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First Nations

First Nations basket First Nations basket
First Nations baskets found in the river. Leftmost basket c. 1828.
A First Nations village at what is now Yale was inhabited for many thousands of years.

The townsite of Yale was situated on a Fraser river bar, but the bar was first used as a village site by the First Nations people. Artifacts recovered from there by archaeologists suggest that this area was inhabited 9000 years ago. In the gold rush days, the Native population in Yale was segregated to an area east of Yate street, or east of what was known as Chinatown.

East end of Yale
This is how the east end of Yale looked in 1881. (BC Archives: f-05149)

Primary sources written by individuals portray their personal perspective.

A range of written information exists from around the time of the gold rush, as some tried to document what they saw. A census of First Nations people in Yale was done by the Canadian government in 1878, and digitized copy is available here. The transcription below is a portion of page nine, which gives the census taker's opinions:

Lower Fraser Indians
Page 9 of 1878 Census
Click to see the original.(BC Archives)

During the fishing season these Indians earn from 1 on to 2 1/2 dollars per diem, which gives them a sufficiency of cash to supply themselves with all the necessaries of life without resorting to the cultivation of the soil for a [livelihood]. (BC Archives: gr-2928)

Chapman's Bar, 14 miles above Yale
This was taken by Fredrick Dally sometime between 1867 and 1870. (RBCM: photo # 00882)
Some photographers of the day attempted to preserve the look of the past.

Photographs of all descriptions were taken of those who lived around Yale. Some can be seen in the Royal British Columbia Museum Collection in the people section, but many more labelled 'Interior Salish' involving fishing can be viewed at the Pacific Coast Salmon Fisheries web site.

One of the first to build on the new town lots was the Hudson's Bay Company. See the site of the 1859 HBC store and warehouse.

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Last updated 31 August 1998.
This digital collection was produced under contract to Canada's Digital Collections Program, Industry Canada.
Produced by Canada's Digital Collections Team.