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.
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*Please note that archival source materials are original historical documents that have not been censored, reviewed or otherwise altered by the Royal BC Museum.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: Did you see the bodies of the Chimamen taken out? A: Yes. I found the body first. It was burnt all over the exposed, the fleshy parts. Q: That was the last one taken out? A: The last I think his name was Mah Lee. I examined him carefully while the undertaker was putting him in the box. Q: That would indicate the explosion occurred before the cave in? A: I don't think so. Q: Would the Chinaman be burnt if the cave in came first? A: It might that the explosion and the cave in was simultaneous. Q: Were you present when the lamp was found at ----? A: I found the last Chinaman's lamp "C"? Q: In examining that lamp is there anything which would indicate that that was the cause of the explpsion? A: I dismantled that lamp to-day, and tested it with my own breath, as it were; but I don't think that it is a sufficient test. I think if there was a high velocity of air and pressure you could have blown that lamp out. in other words there is a probability that that lamp would have cast flame. Had it been properly tested in the damaged and defective state in which we found it, you might have found that that lamp passed flame. Q: Do you mean to say that the lamp was defective? A: No, I am speaking of to-day; if a proper test had been made. Q: Was it locked? A: Yes. Q: Locked when you found it? A: Yes. Q: Did you find any explosive substance other than gas? A: Fuse principally. Q: No dynamite? A: I didn't see any dynamite. Q: Powder of any sort? A: No. Q: Other than the matches you found on this Chinaman's coat, did you find anything else? A: These were found when the Chiman's friend came down to get his watch. Q: Who was that Chinaman? A: I don't know. Some friend of the deceased, I think. By Mr. Pooley:- You say that you found this lamp B on the roadway of No. 6? A: Yes, sir. Q: What is your opinion - had that anything to do with the explosion? A: No, I don't think so, because the evidences of force were towards the lamp, not from it. Q: Was this a wet or a dry mine? A: A wet mine. Q: How was the ventilation of the mine? A: Perfectly adequate when I saw it tested by Mr. Morgan on the 16th. He then got 15000 cubic feet, being 4000 to 5000 cubic feet per man. By a Juror:- How do you account for that lamp B being in that condition? A: It has simply been opened, detached from the upper portion for the purpose of lighting cigarette probably. Q: How could it be detached if it had been locked? A: It had been tampered with and opened. Men frequently open these lamps. Q: Could any person open them? A: They can open them with an American clock key, nails and pieces of wood made for the purpose. Men often open them without any business for doing so. Q: They could hardly be safety lamps then? A: They are safe until they are tampered with. Q: Your opinion is that some Chinaman opened that lamp for the purpose of lighting a cigarette? A: Not this extra lamp because there were the usual number of lamps at the face for the workers there. This extra lap was lying there for how long I couldn't tell, but it had evidently been placed there for the purpose of making a light.
BC Archives GR-0431 Box 6 File 3
BRITISH COLUMBIA. ATTORNEY GENERAL. Inquisitions/inquests conducted by coroners in British Columbia.