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Slumach's Lost Creek Gold Mine - Pitt Lake's Lost Gold Mine

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Slumach, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Slumach

    Slumach Guest

    Slumach and Pitt Lake Gold

    Early on a January morning in 1891, Slumach’s life ended at the gallows. The Katzie Indian
    had killed a man called Louie Bee. Bee and the sole witness, Seymour, were sitting in a
    canoe when Slumach shot Bee from the shore of the Alouette River. The victim, “a welldeveloped
    man of about 25 or 30 years of age,” according to the physician who did the
    post-mortem, was described in court as quarrelsome, always harassing Slumach, with
    threats of violence that made the old man fear for his life. Did the elderly Slumach feel
    threatened by the man approaching the shore—did he act to protect himself?

    Whether he killed in self-defence or not, at the time under Canadian law the penalty for
    murder was death by hanging. This was a pretty straightforward case for the Crown, and
    after deliberating for all of one quarter of an hour, the jury returned with the verdict that
    Slumach was guilty of murder. Today, considering the absence of any indication of
    premeditation in testimonies heard, and the known threats and provocations by Bee, a court
    might come up with a verdict of “voluntarily manslaughter.” Taking into account Slumach’s
    advanced age and that this was a first offence, punishment would probably be a few years
    in prison. But in 1891 under Canadian law the Crown claimed Slumach’s life.

    Under normal circumstances old Slumach and his tragic ending would have been long
    forgotten. Both victim and culprit were without social status in the white community, and
    the crime had no exceptionally daring or gruesome elements that could give it a place in
    local memory. What assured Slumach’s name a permanent spot in local lore was his
    supposed connection to the legendary gold of Pitt Lake.

    The legend of Pitt Lake gold, or Slumach’s gold as it became known, has its roots in the
    years of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, when maps were printed in California for the comfort
    of gold hunters heading north to the Fraser. These maps showed words like “Gold” and
    “Indian Diggings” in the country above Pitt Lake. Stories about an “Indian” finding gold in
    the Pitt Lake area kept circulating. In a 1915 interview Wilbur Armstrong, a Washington
    prospector preparing for his tenth and last search for Pitt Lake gold, identified the Indian
    who first discovered the gold as “Slumagh…hanged in the jail yard at New Westminster in
    1891.” Some prospectors at that time made money guiding gold hunting parties into the
    rugged Pitt Lake country, and a good story was needed to attract and convince investors
    and customers. Armstrong and his colleagues honed the old stories to perfection, creating
    the basis for all later tales.

    In the 1940s Slumach was given a new life. Pulp writers and journalists made Slumach into
    a much younger man, the centre attraction of New Westminster, where he supposedly
    frequented the bars, paying with raw gold. He received the flattering attention of dance-hall
    girls, and he took some of them with him into the wilderness—none returned. The press
    hanged Slumach again, this time for the murder of one of the girls, and had him taking the
    secret of the location of the mine with him, placing a curse on anyone trying to find it.

    If indeed anyone had walked around town with as much gold as the stories want us to
    believe Slumach did, there would have been a riot in New Westminster. It would be a
    miracle if Slumach had survived the torture of the mob trying to beat the secret of the
    location of the gold out of him, and there would have been a stampede to the Pitt Lake
    area. In those gold-crazed late 1800s the newspapers would have been full of stories about
    Slumach and Pitt Lake gold—but there is nothing about that in the local press of that time.
    Nevertheless Slumach’s name has remained linked to the legendary Pitt Lake gold to the
    present day, and there are many who still believe in the legend of his finding of an
    Eldorado, out there in the wilderness of Pitt Lake.

    We know very little about the real Slumach. The 1898 fire in New Westminster destroyed
    the records of the Indian Agent, and an important source of Katzie history went up in
    flames. In the surviving documents Slumach’s name only appears in an 1879 census
    showing him, “Slum.ook,” as one of seven adult Katzie staying at the Pitt River village at
    the south end of Pitt Lake. Slumach’s brother Smum-qua (Tsa mem.kwahm) was the head
    of that settlement.

    From the court records we know that Slumach had a daughter called Annie, who was
    present at the trial, and a 1926 newspaper article mentions Slumach’s widow. What else we
    know is all related to the crime. For their stories most journalists and writers relied heavily
    on the often flawed reports in New Westminster’s Columbian of 1890 and 1891. Some
    writers have excused themselves from studying the legal records by claiming that they were
    lost.
     

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