Jean Caux, Cataline. Famed mule-train packer of British Columbia. Image A-02038 courtesy of Royal BC Museum, BC Archives
From his early days in British Columbia during the Fraser Gold Rush of 1858, to his more than 50 years as a packer, to his final days in Hazelton, Cataline was a memorable figure.
Jean-Jacques Caux—Cataline—was born in about 1835 in Bearn, Southern France. He came to British Columbia to work in the gold rush but soon found that transporting goods for the miners was more lucrative that being a miner himself. Because of his occupation as a mule train packer, he was constantly on the move throughout the province.
Through his eyes we see events such as Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858, the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1862, Canada’s Confederation in 1867, BC joining Canada in 1871, the coming of the railway to Ashcroft in 1886 and the Grand Trunk Pacific to Hazelton in 1912.
Not only did he witness and participate in many of the historical events that shaped our province, he was a unique and memorable character in his own right. He knew such personalities as Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie, the famed anthropologist James Teit, and well-known basketmaker Amelia Paul (later York), the daughter of Chief Kowpelst (Telxkn) of the Nlaka’pamux people of Spuzzum with whom he had two children.
Cataline’s way of life that has gone for ever. But the legend and life of the man has been remembered in the words of his friends, his family and those who chronicled his times. British Columbia will not see another like him.
I am thrilled that my co-author of this book is Irene Bjerky.
Irene Bjerky, C’eyxkn, has been interested in Jean Caux (Cataline) for a long time, while researching her genealogical connection to him. Irene is a member of the Yale First Nation and her great-great-grandmother was Amelia York, C’eyxkn, a well-known basketmaker and mother to two of Cataline’s children. Irene is a boilermaker, a former commercial fisher, and is interested in her family’s and community’s history. She makes her home in Yale, British Columbia.
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