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Cameron returned to Williams Creek and bought
out the Clendennings and two adjacent claims, giving him a full five shares
in the Company. The Cameron Co. mined vigorously from April until October
of 1863. The gold was being mined not by the ounce but by the pan. By October,
Cameron was ready to leave and he with Stevenson and eight horses laden
with gold left Cariboo for Victoria. In total, Cameron had taken out the
equivalent of $5 million in today's dollars and
The Cameron Co. Claim had proved to be the richest in the
A town had grown up around the claim and was christened Cameron's Town or
Cameronton. It was situated just north of Barkerville, below the cemetery.
Sophia was exhumed and continued on her
journey; via boat to San Francisco, Panama and New York; where customs officials
were dubious as to the contents of the sealed coffin due to its massive
weight. Nonetheless, by December of 1863, after completing the last leg
of the journey by rail, the coffin finally reached Canada West. Sophia was
again buried, in the family plot in Cornwall.
At home, Cameron was generous with his money.
Two brothers received $20,000 while two others, Alex and Roderick, who had
actually come to Cariboo and helped John mine were given $40,000 and a farm
each. Cameron himself built himself a beautiful estate on the banks of the
St. Lawrence seaway which he called Fairfield after his grandfather's former
estate in New York state. In 1865, 'Cariboo' Cameron married Christianne
Woods, the daughter of a respectable neighbour and for a while they lived
the good life.
However, rumours continued to grow. Why
had John spent so much effort bringing Sophia back? Some speculated that
he had sold her into slavery and the coffin was filled with reserve gold.
Cameron tried to ignore the rumours but when a New York paper printed a
story stating that Sophia had escaped slavery and had returned to Fairfield
Estate he could ignore no longer. Sophia's parents were summoned from Ottawa
and the coffin was for the fourth time exhumed and the alcohol drained.
Sophia, preserved in the alcohol, was identified by her parents and laid
to rest for the final time in the Salem Cemetery near Cornwall.
In 1886, his fortune reduced, 'Cariboo'
Cameron and his second wife returned to Cariboo to seek further wealth.
Upon arrival Cameron was shocked; the town of Barkerville was a shell of
it's former self, Cameronton just a few ramshackle buildings. Soon after
he arrived in Barkerville he suffered a massive stroke and died, some friends
say of a broken heart. On November 7, 1888 he was carried up the hill and
buried in the same cemetery he had located for young Peter Gibson twenty-five
Harry Jones, a Welsh miner, said this about
Cameron's funeral "I went over from Van Winkle to attend his funeral.
There was a big crowd. But there would have been more had he been rich.
It is that way."
J. M. Young
-Anderson, James, Sawney's Letters and Cariboo Rhymes, Barkerville Restoration
and Advisory Committee, Return to top of page | Return
-BC Biographies, Vol. III, pp 76-79
-Berton, S. The Odyssey of Cariboo Cameron
-Lindsay, F. W. Cariboo Story
-Mining Records of Williams Creek Vol. 561
-Manual of Records of William's Creek Vol 559
-Smith, Edgar D. The Golden Grief of Cariboo Cameron
-Wright, Richard Thomas. Barkerville: A Gold Rush Experience , 1993