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A Chronology of Horsefly


This history is in constant update and revision. Please forward any comments/corrections or additions to Wanda Story. The goal is to make this account as accurate as possible.


1859 - The first gold found in the Cariboo along the Horsefly River. There are mining records that state that H.O. Bowe and his group found gold 10 miles above the Horsefly River in April. The records also state that John McLean and his party found gold at the same point a month later. The official credit however goes to Peter Curran Dunlevey and his party including Tom Manifee, Tom Moffitt, Jim Sellers, Ira Crow and the same John McLean who were lead to the Horsefly River by a native guide named Long Baptiste. It has been said that just 12 hours later another group of men including Hans Helgesen, George Black, Joe Devlin, Duncan McMartin and Neil Campbell arrived in the area.

- A group of Chinese men set up a mining claim as the China Company.

1884 - Thaddeus Harper, founder of the Gang Ranch, obtained sizable leases in the Horsefly area and began setting up the first hydraulic mine under the name of the Horsefly Gold Mining Co.

1885 - Thaddeus Harper had the land surrounding the China Company claim under lease. A group of men were prospecting on Black Creek, a tributary of the Horsefly River.

1886 - Most of the gold coming from Horsefly was from the Chinese Horn King claim. Thaddeus Harper was building winter quarters for his men and horses teams and it became known as Harper's Camp.

1887 - A second gold rush period hit the Horsefly area. Thaddeus Harper had a large force of men working on his hydraulic mine.

1888 - Thaddeus Harper was not having the success he had anticipated at the hydraulic mine and sold the Gang Ranch in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid personal bankruptcy. Dan McCallum and Co. opened a claim 5 miles below the Harper Claim called the Discovery Co. and was having some success.

1889 - Senator R. H. Campbell came to Horsefly, originally from San Francisco, California.

1891 - The Harper claim was now being worked by R. T. Ward and he was having some success. The Miocene Gravel Mining Company was operating and run by Senator R. H. Campbell. The Miocene Company had sunk an exploratory shaft into a gulch to a depth of 550 feet, but they would find no gold. Harry Walters came to Horsefly and worked for John Hobson.

1892 - John B. Hobson leased the Discovery Co. mine from Dan McCallum for the CPR.

-A sleigh road was built from 150 Mile House to Horsefly for winter traffic.

1893 - John B. Hobson took over the Horsefly Hydraulic Mining Co. which had 30 whites and 30 Japanese men working. The mine would need $100,000 to reach working order.

1894 - The 1894 Voters list (Williams Lake Polling Division) lists 27 men eligible to vote in Horsefly.

- W. P. Hall brought the first family to Horsefly.

1895 - On September 1st, E. Pollerfen was made the postmaster of Horsefly.  Harry Walters married Alva Youngker, the first white women to come to Horsefly on September 4th in Clinton.

1896 - It is said that the Horsefly Hydraulic Hydraulic Mine recovered $150,000 in gold from 1894-1896, buy it was getting increasingly difficult to break up the gravel and costs began to run high. A hotel and saloon was established by Alex Meiss. Harry and Alva Walters had a daughter Hazel Walters, the first white child to be born in Horsefly on July 19. She received a locket of gold mined from the Horsefly Mine from the manager John Hobson as a momento. Alexander Meiss came from Victoria, BC to Horsefly. Brother and sister, Chesley and Lena Bell came to Horsefly from Texas.

1897 - Harry Walters built a 17 room hotel, saloon and Post Office in Horsefly. On July 1st, Harry L. Walters was made the postmaster of Harpers Camp.  On August 28th, E. Pollerfen resigned as the postmaster of Horsefly.  Photo of the Miocene Mine.

1898 - On March 1st, Andrew Green was appointed the new postmaster of Horsefly. While out riding alone it is believed near Lac La Hache, Thaddeus Harper suffered a fall from his horse and was kicked in the face. He was found unconscious a day later and spent six weeks in the hospital in Victoria. Thaddeus Harper died in Victoria on December 9th at the age of 65. The 1898 BC Directory included 10 listings for Horsefly and Harpers Camp. Alexander Meiss, a saloon operator married Matilda Gaspard of Dog Creek. R. T. Ward moved to Horsefly, his wife and children only came during the summers. William (Bill) Reid, an Irishman, came to Horsefly from Boston. On August 19th, Andrew Green resigned as the postmaster of Horsefly.  Photo of the Walters family home.

1899 - On April 1st, W. H. G. Thompson became the new postmaster of Horsefly.  The Horsefly Hydraulic Mine ceased working, the costs of extracting the gold were too high.

- The Patenaude family came to Horsefly after the Pinchbeck Ranch in Williams Lake was sold and lived at the Woodjam Ranch. Joseph Phillip and his second wife Maria nee Bradshaw, came with sons Albert Joseph, Ernest and Spencer Hope daughter Ida.

1901 - Joseph Patenaude was listed in the BC Directory as a rancher and the Justice of the Peace. Albert Patenaude was listed as a rancher, Ernest Patenaude was listed as a miller.

1902 - "The Store" was built in along side the river at Horsefly and was a branch of the Harvey Bailey Company in Ashcroft. Jim Sutherland ran the store. Mining ceased at the Horsefly Gold Mining Company, the last of the big mines still operating and Horsefly fell into hard times. Tommy Peterson build a house on property he bought from A. B. Campbell. John R. Williams took over the Harper Lease from R. T. Ward. Henry and Alma Walters had a son Glenn Henry born in Horsefly.

1904 - Alexander Meiss build a new three storey hotel with 14 rooms and called it the City Hotel. John Wawn came to Horsefly from Lillooet and was later the Justice of the Peace. John Williams was working in the Ward Mine.

1905 - James and Mabel Wiggins came and James was the caretaker for the Hobson Mine.   On January 20th, Harry L. Walters was dismissed as Harper's Camp postmaster for political partisanship.  On March 1st, J. P. Patenaude was made the new postmaster.

1908 - On May 11th, J.P. Patenaude resigned as the Harpers's Camp postmaster.  The Post Office at Horsefly Mine was closed and mail was sent to the Harpers Camp Post Office. On July 1st S. H. Patenaude became the new postmaster.  Bill Boswell and Billy Waddell came to Horsefly.  Neil Robertson came from Scotland to Horsefly and pre-empted 160 acres in the Beaver Valley.  He built many log homes in the area including Glen Walters home.

1909 - On Feb 1st, S. H. Patenaude resigned as the postmaster of Harper's Camp. On March 1st, Albert J. Patenaude became the new postmaster.   Eddy Isham and Dorothy West came and re-opened the Hobson Mine which had been closed the past 7 years.

1910 - Joseph Patenaude operated The Store.  The first school board was organized and included John Wawn, Alex Meiss and Harry Walters. They in turn hired Annie Moore (who later became the wife of Albert Patenaude) as the first teacher. The school was set up in a refurbished bunkhouse on the Walters Hotel property. Alexander Meiss brought the first car, a McLaughlin, to Horsefly in June. Bernhardt (Ben) Gruhs and his son Ben Jr. came to Horsefly. Originally from Germany they had lived in Iowa and Lewston, Idaho. Later Mrs. Gruhs and three more children arrived.  William Reid returned to Harpers Camp in the late summer, he is said to have liked the area.  He brought his young wife Bessie and their one year old son. The lived in a tent and in December Bessie gave birth to girl with the assistance of Mrs. Ford a midwife.

1911 - Rene Chandler (who later married Bryson Patenaude) was hired as the new school teacher.  It is said that William Reid ran into trouble with the law and he left the area in the summer.

1912 - Roy Jones was hired as the school teacher. Romeo MacEachern, William Bent and Alexander Meiss built a bridge across the Horsefly River. The men charged a 25 cent toll to cross it. The alternative was to wade the river. Alex and Robert Robertson came from Scotland to join their brother Neil Robertson in Horsefly. Thomas Oscar Hooker, a boiler maker came to Horsefly from Oregon, USA.

1913 - Alex Nicol came to Horsefly.

1914 - William G. Thompson died on November 1st at the age of 84 and is the first death listed by BC Vital Statistics as occurring in Harpers Camp. Frank Jones, brother of Roy Jones moved to Horsefly. Julius (Lance) and Orval Thygasen came to Horsefly.

1915 - John Williams sold the Harper Lease to Captain Dogherty.

1916 - J. P. Patenaude gave up operating The Store. On April 3rd, Albert J. Patenaude resigned as the postmaster of Harpers Camp.  On June 1st, Mrs. A. Meiss became the new postmistress.  Photo of the Horsefly Hotel. 

1917 - The Walters Hotel burned down.

1918 - Thomas Sharkey died on August 1st and is the first death officially registered as occurring in Horsefly by BC Vital Statistics. Henry (Harry) Walters died.

1919 - A proper schoolhouse was built in Horsefly.  The Wrigley's directory lists Harpers Camp at a population of 125 .  Mrs. Meiss is listed as the postmistress, C. Bell is listed as operating the general store, and Alexander Meiss is listed as running the local hotel.

1920 - The townspeople voted to officially change the name of the community of Harpers Camp to Horsefly. The second school was built, a log cabin on the hill across from the first school.

1921 - The Store was purchased by Al Campbell and his wife Alva nee Walters. The Campbells were also operating the store at Quesnelle Dam.  On July 1st, the Harper's Camp post office was officially re-named Horsefly post office.

1923 - On July 17th, Mrs. M. A. Meiss resigned as the postmistress of Horsefly.   On the 15th of November, 73 years old William David McDougall was appointed the new postmaster of Horsefly.

1928 - Alexander Meiss died and was one of only three people ever buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery in Horsefly.

1933 - On May 14th, William David McDougall, resigned after nearly 10 years as the postmaster of Horsefly.  On July 4th, Mrs. Margaret Alexandro Parminter was appointed the new postmistress.

1940 - On July 4th, Margaret Alexandro Parminter resigned after 7 years as the Horsefly postmistress.

1983 - The first church was finally built in Horsefly, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


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Comments and corrections always welcome !!

Last updated 14 September, 2004