People who always dreamt of laying a land claim in hopes of digging up some gold will be able to get some tips from Abe Bourdon when he comes into town on April 14.
“When I was young, the oldtimers who did all this stuff were still alive. Now, most of them are dead. The history they had wasn’t written down, it was vocal. So you talk to the oldtimers, you listen to them, you take notes because the experience is worth money,” said Bourdon, who has written 15 books on prospecting and rock hounding (the amateur collection of rocks and minerals) including five in the Cariboo.
Bourdon got his start in the mining and prospecting world in 1964, when a father’s friend was granted a Keene Engineering, Inc. franchise in Red Rock, a small community 40 kilometres south of Prince George. Bourdon worked the dredges before moving to a mine in Coquihalla a year later.
At the time, the Fraser River still had a lot of prospecting opportunities and Bourdon eventually became a staking agent, helping people claim a certain area if they couldn’t be there themselves in a time when a prospector had to actually physically be there to stake a claim and put up the post and lay out the lines.
“I kept running into people that didn’t know where to go or what to do,” said the author on why he decided to write the books.
The first one is focused on Clinton, where he now lives.
Bourdon got the idea when he stopped for a cup of coffee on his way south at his sister’s, who drew up plans for homes. She was with a client and the client wondered what he could do to keep tourists in Clinton longer.
So the former stake agent piped up and mentioned the various types of rocks ranging from granite to opal in Clinton could draw in rock hounders and prospectors.
It gave Bourdon the idea to start writing books on the subject, detailing locations and the history of the activities in the area and some how-to tips. The books were printed by his father-in-law who suggested the budding author look into doing a book on the Northwest Coast. Then someone asked about Prince George and people kept on asking about other locations.
“I got talking with different tourism stops and they were saying ‘we get people asking where we can go pan that’s open,’ so I did some research and found a whole number of areas set aside by councils or our provincial government that you couldn’t stake a claim on but they were in gold producing areas,” said Bourdon about why he decided to do the books on the Cariboo series. “I think they’re a good deal for the B.C. tourism industry and it’s good exercise.”
Panning Along the Cariboo Trail is the first book in the series and has locations from Lillooet to McLeod Lake where readers can pan without interfering with someone else’s claim to avoid any hard feelings.
Bourdon says people can get a little territorial over their claim and can try to keep people off their claim if they catch them, however, they don’t actually have the right to do that. Bourdon advised avoiding causing any trouble though.
Two more books are in the works but will not be about rock hounding and prospecting, instead, they will focus on provincial politics. Bourdon, now in his 70s, said it is unlikely he’ll write more books afterwards.
“These things are operated as they go because I print them myself and I put them together and I bind them,” he said. In total, he has bound and sold over 5,000 copies of his books.
The signing at Nuthatch Books is on April 14 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.