Miners were allowed to stake one claim per mining district although they could buy or lease others. The first person to stake a creek got a double claim called Discovery. The rest of the creek’s claims were numbered upstream (Above) and downstream (Below) from Discovery.
Early prospectors marked the four boundaries of their claim and measured the claim’s length by pacing along the curving course of a creek through the trees and brush. Dominion Land Surveyor William Ogilvie estimated that only 25 percent of claims were legally correct.
Mining regulations were complex and they changed 20 times between December 1894 and July 1905. Five of those changes were between May and August of 1897, a period when most of the richest claims were first staked.
Ogilvie surveyed the claims on Bonanza and Eldorado in 1897. He found that one miner "had so meandered that his lower stake was actually twelve feet farther up the valley than his upper one.” He had staked twelve feet less than nothing. In the course of straightening out the claim borders, Ogilvie created “fractions”, or undersized claims, when miners staked more ground than they were entitled to.
Staking Rush, 1902
Placer claims are staked by planting two posts along a creek or gulch. In 1897, the claim width and direction of the end boundaries was not marked on the post and became a frequent cause of dispute.
The territory’s first Gold Commissioner, Thomas Fawcett, spent a full week on Bonanza and Eldorado creeks in August 1897, trying to settle disputes between the holders of creek claims (which extended to the base of the hills) and those who had located bench claims (which began at the base of the hills). Most of the disputes were settled in favour of the creek claimants.
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