John Angus "Cariboo" Cameron


This pioneer  profile is being compiled from public records.   Family members have not been contacted.  Please forward any comments/corrections or additions to Wanda Story.


1820 - John Angus Cameron was born of Scottish descent.

1830 - Alexander Cameron was born in Scotland.

1845 - John and Alexander Cameron came to British America.  They settled with his parents in Glengarry, near the United Empire Loyalist settlement of Cornwall in Canada West.

-John began courting his sweetheart, Miss Sophia Graves from a neighbouring farm.

1852 - John Cameron and his brother Alan, headed for the gold fields of California.

1858 - John Cameron, and two brothers, Alexander and Roderick, travelled to the Fraser gold rush in the Cariboo.

 -John had two good told strikes and made $20,000.

-John returned to Cornwall and married Sophia Groves, his childhood sweetheart 12 years his junior.

1861 - John and Sophia had a daughter Alice Isabel.

1862 - John and his family arrived in Victoria on February 27th.  The long trip via the Panama Canal was hard on young Alice and she died at the age of 14 months, 5 days after they arrived in Victoria.  The couple then met Robert Stevenson, who offered them a partnership in the Antler Creek Store in the Cariboo so John and Sophia travelled to Antler Creek.  Soon they staked claims at upper Williams Creek.  He later moved down stream nearer Stout's Gulch.  A partnership was formed between John and Sophia, Allan McDonald, Richard Rivers, and Charles and James Clendennin.  The group would be known as Cameron & Co. and would stake 6 claims.  John and Sophia had another child but it was stillborn.  The winter was hard and typhoid was rampant. Sophia died of typhoid fever, then called mountain fever, on October 22nd or 23rd when the temperatures plummeted to -30 degrees.   Her dying wish was that her body be taken back home to Ontario.  She was temporarily buried at nearby Walkers Gulch.   One month later, on December 22, one mile below the Barker claim, the partnership struck gold.

1863 -John Cameron and James Cunning established the first area cemetery.    John Cameron offered $12 a day and a $2000 bonus at the end, to any man who would help him carry out Sophia's coffin from the William's Creek to Victoria.   It was a tough trip, with temperatures dipping to - 50 degrees.   They took Sophie's coffin over Yank's Peak in a middle of snow storm and had to leave the coffin near Little Snowshoe to take refuge from the storm.  The next morning they went back and pick up the coffin and continue on their way. The group travelled only 72 miles in the first 11 days.  They would finally arrive in Victoria on March 6 after a 36 day trip.  Sophia Cameron's coffin was filled with alcohol and then buried in Victoria in March.  John then returned to his Cariboo claim, he bought out the Clendennins and two other adjacent claims and mining commenced with as many men as he could hire.  The town of Cameronton grew up around the claim.   In October John returned to Victoria with $300,000 in gold.  He left November 8th and took Sophia's body by ship around South America and back to Glengarry,  in Ontario, Canada West. Sophia's father asked to see his daughter's face when the coffin arrived but John refused and she was buried again.   He shared his good fortune, believed to be eight pack horses laden with gold, with his five brothers.

1865 - John, now 45 years old, married Christy Anne "Emma" Wood, and would build her a lavish mansion.

- John invested in timber, the construction of the Lachine Canal and some eastern mines.

1872 - Rumours had spread that John had sold his first wife Sophia into slavery and that he had brought the coffin home filled with gold.  John after nine years, relented to pressure and had the coffin raised and drained the alcohol from the coffin which had helped to preserve Sophia's body.  The rumours were laid to rest but grass never again grew over Sophia's grave where the alcohol had been spilled.  Sophia was moved and buried for the last time at Summertown, near by the mansion that was built from the Cariboo gold. 

1881 - John and Christy Anne Cameron are listed in the census of Charlottenburg, Glengarry, Ontario.  John is listed as farmer and 60 years old.  Christy Anne is listed as his wife and 39 years old and born in Ontario but of German descent.  They are also listed with young Mary McPherson, 12 years old.  Alexander Cameron, brother of  John, is listed in the census as a gold miner, 51 years old and born in Scotland.

1886 - With his gold fortunes now reduced, John and his second wife returned to the Cariboo in search of more gold but the easy-to-reach gold was gone.  He worked a time in the Big Bend mines.

1888 - In September John returned to Barkerville.  On November 7th, at the age of 68, John Angus "Cariboo" Cameron died of a massive stroke. Reg. Number: 1888-09-234243.  He was buried in the Cameronton Cemetery.

1992 - Around this time the descendants of John Cameron had a plaque placed in his memory in Summertown.


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Last updated 04 December 2002