Lilloett, BC

Tuesday, January 20, 1863

My Dear Father & Mother,

I forwarded (   ) last (   ) a draft for 10 Pounds or 50 Dollars which I hope you have received it is all my means will afford at present to give you.  Dear Father I hope (you) will forgive my past (insensable) neglect for I do assure I feel the guilt.  I have not received a letter from you since I came to British Columbia which is three long years.  (   ) I have been in the one town all the time with the exception of a few trips to Cariboo.  Now I will try & tell you what I have been doing.  I left Victoria as a miner with six months (provisions) taking about all the money I had that is outside of a Lot in Victoria.  That cost $250 dollars.  When I got to (Bridge) River the provisions cost (phill   ) per pound.  I found no diggings of any account so of course I thought I was gone in as they say in this country.  But where shall I go California, Australia, Sandwich Islands, and the States.  I have tried & all to no (   ).  I (am) determined to stay by this country so long as a white man was in it.  Though most every body was leaving & cursing the country.  We (were) now 200 miles from civilization & must go up & on which we did.  I (am) with a small party of 8 men with two

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>horses loaded with grub (to) each man.  We travelled fro 21 days about 15 miles per day.  When we came to the place where Indians had paid gold (    ) in (gallons) quantities well there (were) a few good claims.  They paid as much as 40 dollars per day to the man but I could not get one as well as many others without going further as there were about forty men there before us & they had got all the ground  on (Bars) on the river up to the (forest) where men had to back (their) grub & take an axe to cut a trail before they could (ascend) the river. This was (Quenell) River which as since been worked out (or) at least as become unprofitable to work on account of the high price of provisions. Seeing so much hard work before me I offered my provisions for sale & made 80 dollars.  By the trip so straddled one of my mules and started back for Lilloet.  Bought more goods & got up a party of 10 men started again to Lilloet determined to try my hand at some thing milder than gold hunting The first thing offered itself was a small (drove) of cattle which myself & a friend bought & opened a Butcher shop.  I continued in this business for a twelve month & did pretty well but not satisfied to let well alone.  One bought a piece of property four miles from town & though we would make a fortune in little less than no time.

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undertook (to) span the notorious Frazer River with a bridge.  We got a charter from government & I will first say had we had no misfortune I should have been a rich man today but (alas) for my riches they have always been a little ahead of me.  Well we commenced the work.  It cost ten thousand dollars & within 5 days of completion a few (Curleys) men pulled the whole structure down.  The bridge was erected but not (capped) and bolted.  It was (    ) by ropes to keep it to its place One of the ropes got slack & the men were taking in the slack & pulled it over breaking it to (atoms) as it fell on the ice a distance of sixty feet.  Now I was ruined. The little property I possessed seized by my creditors & sold under The Hammer (fetching) about 2 shillings in the pound sterling.  Here I stood seven thousand dollars in debt.  Well I still had friends one man bought two thousand dollars worth of horses.  Thinks & (how) I was a packer that is I buy provisions & pack the horses to the mines for sale.  This is very laborious business.  One must be out all kind of weather to sleep under a roof is out of the question.  We put about 250 (pounds) of grub on each horse & distance from here to Cariboo is 300 miles. We make about four trips in the season going or coming. Every day from April to November & not on roads like you have at home no the greater part of the road.  The horse is up to his belly in mud & (   ).  I tell you it is dreadful work though it pays.  I should have some remarkable (week) if (I have to use that word again) the season had not set in 

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at least a month sooner than usual but I was caught in a snow storm as well as plenty others.  Here I had 13 valuable horses 2(  ) & 2 strong.  I lost at least by the storm as (many) hundred dollars in so much that they cost that amount & I could have sold them for that disgusted with packing I sold I sold the balance of my horses and paid a little of my debts since that time I have been butchering & farming together. (That) is I have a partner who (does) farming and (sell) beef milk & vegetables so that I am in a fair way again.  I think I shall be very cautious this time.  I am very comfortable. I have always lived of the best British Columbia could afford.  I like the country & (should) remain here until I make some money or rest my bones here.  I suppose you have heard awful stories read in the papers of wild Indians & murders.  (   ) will we have had a few white men murdered here by Indians but very few.  I think the Indians of British Columbia are the best tribe ever known.  They (    ) with us eat with us.  I have had an Indian Boy with me for the last 3 years.  There are some 6 or 7 hundred live right close to town.  Plenty of white men have Indian women for wives.  Well I must not omit to tell you how great a (traveler) I am.  Last July my friend & money finder for such I call him it is he that I get all my starts from wanted me to go to Cariboo in as little time as it was possible with good horses.  I started July 19th & got back on the 7th of August making 700 miles in 18 days & carried seven thousand down with me.  There are plenty of men would beat that but it is good I think for a (    ).  I will now close by promising to write more frequent.  My love to all relations & friends. Believe me your affectionate son,
William Kirkman

 

When You Visit

The museum is open on Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and on Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm. It is also open by appointment.

Admission is $7 per person or $25 for a household. Admission is free to all NARM and ROAM members. Kirkman House is also a Blue Star Museum that welcomes current servicemen, armed forces veterans and their families.