In 1858, over eight decades had passed since Captain James Cook claimed the shores of what would become British Columbia for the British crown, but European settlers had shown little interest in the new lands. The non-aboriginal population was only about 700. Then gold was discovered on the shores of the Fraser River and, overnight, the lonely outpost of empire was overrun by some 30,000 fevered gold-seekers. The raucous sourdough hordes were mostly American and treated the new territory as an extension of the United States. The fragile colonial administration in Victoria was overwhelmed and the territory's future as a British possession hung in the balance. But by the time the gold rush wound down a decade later, the colony of British Columbia had come into being and BC's destiny as a part of Canada was sealed. In The Trail of 1858, BC Almanac host Mark Forsythe and coauthor Greg Dickson augment their historical research with contributions from CBC listeners that give the gold rush story a personal, folksy feel. Making liberal use of historic photos, the authors celebrate memorable personalities from this epic time: the stern but sensible Judge Matthew Begbie; the peacemaking Chief Spintlum; Nam Sing, the first Chinese miner in the Cariboo; overlander Catherine Schubert; high-rolling miners Billy Barker and Cariboo Cameron; and a host of others. The Trail of 1858 is a combination of fact and memory of the colourful characters who helped form this province; it is a book from which history truly jumps.