||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2012)|
Gold Commissioner was an important regional administrative post in the colonies of the British Empire where extensive gold prospecting took place including in Canada - Colony of British Columbia; in Australia - New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia; in New Zealand; and in South Africa. The key responsibilities of gold commissioners were to uphold law and order and to provide access to the gold fields, issue mining licences and register gold claims. Such a role was required due to the lawlesness that often followed gold rushes.
British Columbia (Canada)
In Colony of British Columbia during the 1860s, Governor Douglas had three priorities to protect the two colonies he governed: to protect the boundaries, to uphold law and order and to provide access to the gold fields. In 1859, the Pig War together with McGowan's War the previous year, underlined concerns that American settlers might challenge the British jurisdictions. After the native population in the Washington Territory was crushed and the area was opened to settlement, its non-native population grew rapidly to more than 11,000. General William Harney, after meeting with Douglas, reported to Washington that the population of the colony was largely American with few British and that it would soon be a commercial necessity for the colonists to yield Vancouver Island to the U.S. government. In these circumstances, Douglas enhanced the limited military capability of the Royal Engineers and developed the office of Gold Commissioner buttressed by the periodic visits of a traveling judge.
The ten Commissioner's were appointed to specific geographic jurisdictions. Their primary role was to issue mining licences and register gold claims. The commissioners also acted as agents of everyday authority. They settled mining disputes, collected government revenues, oversaw land claims, served as electoral officers and dealt with the natives. They displayed the British flag.:81 They acted as a receiver-cashier for gold, which was held until the Gold Escort could deliver it to the capital. A Gold Commissioner's powers and duties also encompassed the duties of Government Agent, Indian Agent, magistrate, Mines Commissioner, surveyor, sheriff, coroner and other duties. The powers of a Gold Commissioner within his designated jurisdiction were second only to the Governor. The position remained as a fixture in the new province when the colony joined Canada in 1871 although by the end of World War I nearly all Gold Commissioner positions had been devolved to separate offices, with the bulk of the office's power and legacy inherited by the Government Agent, who typically was also Indian Agent as well as Mines Commissioner, which was a post associated with each of the mining districts. The office of Chief Gold Commissioner continued, however, and still functions today as the administrator and chief regulatory authority for the Mineral Tenure Act, Coal Act and associated Acts dealing with the holding and maintenance of mineral and coal tenure (claims and leases) within British Columbia.
The current Chief Gold Commissioner (2012) of British Columbia is Madame May Mah-Paulson. Previous BC Chief Gold Commissioners include Edmund J. Collazzi, Anne Currie, Gary Townsend, Laurel Nash, Jody Shimkus, Lisa Nye, William Phelan, Patrick O’Rourke, Gerald German, Denis Lieutard, John Clancy, M.R. Rutherford, E.J. Bowles, R.H. McCrimmon, K.B. Blakey, P.J. Mulcahy, Robert J. Steenson, Peter O’Reilly, and Chartres Brew, the first to hold the office.
Law and order in the gold fields Maintaining law and order
- McGowan's War, Donald J. Hauka, New Star Books, Vancouver (2000) ISBN 1-55420-001-6
- British Columbia Chronicle,: Gold & Colonists, Helen and G.P.V. Akrigg, Discovery Press, Vancouver (1977) ISBN ISBN 0-919624-03-0
Maintaining law and order Pistols Law and order Men are robbed Tents are cut open Tar and feathers Gold licences 30 shillings a month (3 dollars)
When diggers dug they have to organise the law and order themselves. Nearly every night robbers cut open tents and rob the diggers gold so, the diggers have to keep a pistol under their pillow. Diggers watched the people get punished and laugh at the robbers, one there's favourite punishments was putting on the robbers and then feathers on them. Diggers had to pay 30 shillings to dig gold. Keeping gold safe
Gold dust Warm matchbox Guard dogs Hand commissioner Kept there gold is special bag Kept wax to seal it Transported gold to major cities Bush rangers
Diggers usually found gold dust so they have to warm it up, so they kept it in a warm matchbox to melt it together. They kept guard dogs so they don't have to hide there gold. They would hand their gold to commissioner to keep it safe if they didn't have a guard dogs. Some kept there gold in a special bag and they kept wax on its opening to seal it, to transport the gold to major city to keep it safe from bush rangers.
The licence system
Tied to a tree