A village with small old houses on green grass in Barkerville, BC. A village with small old houses on green grass in Barkerville, BC.

Barkerville Uncovered: A Guide to Learning & Exploring the Rich History of this BC Gem

British Columbia is among the most well-liked travel experiences in Canada. Thanks to its hills, forests, beaches, and woodlands, as well as its scenic cities, charming villages, and world-class snowboarding.

However, we have done all the research to get the inside scoop of the town of Barkerville, BC, for you. You will get comprehensive town details here, including culture, history, specialty, and more.

A screenshot from the cover page of the Barkerville town's official website.
Source: Official website of Barkerville.

1. Historic Description of Barkerville

As you know, British Columbia is a region in western Canada that shares borders with the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains.

It occupies 364,764 square miles, making it the fifth-largest provincial region in terms of land area in Canada. Cities in this lovely part of the Great White North are as varied as their landscape.

A few of these institutes might be found in breathtaking locations near the seashore or encircled by craggy mountains. Others will be found on the beaches of lakes, in warm central valleys, or on undulating hills.

All the most populated cities in British Columbia are connected by reliable highways or air links, making them all easily accessible.

1.1. Gold Rush- The Gold Discovery

In addition to being a center of excitement, Barkerville. BC features a true-to-life recreation of life during the Gold Rush.

A county was physically formed due to Billy Barker’s renowned gold discovery on Williams Creek, which set off a multibillion-dollar industrial economy. Barkerville, a remarkable historic village, is a living reminder of BC’s illustrious past today.

This distinctive cityscape has a lot to discover, with more than 125 vintage properties, historical displays, cafes, satellite museums, and stores.

One of the nicest places to visit in British Columbia, today’s tourists will find a refurbished gold-mining village with many antique structures.

An aerial view of the Barkerville town with a small residential house, some equipment and people with vintage dresses.
Source: Pixabay.

1.2. Living the History of Barkerville

If you want a fully hands-on experience, it is advisable to access a printing works or blacksmith, a conventional souvenir shop, a butcher shop, or the Barkerville hotels in the summertime and feel entirely whisked back to the days of the gold rush thanks to professional experts costumed in medieval garb who perform “living history.”

Tourists can enjoy fresh, iced hot cocoa in the wintertime and participate in cold and snow climate pastimes like skating and sledding. Have a look at places to stay in Barkerville before visiting.

1.3. Culture and Heritage of Barkerville Town

Barkerville, BC, acquired a small block of land in the Cariboo Mountains‘ lowlands in 1862.

It is still present 150 years later in every person who has visited and joined the ongoing narrative of this lively, small village. The background of Barkerville’s extraordinary Historic Town is fascinating.

A screenshot of the cover page that says " Explore Cariboo" from the Cariboo official website,
Source: Cariboo official website.

When word got out that gold had been discovered in the Fraser River’s riverbed sands in 1858, hordes of miners started sifting for the metal everywhere along the river basin.

Billy Barker made his infamous discovery here at Williams Creek in the summertime of 1862, and a classic gold-digging hamlet of basic wooden shacks, shelters, hatchbacks, and stores sprung up almost instantaneously.

Barkerville, BC, was the “biggest hamlet in the western area of Chicago and the northern area of San Francisco” till it was destroyed in 1868. Even though the city was rapidly rebuilt, it was already clear that the gold rush was ending.

The development of technology reduced the demand for men. Barkerville survived the aftermath of the gold rush but is now populated by immigrants and loggers.

1.4. Canadian National Historic Site

Barkerville, BC, was designated a Provincial Heritage Site in 1958 and Canada’s National Historic Site in 1924. It is presently regarded as Western North America’s biggest authentic historical destination.

Visitors here get to explore more than 130 historic structures, real exhibits, auxiliary museums, taverns, boutiques, and lodging.

1.5. How Did the Transportation work?

People used to transport their commodities to Barkerville on either their flanks or in a rucksack wagon well before the Cariboo Wagon Route was built. After BC’s golden beginnings, even necessities had exorbitant pricing because resources were in short supply.

Barkerville’s high product pricing decreased when the Cariboo Road was completed, and enormous freight carriages could deliver items. A collection of champagne flutes could soon be packed and transported without breaking, according to freight movers—for a fee. Following the development of the Cariboo Highway, more women migrated to Barkerville, BC.

The village had only temporary cottages and shelters initially. But by the middle of the 1860s, Barkerville was home to some 5,000 people, among whom 3,000 were Chinese. Barkerville, BC, was developing into a more substantial settlement, even though most residents were nomadic and heavily reliant on mining.

2. What Is Special about Barkerville, BC?

Have you ever traveled to a new location and experienced awe? It usually occurs at Barkerville for a lot of tourists. Even though Barkerville is less well-known than other Canadian cities, don’t be deceived. A tiny, emerging tourist site that is gorgeous and worth seeing is Barkerville.

You might be shocked by a few of the fantastic activities and locations you can discover in this undiscovered location.

Since it was the apex of the Cariboo gold mines, which served as a turning point for British Columbia’s economy and development, and because it served as the end of the great wagon route from Yale, which was finished in 1865, Barkerville, BC was named a nationwide heritage landmark of Canada.

A screenshot from the page of the Cariboo Gold Mine project owned by Osisiko Development.
Source: Official website of Osisko Development.

You should return one day to take a little break and unwind at Barkerville. The remarkable Barkerville, BC community continues to endure as a testimony to BC’s illustrious past. There is indeed a lot to discover in this unique cityscape.

Today, Barkerville is the largest contemporary historical site in the western region of Canada, and it offers everyday activities and spectacular holiday events.

3. What Is Famous in Barkerville Historic Town?

3.1. Explore the Barkerville Historic Town & Park

The Secwépemc (Shuswap) and Dakelh (Carrier) Peoples share ancestral domains with Barkerville Historic Town & Park, a Province of British Columbia Heritage Property & Park, and an Administration of Canada National Historical Park.

Barkerville Heritage Trust,” a not-for-profit registered charity run by a pro bono Board of Directors, manages the estate.

The story of Billy Barker of Barkerville Historic Town & Park

The province was formed due to Billy Barker’s renowned gold discovery, which Williams Creek triggered and set off multibillion-dollar industrialization. Barkerville, a remarkable historic village, is a living reminder of BC’s illustrious past today.  The National History Collection at Barkerville has more than 200,000 artifacts.

Approximately 60,000 people visit Barkerville each year as a National Monument of the Canadian government. The literalist interpretations and entertaining activities spread across the borough will amuse and educate visitors to the ancient city and park.

Barkerville, BC, hosts regular education programs and special events and provides continuing historical interpretation through tales and lectures.

Vacations and cultural activities are open to visitors at Barkerville, which also serves as a venue for marriages, conferences, getaways, and family gatherings. In addition to surrounding campgrounds and private cabins, the historical city website provides on-site lodging options.

3.2. Experience the Majestic Theatre Royal

The Barkerville Theatre Royal is named after the renowned amphitheater in London’s Drury Lane. The Cariboo goldfields are the subject of everyday plays at this stage, established in 1868 as amusement for the mine workers.

The detour off the freeway to pass via Wells and then arrive in Barkerville, sometimes known as “British Columbia’s Gold Rush Town,” is worthwhile.

A group pass costs $31, but it is well-valued because you can enjoy it from brunch to dinner. There is plenty to do, and you should arrange to stay for at least a few days to see as much as possible.

Even though Barkerville had first been designated a provincial historical site more than fifty years ago, a dedicated group of actors, vocalists, performers, and music artists has gathered in the historic city to reconstruct the fun and imagination of the classic

Theatre Royal has period displays of historical sites, which were developed in 1868 to offer much-needed reprieve to centuries of Cariboo mine workers, businesspersons, and family members throughout the late 1900s and early 2000s.

3.3. Satisfy Your Cravings at Wake Up Jake Restaurant

Indeed, you will be hungry after a day full of excursions and wandering around the ancient town and vibrant streets. After a hectic day, The Wake Up Jake is necessary to fill an empty stomach.

An old vintage looking house like building of the Wake-Up-Jake restaurant in Bakerville, BC.
Source: Unsplash

Hot food with good quantity, quality, and helpful service, what else could you want now?

Good luck finding a seat when crowded because they are usually full, busy, or even both. If you don’t see a seat, head to the Lung Duck Tong restaurant to fulfill your cravings.

3.4. Wander Through the Gold Rush Trail

The Gold Rush Trail follows the ancient Indigenous peoples’ shipping lanes used in the era when the fur trade was popular and developed during the gold rushes of the years from 1858 to 1862, starting at the Fraser River’s estuary in New Westminster and winding its way across the country to Barkerville National heritage Town & Park.

The heritage of British Columbia, which dates back thousands of years into antiquity, is told through the Gold Rush Trail. It tells the tale of a great river and the landscapes that encircle it, including the canyons carved out and the fertile plains. On the walk, there were other treasures besides gold.

A screenshot of a page 'Journey' on the Gold Rush trail website.
Source: Official website of Gold Rush Trail.

All along the route, the extensive past of civilization, various cultures, dialects, and customs that existed before us gradually spring to fruition. All are drawn here by the grandeur of nature.  

The Gold Rush Trail of today is an interactive route that takes visitors on a trip through history, culture, sports, and locations.

Visitors come looking for the treasures of this area, just as countless explorers did for the years that went by. Walking this historic route, you will get the opportunity to detach, get far away from the busy city lanes, and connect properly with antiquity, Indigenous culture, and wildlife. This trail tells a history that has been influenced by nature.

3.5. Meander in Cariboo River Provincial Park

Cariboo River Provincial Park, which is close to the city center of Likely and alongside the Cariboo River, offers a pleasant escape from the town. From where Kimball Lake originates to where the creek meets Cariboo Lake, this longitudinal park covers many upstream Cariboo River and nearby marshes.

For biodiversity, notably moose and ducks, it is an essential ecosystem. Camping in the woods is allowed, but there are no amenities available. The area has exclusive cottages that are off-limits to the general public. Tourists must bring their consumables because the groundwater in the park cannot be drunk.

There is also an informational station at the 3100 Road junction of the Cariboo River. Tourists should be prepared and self-sufficient since Cariboo River Nature Reserve is an unspoiled mountainous region without any inconveniences.  This park’s cascades, old-growth trees, and bays are reachable by kayak or motor boat.

Whitewater rafting, kayaking, and motor boating are all options for water-based activity in the region. This park is an untamed location that is not frequently maintained or guarded, so ensure you follow all the safety measures, especially if visiting with family and kids.

3.6. The Cariboo Gold Rush

The Cariboo Gold Rush was a gold rush for the Great White North between 1860 and 1863 in the remote, far-flung Cariboo Highlands of British Columbia. Gold was first found on the Horsefly River by explorers whom the gold rush of the Fraser River had attracted.

The ancient fur-trading settlements of Carrier and Chilcotin also saw a significant influx of gold-seekers once word of the rich deposit discovered near the core at Barkerville circulated.

Lightning, Williams, and Lowhee Bodies of Water held the most promise for finding free gold, but the former turned out to be the wealthiest; as a result, this ended up becoming the county’s mining operations hub.

Camerontown, Richfield, and Barkerville, a trio of supplies, trade, and regulatory villages, were created here, away from 125 km towards the southeastern area of Prince George, in a valley with a tiny, steep-sided, remote stream bed.

The only of the three sites to survive the mining industry boom was Barkerville, which the Cariboo Trail services. Between 1864 through the 1930s, the rich reserves of Barkerville were mined.

This necessitated the formation of a more stable mining settlement and the employment of advanced and expensive machinery, such as hydraulic controls, that guided water jets to sweep the gold-bearing slopes into sluice basins. The Cariboo produced about $50 million worth of placer gold, pretty magnificent, we must say.

3.7. Cariboo Mountains

Cariboo Mountains - BC

The northern portion of the Columbia Highlands is formed by the Cariboo Range of mountains in the eastern region of British Columbia, Canada. The Fraser River’s large curve and its offshoot, the North Thompson, encompass the territory of the Cariboo Peaks.

The Rocky Mountain Trough, which divides mountains from the Canadian Rockies, runs parallel to the peaks’ 305 km length. The hills progressively descend westward and northward from Mt. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, their highest point, until they merge with the Inner Plain near Prince George. They are richly mined, and gold is extracted close to Barkerville, the epicenter of the 1860s discovery of gold.

The western hills are home to Bowron Lake and Wells Gray Provincial Parks, where mining is conducted alongside some forestry and grazing. A natural wilderness, the Cariboo Rockies Regional Park is characterized by lofty, jagged summits and peaks and heavily forested basins with picturesque lakes and verdant marshes.

These parks combine to form a 93381-hectare-sized security zone in the Cariboo Mountains.

The park’s diversified topography includes historic red-cedar and spruce woodlands, huge wetland basins, expansive grasslands, and tarn bodies of water in overhanging alpine gorges. These diverse settings support an extensive variety range of wildlife species.

Despite the park’s lower power utilization levels, the Cariboo Mountains have numerous, albeit unexplored, chances for wilderness activities. Backpacking with vehicle access is possible at the Ghost Lake Recreational Center. This tiny, out-of-the-way location is close to the lovely Matthew River Falls and offers spectacular views of the distant rock formations.

Final Note

Many cities have backgrounds that begin with gold rushes, lumber giants built others, and some just emerged due to beach bums buying property. Barkerville, established in 1862, is a fascinating town with a colorful past of gold.

This town gives the royal and heart-warming vibes as soon as you enter. Barkerville has many things to offer other than the history of the Gold Rush.

The village has vintage houses and restaurants, beautiful mountains, trails, seashore, and wildlife around water bodies. Your trip to BC must include a stop in historic Barkerville, BC, which offers a variety of excursions, old-time performances, and street leisure.

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