Collection Dates, Series #1-#10 1928 - 1967
The Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine was the first successful large-scale lode gold mining operation in the Cariboo district of British Columbia. As a result of its activities interest in the area was reawakened and a number of other companies moved in to exploit the quartz veins which had fed the placer creeks. The boom was called the “second gold rush”. Barkerville was infused with new life and a few miles distant, on Jack of Clubs Lake near the Cariboo Gold Quartz mine, a new town by the name of Wells was created.
The Cariboo Gold Quartz Mining Co. Ltd. was formed early in 1927 (BC incorporation February, 1927) at the instigation of a prospector, Fred M. Wells, in order to extract gold from the quartz veins in the Jack of Clubs Lake/Cow Mountain area.. Dr. W. B. Burnett, a Vancouver physician became president of the company and J.R.V. Dunlop, a Vancouver insurance agent, secretary-treasurer. Wells and an American, J. Carer Boulton were chosen as directors and O.H. Solibakke, from Seattle, as fiscal agent for the company. Boulton soon resigned (although he retained his shares and continued to sell shares) and was replaced by T. Mathews from Vancouver. In 1933 Mathews resigned and Solibakke became director.
The company began with fifteen claims in 1927 covering some 750 acres; by 1961 it held over 4000 acres in mineral claims in the Cariboo. To obtain operating capital shares were sold to the public. Largely through the efforts of Solibakke, enough were sold to finance operations, no mean feat especially after 1929. The BC government was especially suspicious of the new venture and restricted sales in BC. Tunnels were first cut into Cow Mountain to intercept the veins, then in 1932 a mill was built on Jack of Clubs Lake to process the ore. Milling began in 1933 and in that same year the first gold brick was produced. Even the government became enthusiastic.
Also in 1933 the directors of the company formed the Wells Townsite Co. Ltd. to purchase, develop and sell land for the town of Wells. In 1935 the Townsite Co. amalgamated with Cariboo Gold Quartz and became a subsidiary. A second subsidiary was created in 1935 or 1936 when the Gold Quartz Hospital Ltd. was formed. In 1936 the directors also formed Cariboo-Hudson Mines Ltd. to acquire and develop group of claims; this enterprise appears to have remained separate (by 1970 it was reported defunct by the Financial Post Survey of Mines). Although the company’s credibility had been established reports and rumors of poor ore bodies and mine mismanagement continued to threaten its popularity. Various geologists and mining engineers were asked to do reports to refute the rumors. In 1935 the company was finally able to pay a dividend which helped somewhat.
In 1936 a fire destroyed the power plant batting operations for three months. The following year a labour dispute again shutdown operation for two months. During the war the mine suffered from a shortage of manpower and exploration activity had to be discontinued. After the war labour conditions did not immediately improve and union activity for higher wages which had already begun before the war increased. In 1946 a province-wide miners strike again shut down the mine. Concern over communist agitation led the company to employ a private investigation agency from 1937 on to report on any suspicious activity in the Wells-Barkerville area.
In the 1950’s rises in operating costs and wages but no rise in the price of gold made mining less profitable. Nevertheless the company acquired two other major mines during this period: Island Mountain mine (also on Jack of Clubs Lake) in 1954 and French Mines (near Hedley) in 1956. Dunlop died in 1955 (replaced by E.R. Tindale) and Fred Wells in 1956. Burnett and Solibakke remained, however, until 1962 when a proxy fight ousted the ninety-two year old Burnett and the almost eighty year old Solibakke. Burnett died three years later, in 1965. J. Royden Morris, one of the major figures in the ouster and a member of the board of directors since the early fifties, became the new president.
In 1963 capitalization was increased from two to four million shares for purposes of development and diversification. Other mineral interests (such as copper interests in Washington state) and petroleum and natural gas interests (especially in Alberta) were acquired. Gold mining operations in the Cariboo, however, ceased in 1967 when increased costs and failure to find high grade ore bodies caused the company to close down the mines at Wells (the number one mine at Wells had already been closed down in 1959 for the same reasons).
In 1970 the company disposed of its majority interest in Williams Creek Cariboo Gold Quartz Mining Ltd. (held jointly with Noranda; not known when acquired).
In 1972 Cariboo Gold Quartz amalgamated with Coseka Resources Ltd. to form a company with the name of the latter. In April 1973 Wharf Resources (formerly Plateau Metals and Industries) amalgamated with French Exploration Ltd. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coseka Resources). Wharf Resources now holds the ninety-one claims of Cariboo Gold Quartz in the Wells-Barkerville area and has started to explore and redevelop the old mines. J.R. Morris is on the board of directors of Wharf Resources; P.R. Kulney, from Vancouver is president.
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of blueprints for mill equipment, invoices, vouchers, receipts, requisitions, production and payroll data, time books, Workmen’s Compensation reports, accounting statements, equipment inventories, machinery record books, business correspondence, annual reports, and scrapbooks. Of this material the scrapbooks, which detail the history of the mine and the associated town of Wells, may individually be the most informative documents. While the material in the collection covers a period from 1928 to 1967, the bulk of it dates from the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Information is organized (loosely) according to type and within each category according to chronological order.
See also: Cariboo Gold Quartz Hospital, Series #1-26
Wells Townsite Company
Cariboo Hudson Mines
Barkerville Archives - Cariboo Gold Quartz Mining Co. Ltd.
University of BC - Finding Aid 016 BRA 1976
Barkerville Reference Files - Oscar Henry Solibakke papers
Barkerville Finding Aid - Barkerville-025.1714 HOV 1983.
WRG 1 ( Wells Record Group)
The collection consists of blueprints for mill equipment, invoices, vouchers, receipts, requisitions, production and payroll data, time books, Workmen’s Compensation reports, accounting statements, equipment inventories, machinery record books, business correspondence, annual reports, and the history of the mine and the associated town of Wells, may individually be the most informative documents. While the material in this collection covers a period from 1928 to 1967, the bulk of it dates from the 1930’s and 1940’s.
WRG 1 - Cariboo Gold Quartz Mining Co. (11 Series)
Series 1 - Blueprints
Series 2 - Invoices, Vouchers, Journal Vouchers, Receipts, Warehouse
Requisition, Cheques, Ration Forms, Order Forms, Material
Requisitions, Victory Bonds
Series 3 - Payroll Distribution Sheets, Shift Boss Reports, Daily Mine Shift
Series 4 - Report of Accident 1932, 1933, 1934, Medical Slip, Poster and Blank
Series 5 - Work Order Forms, Acknowledgment of Hire, Time Cards, Monthly
Time Book, Tabulations of Time Card Data, Material Requisitions
Series 6 - Payroll Sheets, Payroll Cheque List, Cancelled Payroll Cheques
Series 7- Mill Assay Reports, Mine Assay Reports, Daily Tonnage Operating
Assay reports, Inventories, Machinery Record/Inspection Book
Series 8 - Statements, Journal, Building, etc. Depreciation Reserves
Series 9 - Mining Journals
Series 10 -Correspondence, Fire Equipment, Crusher Plant and Power Plant, Contracts and Licences, Shareholders Report, Annual Reports, Canadian Ingersoll- Rand, Retaining Wall for Mine Tailings, Sample Assays, Shareholders correspondence, Miscellaneous letters.
Series 11 - Scrap books dealing with mining in the Cariboo