As part of the Chinese Historical Wrongs Legacy Initiative, we’ve digitized a small selection of inquests and inquiries from 1872 to 1934, found in series GR-0431. These were chosen to reflect the experiences of early Chinese immigrants to B.C. – their living and working conditions, and their unfortunate accidental or unusual deaths. They range from a woman working in a brothel in Barkerville who died of natural causes to three sawmill workers who died from malnutrition. Learn more.
*All transcriptions are provided by volunteers, and the accuracy of the transcriptions is not guaranteed. Please be sure to verify the information by viewing the image record, or visiting the BC Archives in person.
*Please note that archival source materials are original historical documents that have not been censored, reviewed or otherwise altered by the Royal BC Museum. Some materials may contain content that is racist, sexist or otherwise offensive. The Royal BC Museum is only the custodian of archival materials; the content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Royal BC Museum.
Q: How far in did you go? A:Before we were through, we were in every place in that section. Q: I am taking about after the explosion. A: After the explosion we were in every place in that district. Q: Did you form any opinion as to the cause of the explosion? A: I believe there had been a great volume of gas given off suddenly, and that something had happened to cause the explosion either through a defective lamp, or somebody had struck a match, I am not prepared to say which. Q: Did you find anything which would lead you to infer what was the cause of the explosion? A: This is my opinion: that this safety lamp "A" which we found up at No. 6 stall, at the switch, if this glass was broken before the explosion, or had been cracked, it would very probably have caused it. That lamp itself could have caused the explosion; I would not say it did cause it, but there is a likelihood that it would cause it. It is possible that that glass might have been tilted to one side, and the heat of the light broke the glass. Q: There would be something to cause the flame? A: There would be the light inside to cause the flame. You light that lamp and tilt it to one side and leave it there the glass will break. Q: The about the other lamp "B"? A: This lamp Mr. Matthews and I found at No. 5 stall. Q: Could you find any other portion of it? A: No sir. Q: Then about the other lamp, "C"? A: This lamp belongs to the man we last found, that was on the 22nd. I have seen this lamp in town to-day. There is nothing the matter with the gauze, and I don't think it had anything to do with the explosion. Q: Was this lamp found where the cave in was? A: Yes. Q: When did you find these other lamps "A" and "B"? A: The first day we went in to clean up the cave, cleaning the track to get the cars in, and we got that lamp "A" just up where the man was found at No. 6. This lamp "B" we found in No. 5 stall about seven or eight yards from the face. I don't think this had the first thing to do with the explosion at all for this reason: had it been possible for that lamp to have caused the explosion it would have been more violent than it was because the other lamp would have been out by that time, and the explosion would have been more terrific than it was. Q: Did you see the chinaman that was taken from under the cave? A: Yes sir. Q: Was he burnt? A: That I couldn't say. He was so dirty and so black that I couldn't see whether he was burnt. Q: Was there any examination of the body? A: Not in my presence, any more than the undertaker went through his pockets. Q: What position was the body in? A: Lying back downwards and face in towards No. 7 stall. Q: If the cave occurred before the explosion, what position would you expect to find the body in? A: It is hard to say, but he would not be lying as flat as he was if the cave came on top of him before the explosion took place. Q: You mean to infer that the explosion occurred before the cave in? A: Yes.
BC Archives GR-0431 Box 6 File 3
BRITISH COLUMBIA. ATTORNEY GENERAL. Inquisitions/inquests conducted by coroners in British Columbia.