So we now know that alcohol was a major
part of the everyday lives of many people living in Victoria around the
time of the 1860's. "Who Drank And Why Did They" will attempt to give an
idea of what it was like to live on Vancouver Island during the 1860's.
If we are to look at the amounts of liquor that were available along with
the transient lifestyle it is easy to see why people participated in
drinking so much.
When in the summer of 1858 James Douglas
announced that gold had been found in the Fraser River Valley it marked a
turning point in the history of the province.
News quickly spread south, down to California and the American
miners were quick to pack and head north in hopes of striking it rich.
These miners were to be the new breed of settler in the Vancouver Island
Colony. The "village of Victoria" rapidly grew into a town and was on
its way to becoming a metropolis. (18)
Such growth was not entirely beneficial to all people and in turn,
many problems plagued the city.
In Terry Reksten's More British then the British
he states that "residents of the colony were unprepared when they
found themselves in the middle of a gold rush."
At first the city had little means of accommodating the flow of
people as they made their way to the Fraser Valley. But soon, the residents
saw that there was money to be made off of the migrant miner population.
Hotels soon sprung up all over Victoria and most were accomidated with saloons.
The population was made up of mainly young men, with care free attitudes
towards life and their money, often spending their money as soon as they
Some of the people who ahd been living in Victoria
for a while felt the the new miners were a group of men that were not of
the best character. It was believed that they were people that were looking
to make a buck at any cost and by any means possible. Miners were not
seen as representing the ideals of the "British Society," which worried
some of the upper class, but it did not mean they were above accepting the
money that the lower class was bringing in to the colony.
Miners were not the only problem living in and around Victoria
at the start of the 1860's.