A Search for Hidden Gold in New West

2017-05-04-ColborneExpress15Dec1927_244
Newspaper account from the Colborne, Ontario, Express (December 15, 1927), page 6.

Is there a cache of hidden gold in New West dating back to the Cariboo Gold Rush? This news account, from an Ontario town’s paper, suggests such rumours were once well-known and that efforts to locate it drew at least some attention nation-wide. Certainly this city’s role as a waypoint to-and-from the gold fields in the interior is well-documented, but I haven’t come across any other references to gold treasures buried in town.

This clipping is from the Colborne, Ontario, Express (December 15, 1927):

Will Search For Hidden B.C. Gold

New Westminster Man Will Undertake to Find Fortune.

Efforts to discover a fortune in gold, rumored since Cariboo mining days, to be hidden in the vicinity of Leopold Place, will be undertaken by George Anderson, of New Westminster. The gold, which is said to exist in minted form, is said to have been hidden during the hectic mining days of 1869 to 1872 by an old Cariboo miner, D.L. Smith.

Mr. Anderson made an application to the City Council for permission to sink a hole on Front street in the vicinity of the Fraser River bridge. By this means he hopes to locate a hidden tunnel leading to the source of gold.

About a year ago an effort was made to locate the supposed fortune by sinking a shaft on a property on Columbia street, this work being carried on for several months without success.

The suggestion that a tunnel, now blocked, exists is not upheld by W.H. Keary, city clerk, who is an authority on pioneer days of New Westminster. He thinks there was likely an old water course through the vicinity of Leopold Place.

Rumors of the hidden gold coins, minted in San Francisco from Cariboo gold, have existed for several decades.

So far, my (brief) efforts to find out more on George Anderson or D.L. Smith haven’t turned up anything. And I’d still like to better understand the dates–1869-1872–given for Smith’s find since, by that time, the Cariboo Gold Rush had largely played itself out–although, of course, some miners continued to work the district for decades. Hopefully, at some point I’ll come across more local coverage that gives some indication of the scope and outcomes of Anderson’s searches.

CommercialMapVancouverAndDistrict_1929_640
Detail, showing area around Leopold Place and Fraser River Bridge, from the Commercial Map of Greater Vancouver and District (Vancouver Map & Blueprint Co., ca 1929). From the City of Vancouver Archives.

It’s interesting that even in 1927 city officials gave little credence to Anderson’s assertions of secret tunnels because similar rumours persist to this day. Based on a cursory internet search, there are suggestions of a tunnel running from the old courthouse on Carnarvon down to the river (based on this post), one connecting the the BC Penitentiary to the riverfront at Sapperton, another accessible beneath the Paramount Theatre, or starting and ending at the old railroad station (all suggested by reader comments on a Tenth to the Fraser article). Still another rumour connects Woodlands with the railroad station by rail tunnel. I don’t know how much credence to give any of New West’s tunnel rumours because I have yet to see a clear source cited for any of them–although I haven’t really been actively looking, either.

Sources
Newspaper account from the Colborne, Ontario, Express (December 15, 1927), page 6.

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