Gold Rush

There had never been such excitement in the house. It was a hard-working and unforgiving life on this small Humberside1 farm with everyone over the age of five expected to contribute. It was clear as the children grew up that the commitment to hard wok and respectability would never leave them. 

My Mother

My mother, born in 1899 was one of the youngest. She remembered that the youngest children were virtually raised by their elder siblings until they could fend for themselves. This was not unusual when hard-working parents were respected but quite remote from their children. She remembers well the day the telegram came from her uncle in Canada. After the death of his parents this light-hearted young man had come to live with his elder brother and had become a much loved part of the family. Like so many others he was captivated by the news of the Yukon Gold Rush2 and had gone to seek his fortune. Either he was an amazingly confident and courageous young man or his life had been so restricted that he had no concept of the enormity of this adventure.

No word came from him, though none was expected, until the day that the telegram came. It explained excitedly that my great-uncle had made a big strike, that he would be sending over steam-ship tickets for all the family that he was buying a farm where they would all live in comfort.
The Iconic Image of the Gold Rush
There was some trepidation, but much excited planning until the second telegram came. This time it was from an official at the claim telling them, very bluntly, that my great-uncle had been found dead in the lake. Of course they wrote and asked about the claim but were told, after many weeks that it took for mail to travel, that there was no record of the claim and with their limited resources, that had to be accepted.
 
So this became the stuff of the Fussey family legend and now there is no-one left who could fill in the details. Still, it is interesting to speculate how different life might have been for this large family in Canada, and even more fascinating, what happened to the claim, and what was the cause of my great-uncle’s death. 
Janet Glasser lives in Cambourne. 

 

 

Footnotes

  1. In the north west of England, bordering Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire
  2. Following the discovery of gold in the Yukon in 1896, there was a huge migration of an estimated 100,000 people to the Klondike region of north-western Canada between 1897 and 1899, referred to as the stampede. Only about 30,000 actually made it. The Yukon Gold Rush also known as The last Great Gold Rush, left a body of literature that popularized and romanticized Yukon

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