In May 1862, groups of men from Canada West, Canada East, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia arrived by paddle steamer in Fort Gary. They planned to travel west overlan, following news of the Cariboo Gold Rush in British Columbia. In Fort Garry, they organized into a single party of approximately 150 people, led by Thomas McMicking. The Schuberts decided to join the party and seek their fortune out west.
Augustus Schubert was determined to join the party and travel to Cariboo to seek his fortune. Moreover, “Mrs. Schubert was equally determined that he should not go alone, but the entire family should share the perils of the journey, the outcome being that the rule that no women be included in the expedition was suspended for her benefit.” Catherine did not reveal that she was expecting her fourth child, assuming that the party would arrive at their destination before the baby arrived.
OVERLAND TO BRITISH COLUMBIA
Catherine Schubert travelled west on horseback with Gus and Mary Jane in saddle baskets on either side while Augustus carried Jimmy. The Overlander experienced poor weather, mosquitos and a flooded Saskatchewan River. Laterin life, Gus recalled the “never-ending squeaks and groans of the Red River carts” carrying their belongings as the family travelled 1600km west across the prairies to Fort Edmonton. There, the Overlander traded for more horses and food and hired a Metis guide, Andre Cardinal, for the journey through Yellowhead Pass in the Rocky Mountains to Tete Jaune Cache on the Fraser River. The mountain trails were narrow, and the horses fell to their death. The Schuberts forded icy rivers and crawled along narrow mountain passes with their children strapped to their backs.
According to fellow Overlander Alexander Fortune, “Great sympathy was manifested for the brave and devoted mother of those three children. Her presence in the company helped cultivate a kindly and more manly treatment of man to man” The presence of Catherine and her children also reassured First Nations communities along the journey that the Overlander were not a war party and that they travelled with peaceful intentions.
On October 14, 1862, Catherine went into labour just outside of Fort Kamloops. Women from the Shuswap First Nation assisted at birth. According to the diary of Overlander Mr.DeWitt, “The poor wome=an was her confined and presented her husband with a fine little girl, much to the surprise of many the party.” The Schuberts considered naming the newborn daughter Kamloops but instead chose the name Rose because of the wild rosehips that kept them from starvation during the last weeks of the journey.
The captain of the expedition, Thomas McMicking, praised Catherine in his journal, writing, “In performing this journey, Mrs Schubert has accomplished a task to which few women are equal; and with the additional car of three small children, one which but few men would have the courage to undertake.”
Augustus spent the summers prospecting for gold in Quesnel, with little success. Catherina also taught local children in her home and practised midwifery. In 1881, Augustus ended his search for gold and the family purchased a farm in the Okanagan Valley. The Schuberts built a school on their property and convinced the British Columbia government send a teacher to the Okanagan Valley in 1885. After Augustus died of a fall from a ladder in 1908, Catherine sold the farm and moved to Armstrong, British Columbia. She died in 1918.
A memorial unveiled on 1 July 1926 in Armstrong is inscribed with the words, “In honour of Catherine Schubert who in company with her husband and threee small children was a member of the hazardous overland expedition of 1862 across the Canadian Rockies from Fort Gary to Kamloops. A Brave and Notable Pioneer” A 2003 statue in Kamloops depicts Augustus and Catherine Schubert with one of their children. Schubert Drive in Kamloops, Schubert Road in Armstrong and Schubert Centre in Vernon are all named for the family