The Legend of the Lost Mine of Pitt Lake
By Daryl Friesen

Chapter One: A Discovery Made

Rick Johnson and I were both twelve years old when we walked through the doors of the library in my hometown of Langley, BC. I had no idea what I would find that day. My heart was just thrilled with the wonder of finding something about lost treasure in British Columbia. Something to put out the growing fire in my belly that was started by my father who took me up into the hills near Yale BC one summer to an ancient abandoned silver mine. I had crawled inside into the mine's darkness and got my first taste of what it was like to reach out and touch the mysterious things hidden in the past. At that moment, I knew I had finally found my calling in life.

My first destination once I was inside the library was the reference desk. At the time I was reading all kinds of treasure books by a fellow named Karl Von Mueller. His advice was that they were the best sources of information. As Rick and I walked up to her desk I could feel my heart beating. She had the look of a very mean schoolteacher I once had in the second grade. This reference librarian, to this day, does not know that she was about to change a little boy's life with the information that she was about to place before him. I walked up to her as she sat behind the reference desk her glasses down on the tip of her noise. She was chatting with one of her fellow librarians. When she saw me she looked at my face with a puzzled curiosity. I was probably glowing with the wonder and emotion that I was filled with as a child because of the secret passion for treasure I carried inside me no matter what I was doing.

"What may I help you with young man?" she asked.

"I was wondering if you could help me find some information." I responded nervously because she was an adult and adults at the time made me nervous. They always acted like they knew what they where doing, and as I child I didn't know what I was doing other than following those little voices within me.

"Yes I can, but you will have to will have to tell me what kind of information you are looking for before I can help you," she said, sounding like a school teacher.

"I'm searching for information on lost treasure in BC." I responded.

"Ah… I think I know just what you are looking for." she said. With that she got up and walked across the library. I quickly followed her as she made her way to a large filing cabinet across the room where she began searching the paper files.

"Let's see now…I know it's here somewhere…yes, here we go." she said as she handed me a large envelope titled 'Pitt Lake Lost Gold Mine.' "Now, you can only sighn out five articles."

"Okay." I said, as Rick and I stared in wonder at the file, which I spilled out on the table in front of us. I picked up one of the articles and started to read. Little did I know that I had already found my first gold nugget.

New Westminster (1889) The Legend of Slumach the Indian and the Lost Mine of Pitt Lake

The old Indian Slumach walked the dusty streets of New Westminster with his backpack hanging heavy on his back. He was growing tired, as at last he had returned to civilization after spending weeks in the mountains behind Pitt Lake where his greatest secret awaited him. Hidden deep in those mountains away from the prying eyes of the white man, there was a river that contained gold nuggets the size of walnuts. It was enough to make a man rich for a thousand lifetimes, but he would tell no man where it was. He would take its secret to his grave.

The legend tells us Slumach entered one of the many saloons that lined Columbia Street which he did on several occasions after making one of his many trips to his secret mine. As he entered the bar, he sat down and ordered himself a whiskey. Some of the patrons glared at him as he reached into his backpack and paid the bartender with a gold nugget. He watched their eyes light up with greed. He then reached into his backpack and tossed several more nuggets across the floor just to have the satisfaction of watching the white man fight each other over the gold that was their god.

Slumach made several visits of this kind to New Westminster in his day, spending his gold on drink and woman until his cache went dry. He would then head off into the mountains behind Pitt Lake only to return with more of the yellow metal and do it all over again. Several prospectors in the town even tried to follow him to his mine, but he lost them all in those treacherous mountains. However, Slumach's luck would not last forever…

The next time he returned to town, Slumach attracted the attention of a young woman named Molly Tynan. Using her womanly charms she was able to make friends with Slumach in the hope she would be the one to learn the location of his treasure. Molly got close to him all right and he took her into the mountains on her next trip. She grew excited as the two of them paddled up the lake in Slumach's canoe. Molly was in front and Slumach in the back. As they got closer to the head of Pitt Lake, Slumach took out a hunting knife and plunged it into Molly's back. She gave out one loud blood-curdling scream as Slumach pushed her out of the canoe and into the lake. That's where he made the mistake that would cost him everything, so the legend tells us

. Shortly after Slumach returned to town from his last trip, a fisherman on the Lower Fraser River recovered Molly's body with Slumach's knife sticking out of her back. The knife was identified as his and he was hunted down and captured by the RCMP. Slumach then had a quick trial where he was found guilty of murder and rushed to the gallows. Before Slumach was hung, when he stood waiting for the platform to fall, he mumbled a curse on all those who tried to find his secret mine, "MEKA MEMOOSE MINE MEMOOSE."

It is said that at least 30 prospectors have gone to their death while searching for Slumach's gold. His first victim was said to be a prospector from San Francisco who went by the name of Jackson.

"The library will be closing in five minutes," a voice said over the loud speaker as I read the information in front of me. I looked at the dozens of newspaper articles that were laid before me on the table. I had to choose five.. I signed out the one with the skull and all the ones about Jackson. Rick and I strooled out of the library proudley at what we had found as we walked towards are bikes and started to unlock them.

Five jeans jacket wearing rockers were riding their BMXs towards us. When we both realized who they were, I could feel my heart going into my throat. The leader of the rocker gang was meanest bully from school, Lon Funk who was closely followed by his sidekick and loyal lackey Chris Keller. The other rockers were their mean spirited thugs whose names I can no longer remember. All of which acted like Lon's own personal stormtroopers and would beat us up senseless at his command.

"Hey look! It's Friesen and Johnson!" I heard Lon yell as I watched the crowd of BMX bikes head in our direction.

"They saw us!" I yelled to Rick. "Let's split up! I'll go this way and you go that way! I'll call you when I get home!" and with that Rick headed down 56th Avenue in a westward direction as fast as he could pedal. I cut to the east and headed back across the Zellers parking lot. Unfortunately, as my luck would have it, they all followed me, except one whom I am sure Rick would lose in no time. I looked behind as I pedaled my mountain bike across the parking lot with Lon and his gang closing in fast. I took a sharp turn to the south, blasted out onto 204th Street and headed for the nature trails at the end of the road where I thought I cold lose them. I pedaled and pedaled, but to no avail they where closing in fast on both sides of me.

"It's no use Friesen! Give it up!" Lon cried as he grabbed the handlebars of my bike trying to slow me down. I kicked his bike with my foot and I almost sent him crashing into a parked car. I continued speeding down the road and changed my mind about the nature trails. I took a sharp right on 53rd Avenue when I reached the light on 203rd. It was red, but I could not stop or I knew I would be caught and beaten by the thugs. I bolted across the street and was almost taken out by a large dump truck that let out an angry honk as I cut in front of him. The move worked because Lon and his thugs where forced to stop at the light as I continued up 203rd. When I got to the Nicomekl River bridge, I cut down onto a dirt trail and followed it through the woods as fast as I could pedal. As I looked back, Lon and his goons were nowhere to be seen. I had lost them.

I touched the Pitt Lake file that was now under my jacket. When I got home I said hi to my mom and ran into my room. I sat down at my desk and started reading once again. This is what I read next.

The first recorded prospector to go in search of Slumach's Gold after his death was a veteran prospector from the Gold Fields of Alaska named Jackson, who heard about the gold in San Francisco. When he arrived in the New Westminster area he interviewed several of the local Indians and headed off into the mountains behind Pitt Lake to try his hand at finding the fabled eldorado. No one heard or saw Jackson for several months until local Katzie Indian chief Peter Pierre found him on the east side of Pitt Lake. When Peter first found Jackson his skin was cut, his clothes were in rags, and he was clutching his backpack. Peter brought Jackson back out to New Westminster where Jackson caught the first boat back to California. When Jackson returned home, he got very sick and feared he would not be able to return to the Pitt Lake country again. He wrote a letter to a friend of his named Shotwell describing what he found in those forbidden mountains. His letter reads as follows:

Tent Shaped Rocktent shaped rockI had been out for over two months and found myself running short of grub, I had lived mostly on fresh meat for one can't carry much of a pack in those hills. I found a few very promising ledges and colours in the little creeks but nothing I cared to stay with. I had almost made up my mind to light out the next day. I climbed to the top of a sharp ridge and looked down into the canyon or valley about one and a half miles long, and what struck me as singular; it appeared to have no outlet for the creek that flowed at the bottom. Afterwards I found that the creek entered a ------- and was lost. After some difficulty I found my way down to the creek. The water was almost white; the formation for the most part had been slate. Now comes the interesting part. I had only a small prospecting pan but I found colours at once right at the surface, and such colours they were. I knew then that I had struck it right at last. In going upstream I came to a place where the bedrock was bare, and there, you could hardly believe me, the bedrock was yellow with gold. Some of the nuggets were as big as walnuts and there were many chunks carrying quartz. After sizing it up, I saw there was millions stowed around in the little cracks. On account of the weight I buried part of the gold at the foot of a large tent shaped rock facing the creek. You can't miss it. There is a mark cut in it. Taking with me what I supposed to be ten thousand dollars (in gold) but afterwards it proved to be a little over eight thousand dollars. After three days hard travelling, it would not have been over two days good going, but the way was rough and I was not feeling well, I arrived at the lake and while resting there was taken sick and never since been able to return, and now I fear I never shall. I am alone in the world, no relatives, no one to look after me for anything. Of course I have never spoken of this find during any of this time for fear of it being discovered. It has caused me many anxious hours, but the place is so well guarded by surrounding ridges and mountains that it should not be found for many years, unless someone knew of it being there. Oh, how I wish I could go with you to show you this wonderful place, for I cannot give you any exact directions, and it may take a year or more to find. Don't give up but keep at it and you will be repaid beyond your wildest dreams. I believe any further directions would only tend to confuse it, so I will only suggest further that you go alone or at least only take one or two trusty Indians to pack food and no one need know but that you are going on a hunting trip until you find the place and get everything for yourself. When you find it and I am sure you will, should you care to see me, advertise in the 'Frisco Exam.' and if I am still living I will either come to see you, or let you know where you can find me, but once more I say to you, don't fail to look this great opportunity up and don't give up until you find it. Now good bye and may success attend you. Yours truly, W. Jackson

If this letter is true, as many prospectors believe that it is, then there is indeed a fortune in gold waiting to be found somewhere in the mountains at the head of Pitt Lake. The origin of this letter comes from a local author by the name of N.L. Barlee who says that it was found among some papers belonging to another prospector who followed in Jackson's footsteps. This fellow went by the name of Robert A Brown or Volcanic Brown as he was called by those who knew him in British Columbia.

"Daryl! Time for dinner!" my mom called as I sat at my desk devouring my new found information.

"I will be right there!" I called back, not wanting to leave this mass of information whose surface I had just scratched.

"Hurry up it's getting cold!" she yelled again, so I turned off my reading light and headed for the kitchen.

As I walked into the kitchen the smell of roast beef consumed me. My father and my brother where both sitting around the table engaged in a conversation about motorcross racing. My brother was an expert motorcross racer and a force to be reckoned with on any track that blessed his presence. The conversations at dinner were generally dominated by his struggles to succeed at this highly dangerous, but exciting sport.

"Dad, if I could get a factory 125 like the one Larry Ward is riding, I know I could do so much better," my brother said to my father as I sat down at the dinner table.

I don't think it's a better bike that wins the race. I think it takes a better rider," my Dad explained in his rational way. "Maybe if you trained harder, you could do better," he suggested. My brother picked at his rice with frustration at my father's comment.

"What were you up to today?" my mom asked as I started to devour my roast beef.

"Well, I got some information from the library that is really great." I explained. "Dad do you think some time you could take me to Pitt Lake?"

"Why? What's up there?" he asked with curiosity.

"There's supposed to be a lost gold mine up behind the Pitt Lake Mountains."

"Oh really?" he answered.

"You should have a look at some of the articles I have, it's amazing! This old Indian named Slumach found a river where he removed gold nuggets the size of walnuts!" I could see

the look on my Dad's face. The story was not washing with him.

"If there was that much gold up there, I am sure it would have been found by now," he said, "but I don't see why when Spring comes we can't take the boat up there and have a look anyway."

Hearing those words gave me so much joy I wanted to cheer with the excitement. I would at last be given the chance to go on my first treasure hunt. I had to phone Rick. The conversation soon drifted back to motorcross anyway. My brother started to talk about whom he was going to be racing against on Thursday at Hanagan.

When dinner was over I raced into my parents' bedroom and closed the door. It was the only phone one could use and get some privacy. I couldn't wait to tell him the great news.

"Hello?" a raspy voice answered.

"Yes, is Rick there?" I asked.

"Ricky! Come get the phone!"


"Hey Rick, it's Daryl"

"Hey how's it going? Did you get caught by Lon?"

"No man, I lost them. Did you have any problems?" I asked.

"No. They gave up on chasing me and went after you," he replied.

"Yeah I know, but let's not worry about that right now. I have some good news. In the spring, my Dad's going to take me to Pitt Lake."

"Pitt lake? Where's that?" Rick asked.

"Remember the file we took today? I have been reading it and according to the info that I have read, Slumach's gold is supposed to be hidden up behind Pitt Lake." I explained.

"That's cool!" Rick said, "Can I come?"

"I don't think my Dad will have a problem with that."

"Daryl, are you using the phone in my room again? I told you to stop doing that. Are you sitting on the bed too?" I could hear my mom yelling from the hallway.

"Look Rick, I have to go. I will see you in class tomorrow."

"Ok bye," As I was hanging up the phone my mom ran into the room and nagged me for sitting on her bed and messing up the sheets, but who cares when life was good and adventure was on its way.

That night the light above my desk burned long into the night as I kept reading the Pitt Lake file and the story of this lost gold mine. The more I read, the more it started to reveal itself about Volcanic Brown. He had a prospector missing while searching for Slumach's gold. Here is one of the articles I read:

Volcanic' Brown Lost in Mountains
Prospecting in Pitt Lake Country and Not Seen Since Middle of August

Grand Forks Gazette - November 6, 1931 - "Volcanic" R.A. Brown, who has made his home 12 miles north of Grand Forks for the past 40 years, and famous alike as a prospector and herb-doctor, is again reported lost in the hills near the coast.

Search Parties Out - The following dispatch appeared in Tuesday's Daily Province: R.A. "Volcanic" Brown, 86, prospector, is believed lost in the mountains north of Pitt Lake, and a party left Vancouver this morning to look for him. The party, headed by Game Warden G.C. Stevenson and Provincial Constable E. Murphy of Vancouver, is going here by boat.

The aged prospector was last seen in the Pitt country on August 17, when a prospector named Swanson, who was on his way out sold him beans and rice to add to his food supply. It is believed that Brown's food would last him only until about the middle of September unless he shot some game. Brown intimated to Swanson that he would try and cross the big glacier before snow set in. The search party is equipped with snowshoes as they expect to find deep drifts. Brown, it is believed, may be marooned in a shack about twenty miles from the head of Pitt Lake.

Lost Six Years Ago - Brown was lost in the Pitt Lake country about six years ago, and a search party of police found him slowly progressing over a glacier. One of his toes had been frost bitten and he had amputated it. He was warned then of the great risks...

The party that went in to search for old Volcanic Brown in 1928 was made of Herman Gardner, Constable Spud Murphy, Alvin Patterson, Caleb Gardner and Harry Corder to begin there search they started there journey by heading north from Pitt lake and then climbing up to the headwaters of seven mile creek where the crossed the divided to Homestead Glacier until the arrived in a place called Porcupine valley from there the crossed the seven miles that make up Stave Glacier when the arrived at the place where the Stave Glacier ended and the Upper Stave River formed the found the remains of what was Volcanic Browns camp. In the remains of his camp the party made a remarkable to discovery and was once again to be more prove of lost mine. The found a glass jar containing eleven ounces of gold which had been hammered out of a vein. Volcanic Brown was never found his body believed to be frozen deep in one of the crevasses which make up the giant Stave Glacier.

Volcanic Brown does indeed have to be the Pitt Lakes most famous victim by far. He is very well known in the province of British Columbia because of his famous prospect in the Princeton area known as Copper Mountain.

I found myself reading Pitt lake articles all night and my head was spinning with the new facts that I learnt, but it was to be a long wait till I could ever step foot in those mountains. Winter crawled by slowly while I waited for the first light of spring. During that time I came across another piece of Pitt Lake information which brought a whole new light on the legend of the lost mine. It was the discovery of a book I found in the Brookswood library titled "Kwatsan" or Tales of the Golden Ears by a local author named Donald E Waite. I took the book home and I devoured it. It was magical because it told the truth about what really happened to old Slumach. I learned that he was not hung for the murder of an Indian maiden, but was in fact hung for the murder of a half-breed named Louis Bee on Allouette Slough back in 1891. Here are the newspaper accounts that were revealed in Don Waite's book.


Shot Dead - 9 September 1890 Louis Bee, a half-breed is deliberately shot and killed by an insane Indian named Slumach at Lillooet Slough. A terrible unpremeditated murder was committed yesterday afternoon at a point on Lillooet Slough (afterwards Alouette), not far from Pitt River, and some two and a half miles above Pitt River Bridge. An Indian named Slumach, aged about sixty years, was hunting in this neighbourhood, and coming out of the bush, with his double-barrelled shotgun in hand, found several other Indians trout fishing on the banks of the Slough.

A half-breed named Louis Bee sauntered up to Slumach and asked him in a casual way what he was shooting around here. Without a moment's warning, or any preliminary sign of anger, Slumach instantly levelled his gun at Bee and fired. Just before the discharge of the piece, Bee held up his hands and begged Slumach not to shoot. The distance between the two men was so short that the whole charge entered the victim's body, just under the armpit, behind the shoulder blade. Death was instantaneous, and Bee fell without a moan and weltering in his blood, while his murderer coolly proceeded to reload his piece.

One of the Indians who witnessed the awful deed immediately fled, not only to give the alarm, but from motives of personal safety. He describes the countenance of the murderer after the act was committed as resembling that of an incarnate demon. Slumach is insane, and what he had done seemed to have kindled all the wild disorderly fancies of madness in the maniac's brain and lit up his eyes with a ferocious gleam that boded no good to anyone whom he should encounter when his gun was reloaded. Slumach slowly retreated to the impenetrable and pathless jungle surrounding that part of Lillooet Slough and plunging into its gloomy recesses was lost to sight and is still at large.

The Murder of Louie Bee - 10 September, 1890 - Through the courtesy of L.F. Bonson, who placed his fine steam launch at the coroner's disposal, Captain Pittendrigh and his attendants were enabled to perform the journey yesterday from the city to the scene of the Indian murder at Pitt River in an expeditious and comfortable manner. Long before the fatal spot was reached, the Indians could be heard chanting a loud strange death song, or coronach, for the untimely death of their comrade Louis Bee. The party from the city, on arriving at the place where the murder occurred, found a number of Indians congregated together, and apparently suffering from fear to a considerable extent. Enquiry developed the fact that none of them dared to pursue the murderer through the bush, and their terror of him had been very much increased by the appearance of Slumach the day following the murder, and his appropriation of the murdered man's remains. He placed the body in a canoe and set out in the direction of the lake with it. It was suspected that Slumach's intention was to drop the body overboard in deep water, and Captain Pittendrigh, acting on the supposition, set the Indians to work dragging the river for the corpse. The latest new received states that the body was recovered, and was in the custody of friends in the neighbourhood of the spot where the tragic occurrence happened.

The Indian witnesses who came to the city with the first information of the crime, was taken to the city lock-up this morning for safekeeping, by order of William Moresby.

Captain Pittendrigh and jury returned from the Pitt River last night. This morning a new jury was summonsed to proceed to view the remains of Bee.

Coroner's Inquest - 11 September, 1890- A coroner's inquest was held yesterday in the committee rooms at the City Hall upon the body of Louis Bee, the half-breed who was murdered last Monday afternoon at Pitt River by an Indian named Slumach, and whose remains were brought to the city yesterday. Dr. Walker performed the post-mortem examination, and found the bone of the upper left arm to have been shattered by the passage of the ball, which had entered the side of the deceased, fractured the fifth rib, penetrating the right side of the heart, and torn the lungs. The bullet was found embedded in the right lung. Death, in the doctor's opinion must have been instantaneous. Charlie Seymour, an Indian, was the principal witness examined by the jury.

The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against the Indian Slumach. The body of the murdered man was coffined, and taken home by the Indians for internment in their own cemetery near the entrance to Pitt Lake. Mr. Moresby and two special officers left immediately this morning by steamer for the scene of the murder.

They were to be met by the Chief of the Indians with a selected posse of men, and the search for Slumach will be prosecuted unceasingly until he is captured.

Still at Large - 12 September 1890 - Slumach, the murderer of Louis Bee is still at large, and there is no immediate prospect of his capture, unless he is driven by starvation into the haunts of men. Mr. Moresby went up to Pitt Lake yesterday and continued the search for him, but with no success. Just before Mr. Moresby arrived, the Indians saw Slumach in his cabin, but he quickly plunged into the bush again, and was not visible during the remainder of the day. On examining the cabin Mr. Moresby found a can of powder and a large quantity of provisions which he destroyed, and then to prevent Slumach returning there for shelter, the shack was burned to the ground. His canoe was also destroyed.

Slumach will now have to keep to the woods until cold weather and starvation drives him in. Mr. Moresby left for Pitt Lake again this morning and may not return for several days. He is determined to bring him to justice, and will, if he can, obtain the assistance required.

The Indians are all afraid of the murderer, and decline to assist in beating the bush for him as he is well armed and has lots of ammunition. Slumach is a desperate character and is credited by the Indians with another murder committed years ago and under similar circumstances. Although a view of the murderer's friends say he is insane, dozens of Indians who know him, say otherwise, and declare he is only a bloodthirsty old villain.

Slumach the Murderer Still at Large - 16 September 1890 - Indians who know him well say he had committed four or five murders during the last 25 years.

His last murder, previous to the killing of Louis Bee, was committed about six years ago when he is said to have killed an Indian without any apparent cause. He fled to the mountains and remained in seclusion for a whole year, and then suddenly returned on day and took possession of his cabin and lived quietly until the perpetration of his last crime.

Slumach is looked upon by the Indians as a very wonderful person, being able to endure the greatest of hardships without any apparent inconvenience. As a hunter he is without equal, and he is adept at making fires in the primitive manner, using two sticks and rubbing the same together until the friction ignites the wood. He is said to be without fear of man or beast and to be possessed of a nature vicious in the extreme.

He was armed with his deadly rifle, and was too far away to permit of an exchange of bullets. Of the nearer approach of his pursuers he quietly retreated into the impregnable fastness among the stupendous precipices that frown upon the lake at that neighbourhood. He has not since been seen.

Slumach's Action - 19 September, 1890- The Indians say that Slumach has always acted strangely, and at irregular intervals would withdraw himself alone in the forests that border the locale and remain there for weeks, reappearing at the end of those periods of aberration looking haggard, and more like a savage beast than a human being. In spite of his lunacy however, the maniac never displayed any signs of hostility, nor gave indications that his freedom was dangerous to human life.

He is described as a very powerful man and is rather dreaded by his own Indian friends.

It is of the utmost importance that fishing and hunting parties going into this region should keep a most vigilant lookout as the murderer is still roaming the woods armed with a shotgun, and as far as can be learned, with plenty of ammunition.

The crown prosecutor asked the arraignment of Slumach for murder. Mr. T.C. Anderson, defending counsel, asked that the case be adjourned until next assizes, on the ground that there were two important witnesses for the defence, Moody, an Indian, and Florence Reed, who could not possibly be obtained in time for this assize, but could be produced at the next sitting of the court. The affidavits of Slumach and his daughter Mary were produced and read.

Mr. Moresby said he could produce both the witnesses required by the defence by 11 o'clock to-morrow and his Lordship therefore adjourned the court until that time.

Fall Assizes (Mr. Justice Tyrwhitt Drake presiding) - 15 November 1890 - The Slumach case occupied the attention of the court today. The evidence had to be nearly all interpreted.

There were several Indian witnesses examined at length and they gave minute particulars of the tragedy.

It came out in the evidence that Bee, the victim of the murder, was in the habit of blustering at, and threatening almost everyone with whom he came in contact. Against Slumach he indulged something like a grudge, and for some time there was bad blood between them. The Indians who were with Bee at the time of the murder were fishing, and on Slumach emerging from the adjacent woods, a slight altercation ensued between him and Bee, with the result that Slumach shot him dead.

The jury retired at 3:45, and after being out 15 minutes, returned with the verdict of guilty.

His Lordship sentenced Slumach to be hanged on January 16 next.

The Evidence of Charlie Seymour

"I remember the 8th day of September last. I went up in a canoe with Louie Bee from the place where we were living on Pitt River to look at our sturgeon lines. Louie was the only one with me in the canoe. We went up about two miles when we got to the lines. We found there was no bait on the hooks. We went up a little further and saw a canoe come near. We hailed it and it contained the Chief of the Katzie tribe. His wife was along with him. We had a conversation for a few minutes. He then left us going downstream. We went upstream immediately after parting. I heard the report of a gun on the opposite shore. That is the left-hand side going upstream. Louie Bee proposed to go across to where the shot was fired as he thought it might be whitemen there. When we go to the shore I saw the prisoner Slumach coming out of the long grass and I told Louie Bee he was coming. Then I caught a glimpse of a canoe hauled up partly on the shore. When Slumach got near Louie Bee asked him what he was firing at. He gave no answer but kept walking up towards our canoe until he reached the edge of the river. He was preparing his gun that is preparing it in position to shoot. Without any further word he presented his gun at Louie Bee the deceased and fired. Slumach then ran toward his canoe, took out his ammunition, and reloaded. After the shot was fired I saw blood coming out of Louie Bee's arm at the back of the shoulder. He gasped hold of the side of the canoe and after a few seconds fell overboard and sank in about two and a half feet of water. The canoe was afloat and about 15 or 16 feet from the shore. The water here is shallow for some distance out. I jumped on shore immediately after Louie Bee was shot as I was afraid of getting shot as well as Louie Bee who had given no provocation whatsoever and the prisoner was putting powder in his gun again. The gun was percussion single barrelled one.

I asked the prisoner as I jumped on shore why he had shot the deceased. He said he wanted to drive us away that he did not want any persons to go up there. I waited in the grass hidden for a short time to see what Slumach would do. He was holding his gun during the time I was hid which was about twenty minutes. I thought I might be shot so I down the shore and then walked over the railway bridge and up to my house. When I got near I hollered out to the women that Slumach had killed Louie Bee. The women came out and went with me to my house. I then started to come down here and arrived at the city at dark and reported the circumstances to the Indian Agent. I met no one on my way down. I told my wife what had happened and there was an old man in the camp in another compartment but he did not hear. I remained in the city all night and returned with the Coroner. When we arrived we could not find the body, as the tide was high. I commenced searching for the body and shortly after found it and a young man who was with me fired off his gun to attract attention. The body was in the deeper water owing to the rise in the tide. I recognised Louie Bee's axe in Slumach's house when Mr. Moresby searched it. We had a bottle in the canoe for killing sturgeon. These things were in the canoe when I jumped out. Louie Bee only said to Slumach 'What are you shooting at? Louie had no club in his hand. I was in the stern and Louie Bee in the bow. Louie being in the bow of the canoe was nearer to Slumach. He was sideways to him. I cannot say if the Coquitlam Chief had any whiskey or not in his canoe as we were some distance from each other. I had no whiskey that day. I was with Louie Bee all day and he had not had any whiskey either. There was none to be got. The prisoner Slumach now before the court is the man who shot Louie Bee. On recovering his body I brought it down to Westminster as directed by the Coroner. (To the accused Slumach) I did not hear Louie Bee call you any names.

I was in the canoe that brought the body of Louie Bee down to New Westminster. It was the same body that was taken by Mr. Moresby from the canoe and placed in an outhouse on Front Street and on which the post-mortem by the doctor was made. This took place on the 10th day of September, 1890."

The Evidence of Katzie Chief Swaneset

"I remember Monday the 8th day of September last past. I was coming down the Pitt River on that day. My wife was with me in the canoe. I met the deceased Louie Bee and Seymour. Louie Bee spoke to me saying 'Clahowya, Tihee.' I then answered 'Clahowya, Louie.' The canoes did not get together. They were some distance apart. After we had parted some distance downstream I heard the echo of a shot fired away in the mountain. I know the prisoner. I did not see him on that day. Louie Bee was sober when I spoke to him as also was Seymour."

The Evidence of R. Eden Walker, Medical Doctor

I saith I practice in British Columbia. I remember making a post mortem examination on the body of Louie Bee on the 10th day of September last. The body was in an outhouse on Front Street lying in shirt, waistcoat, and pants and covered with blankets. The clothes were wet as if the body had recently been in the water. On examining the body I found a wound on the outer side of the left shoulder. On following the wound down I found it passed through the upper part of the arm bone into the chest through the left lung through the upper part of the heart and through the right lung into the right plural cavity where I found part of the bullet which had caused the wound. Death was caused by the wound in the heart. There was no trace of the deceased having taken any alcohol beverage within several hours before death. The body was that of a well nourished man."

Paid the Penalty - 16 January 1891 - Slumach, the murderer of Louis Bee, pays the penalty of his crime. Old Slumach was hanged in the yard of the provincial gaol this morning at 8 o'clock, for the murder of Sept. 8th last, of Louis Bee, a half-breed.

The particulars of the murder are briefly as follows... Pierre, the Indian catechise - medicine man, slept in the same cell with Slumach, and prayed with him day and night, and it is satisfactory to know that the labour of the good priest and his assistant was not in vain.

The condemned man retired to rest at an early hour last night and slept well.

Slumach awakened early and immediately went into devotional exercises with his spiritual attendants, after which breakfast was brought in and he ate with apparent relish.

A few minutes before 7 o'clock Father Morgan baptised Slumach, who professed his belief in Christianity and the hope of salvation. Prayers continued until the arrival of the hangman to pinion him, and to this operation he submitted without a murmur. All being in readiness a few minutes before 8 o'clock, the procession was formed and proceeded to the scaffold. Mr. Sheriff Armstrong led the way, followed by Mr. Wm Moresby, governor of the jail and the deputy sheriff, next came Slumach, supported by gaolers Burr and Connor, and followed by the hangman, masked and hooded.

Father Morgan, Pierre, Dr. J.M. McLean, Dr. Walker, and a number of constables brought up the rear of the procession.

Slumach walked firmly up the steps leading to the platform, and faced the crowd below. The hangman quickly adjusted the noose, and Father Morgan commenced a prayer. Then the black cap was put on and at 8 o'clock exactly, the bolt was drawn, the trap fell, and Slumach had paid the penalty of his crime. The hanging was very ably managed, and beyond a few twitching of the hands and feet, the body remained perfectly still after the drop. In three minutes and fifty-eight seconds life was pronounced extinct, but it was more than twenty minutes before the body was cut down and placed in the coffin.

Coroner Pittendrigh and a jury viewed the body and brought in the usual verdict. Slumach's neck was broken in the fall, and death must have been painless. The drop was eight feet five inches. Over fifty persons witnessed the hanging, and a large crowd gathered outside the jail, and remained there until the black flag was hoisted. Among the crowd on the street were several Indian women, relatives of Slumach, who waited around the jail for more than an hour after the execution.


As I quickly devoured Don Waite's book, one of the first lessons I learned about researching a treasure story is that you must separate the truth from fiction. One should always try to find the real source of the information you are reading. Besides casting light on why the old Indian Slumach was really hung, Don's book also cast some light on a possible location of Slumach's gold. Don was able to make contact with one of the daughters of Peter Pierre named Amanda Charley. Peter Pierre was with Slumach in his cell before he was hung and it was there where Slumach revealed to him the location of his gold. Don was able to get an exclusive interview with Amanda Charnley and it's very enlightening. Not only does it talk about Slumach actually finding gold, but it also validates the existence of Jackson.

When March finally did roll around I could not wait to take my first trip to Pitt Lake. I hounded my Dad until he gave in. It was a cloudy weekend of the second week in March when we launched the boat at the Fort Langley Marina and began our journey into the Fraser River. It was a great feeling to be in the open air and cruising up the Fraser River. Little did I know at the time that I was at the beginning of a quest that would last me well into my adult life. It took us about two hours to reach the entrance to Pitt Lake. When we got there the feelings inside were amazing. I could feel the history of this great beautiful place coming alive and I started snapping pictures of everything that was around me.

My father noticed that there was a channel following towards the east side of the lake and for some strange reason decided not to follow it. Instead he of cutting up the center of the lake, he made a decision which was going to change his feelings about this beautiful place for him forever. As we cruised up the lake, the boat came to a very quick stop. We slammed into a sandbar that rested at the mouth of Pitt Lake and as soon as we hit it the old man lit right up in a blaze of profanity

"OH SHIT! GODDAMN SON OF A BITCH LAKE!" he yelled as he looked over the back of the boat at his bent prop. Rick and I sat there in silence not wanting to get in his way. "We're going to have to go to the marina," he said pointing to the small marina that could be seen at the mouth of the lake.

My dad managed to get the boat moving and off the sandbar, but the prop was making a hell of a noise. I was kind of upset by this point because it looked like my trip was at an end before it really began. As we docked the boat and my dad inspected the prop which had a wing ripped off by the crash, Rick and I walked out on towards the end of the wharf and past an old houseboat and stared off at the scenery.

"You see across the river there? That's where Slumach's cabin used to be," I said "and I even think he is buried over there."

"Are you boys up here looking for that dam lost gold mine?" a mysterious voice said behind us catching Rick and me off guard.

We turned around and were greeted by a friendly smiling old Indian man.

"Why don't you come inside my boat here and I will show you something," he said.

Rick and I followed him wanting to learn more about this stranger. When we got inside there were several topographic maps of the Pitt Lake area which the old Indian man started pointing at

. "I know you want to know about the gold," he said. "Everyone does, but I think all them prospectors were searching in the wrong place. I don't there is any gold up in the upper Pitt," he explained pointing at the map. "The only gold I have ever heard off coming out of the Pitt Lake country is over here up behind the head of Debeck Creek."

Rick and I stared at him in awe and for the first time in my life I really felt like I was living in a movie and in time I would find more information to support his theory that there is gold in the Debeck Creek area. I would launch an expedition into that area that changed my life forever. As we sat there staring at the map, I heard my father calling us off in the distance.

"We have to go," I said to the mysterious man.

"Okay," he said, "but remember Debeck Creek. What's your name son?"

"Daryl and this is Rick," I replied.

"Nice to meet you," and with that we left the old Indian man and the houseboat behind.

When we met up with my father I could tell by the look on his face that the news was bad. "I'm afraid we have to go back, the prop is shot to hell."

It wasn't so bad because after meeting the mysterious stranger I had learned something new and Pitt Lake was now growing even larger and deeper inside of me.


Copyright © 1996-2013 Spindle Publications

If you have enjoyed reading this chapter from the book please send me an email telling me what you think. I would like to hear from you even if you are not going to buy the

Pictures in chapter one courtesy of Donald E Waite

Chapter 2: The Quest Begins...