Barkerville is a restored gold rush town in the Cariboo district of central British Columbia. The National Historic Park has 129 buildings or points of interest to see. There are stores, restaurants and Bed and Breakfast houses, as well as a working blacksmith shop and costumed actors portraying local business owners or residents. The very first Dominion Day celebration was held in Barkerville in 1868 to celebrate the first anniversary of Canada’s Confederation – three years before BC joined in 1871.Barkerville was named after one of the miners, Billy Barker, who struck paydirt 52 feet down into the soggy gravel beside Williams Creek, and established the greatest creek-side gold nugget deposit the world has ever seen. He helped spearhead a twenty-year, multi-billion dollar industrial revolution that literally built a province. “Today (according to the brochure), the extrordinary historic town of Barkerville is an authentic, world-class heritage experience that provides travellers from across the globe with a unique opportunity to revisit the Cariboo gold rush. Barkerville is now the largest living history museum in western North America.” It took just over an hour to get to Barkerville after we left our hotel in Quesnel at 10:30 and we left the park about 3. We walked up the main street, crossing back and forth between buildings and then walked back down the ‘back’s street. Throughout the day there are a whole range of shows or activities you can participate in or watch – from prayer meetings at the church, to stagecoach rides, and a Variety Show in the Theatre Royal. There are portrayals of “The Cariboo Goldfields Ltd. Annual General Meeting”, lessons in the schoolhouse, the Pickwick Club’s weekly meeting (an 1869 secret society), Chinese School lessons, walking tours, and on and on.
The Government Agent’s Office. I first came to Barkerville with my aunt and uncle in the summer of 1968 or 69. I babysat my younger cousins quite often while their parents went to the Old Time Dances and they asked if I would come with them to Barkerville to help entertain the kids who were still very young. I have a photo at home of me and Allan and Jane and Aunt Edna sitting on the wood sidewalk in front of the Assay Office so I decided to get a 50-years-later version.This is where all the gold was weighed, melted and made into ingots for shipment to Vancouver.
Here is where it all began.Every gold rush town also had it’s China town section. Many men from China would come to the gold fields to find gold or work in a mine in order to send money home to their family.This young Chinese lady was telling us that during Barkerville’s heyday the hillside behind the buildings was all terraced for a huge vegetable garden to supply food for the Chinese as well as the mining populous. When we had walked to the end of China town we crossed over to the next street which was primarily barns, stables, derelict mining equipment and private buildings, and walked all the way back to the church at the entrance. These big dark clouds kept the temperature on the cool side, but no rain developed during our day.
We left the park at 3 for the return drive to Quesnel. There are quite a few geocaches hidden near the highway all the way back down so we found 15 of them and arrived back at the hotel at 6:30.
Tomorrow we drive to 100 Mile House. The highway is currently closed near 70 Mile House due to a mud slide. We will see if it is cleared for traffic by the day after tomorrow. Otherwise we will be doing a detour route to get home.
Unless something truly inspiring happens in the next two days that will produce something of interest for a blog this is the last one for our “North of 60” road trip. We have driven, so far, 14,000 km (8,700 miles), been away from home for 47 days with two more to go, and stayed in 30 different hotels. I have written and posted 49 blogs, read nine books and almost completed an issue of Variety Word Puzzles. We have seen some incredible scenery and some special wildlife, met lots of friendly people from several different parts of the world and enjoyed every minute of our journey.