It was a few years after the California gold rush was starting to wind down and prospectors started to move. They headed further north in Oregon and Washington and then eventually some of them ended up on Vancouver Island. It was there in 1864 that gold was found in the Leech and Sooke rivers. It wasn't long before the rush was on and another boom town was built. The town became known as Leechtown nd by late 1864 there were over 5,000 miners living and working claims in the Leech river.
Many of the veterans of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush six years earlier, travelled from Victoria overland by trail or by steamer to Sooke. By August 14 of that same year, 227 mining licences had been issued there were about 5-6 general stores, 3 hotels and over 1,500 miners at work in the area. There was also a good 30 saloons and even a few brothels. The rush was very short lived and by the middle of 1865 the following year the gold started to run out. Many miners packed it in and headed out. Some of these miers just went a bit north up the island and found gold in the Oyster River just outside of what is Campbell River today. There are stories that say that the Victorians of the day wanted these so called miners and prospectors tossed off the island so the summoned the Royal house in England to have these miners expelled. (Canada was a British colony at the time) It was right about that time though that news of a big strike in the Klondike had happened so most of these miners were quite eager to leave.
Leechtown is notable for its geologic placement, which is what gives rise to the historical gold finds. The "Leech River Complex" is a well-known assemblage of highly deformed schists underlain by gneiss. The gold is thought to be derived from quartz stringers concentrated in the schists.
There are legends that a tunnel exists in Leechtown that has been chiseled out of the rock, with multiple galleries. The Colonist newspaper planned to fund an expedition in search of the lost tunnel in 1959, but the only person with knowledge of its location, Ed Mullard, died before the search could take place. The Mullard Tunnel is located in Jordan Meadows, approximately 10 km (6 mi) away and there have been several stories of the discovery of the tunnel. Mullard was in the Jordan Meadows area prospecting and went deer hunting one afternoon and stumbled upon the tunnel entrance. A logger supposedly discovered the tunnel in 1928 and ended up in Las Vegas with some of the gold. There was supposedly a gold bar from the tunnel on display at the Mineral Titles office in Victoria, BC until the early 1980s but no one knows the location of the gold bar now.
There are lots of stories about tunnels and treasures stashed around Leechtown. One of the better stories is that of $40,000 worth of gold nuggets in a knee-high leather boot with a cook pot over the top and is buried about 18 inches underground somewhere. Today that boot of nuggets is worth well over 3 million dollars.
Another Leechtown story is about a Swede named Hans Christen. He was a prospector that came into the Leechtown area. One day he decided to do some surveying of the area and also some prospecting. After prospecting all day he set up and camp. That night a vicious storm blew in and scared his mule so much that it broke it's rope and fled off into the dark. The next morning Hans set out to find his mule and found the spooked animal in the entrance of a cave. Hans then went into this cave and found a vein of gold 2 feet wide going all the way back into the cave. He was so excited about his find that he realized it was getting late and so he headed back to his camp. On his way back he slipped and fell and hit his head and ended up unconcious. When he regained conciouness he set out to find the cave again but could not find it. Hans searched for this cave until his death.