Why wasn't the Cariboo an absolute chaos during the goldrush? All the ingredients were there: lots of miners from all over Europe and North America, far from families, governments, and other civilizing influences, desperate for gold. They didn't have roads or courthouses or post offices when it all started. The Cariboo should have been a dangerous, scary place. There were some fights and murders, but it wasn't "wild". Why not? Because of James Douglas (1803-1877), Governor of the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, known as "the father of British Columbia." Hard-working, intelligent and well-read, confident and decisive, Douglas was in many ways an ideal governor - though some called him vain and autocratic.
Real tensions existed between miners and the Nlaka'pamux, the First Nations people linving in the heart of the Fraser Canyon. The Aboriginal peoples of the Fraser Canyon wanted a negotiated agreement with the miners and the Colony of British Columbia before allowing the miners to enter their territory. The Fraser Canyon was the territory of the Nlaka’pamux nations, who did not want miners to explore up river beyond Yale and into their territory until an access agreement was negotiated. A series of brief battles was fought during the weeks that define the Fraser River War. A number of Aboriginal towns were ransacked and burned; men, women, and children were murdered. The war ended with the arrival of Governor Douglas and the Royal Engineers in Yale.
From 1851 to 1864, he was Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island. In 1858, he also became the first Governor of the Colony of British Columbia, in order to assert British authority during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. He remained governor of both Vancouver Island and British Columbia until his retirement in 1864. He is often credited as "The Father of British Columbia". By 1857, Americans and British were beginning to respond to rumours of gold in the Thompson River area. Almost overnight, some ten to twenty thousand men moved into the region around present-day Yale, British Columbia, sparking the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush.
Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie becomes one of the first officials of the new Crown Colony of British Columbia. Begbie would become B.C.'s most famous judge, often referred to as a "hanging judge." He took law and order seriously and won the respect of miners and citizens of the towns he served.