a better route prompted the contruction of the Cariboo Wagon Road. Initially, there was some competition between the two routes, as indicated by two ads in the same issue of the Victoria Colonist in 1864:

The Ad for the The Douglas Trail started with:

"Hurrah for the Cariboo! Douglas and Lillooet route is by far the shortest for both animals and men..."
The Ad for The Cariboo Wagon Road began with:

"Every person should know that the shortest, best, and cheapest route to the Cariboo Mines is via the Yale and Lytton Wagon Road."
It also warned:

"All those who allow themselves to get crammed by the Douglasites this year need expect no sympathy if they go broke."
With the completion of the Cariboo Wagon Road use of the Douglas Trail declined, it having thrived for only three years short years.