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Mining the Motherlode
Life of a Miner

Two Prospectors on a mountain, wpH126
Two prospectors near Wells on a mountain top. wpH126

In 1930, people flocked once again to the Cariboo for employment in the mining field. This was the second gold rush in the Cariboo. Hard rock mining was hard work and most of the miners spent their working hours underground, but the pay was good and better than the majority of the country that was standing in food lines.

Miners on Christmas Day, wpH320
Miners On Christmas Day 1933, At Camp. wpH320

People from various cultural backgrounds, including Chinese, Scandinavian, American, and Irish decent, travelled to the Cariboo to escape the devastating effects of the Depression. Mining was a tough job though, and many men found themselves hard at work, often poor and unhealthy with little money to buy food and proper safety gear.

Employees of Island Mountain Mines, wpH256
Employees Of Island Mountain Sitting In Front Of Bunkhouse. wpH256
Miner with drill, wpH372
Miner With Drill In Stope. The White Streak Is The Vein With Gold In It. wpH372

Many struggled just to support their families; most were grateful to have work during the Depression. Food was generally expensive during the 30s since Wells was such an isolated town so the men had to work hard to feed their families. Few men ever struck it rich gold mining.


Since it can get to 40 degrees below celsius during the Cariboo winters, it was important to keep warm. A typical miner's outfit consisted of big boots, a wide-brimmed felt hat, woolly/cotton pants and plaid shirt, suspenders, kerchief, and a knife at the waist. Mining supplies could be purchased right in Wells after the businesses were built.

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Last updated:September 9, 2000