Barkerville and The Cariboo Gold Rush

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
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Trip End Aug 25, 2011


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Where I stayed
Canyon Creek Campground

Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, July 11, 2011

Today we drove to Barkerville, one of the only remaining communities at the centre of the Cariboo Gold Rush - and the pride and joy of Northern British Columbia.  Over the past number of years the buildings of this town have been restored and used to tell the story of the early arrivals in this area.  Many people were looking for quick riches either in the gold fields or in serving those working the claims.  Unfortunately for us a rainy Monday is a slow day at the site so only some of the interpretation program seemed to in action.  However, the walking tours of the town, 'performed' by actors from the theatre, was super.  They told the story of life in the town during it's heyday with humour and zest. One of the most facinating exhibits in Barkerville was about the geology of the area and why gold has been found in such quantities.

We wandered through the buildings, shops and exhibits all afternoon and by 4 o'clock we were more than ready for a sit-down so decided to catch the last performance in the theatre.  This was an excellent dramatic interpretation of women in the early settlement, partly based on an account of actual people described in a newspaper article of the day. The playwrite was one of the actors and was able to talk about the research and artistic license used in the storyline.

The drive to Barkerville from Hixon was longer than we anticipated so that we did our tour of Wells 'after hours' - everything was closed.  What an interesting town.  I suspect that many of the homes are now summer retreats and that artists are attracted to this community so close to Barkerville for the potential of tourist traffic through their studios.  This is a 'living' mining town with active mines nearby.  The buildings in Wells have been painted in a rainbow of color and many of the buildings have plaques telling their history.  The office of one of the mines now houses the local museum.
 
These communities are high in the Cariboo Range of mountains and are remote from any larger centre even today.  Quesnel, on the Fraser River shares in the Gold Rush history of the area as it was a jumping off point for the trek across the mountains to the gold strike.  We decided to make a quick visit tonight in order to see the river near the crest of the flood.  According to the interative signage, it was still considerably lower than a flood about 20 years ago but was over its banks in some places.  One street and the walking path along the Quesnel River was under water but not a lot of damage seems to be occuring in this town. Quesnel has a wonderful park where the two rivers come together and it seems to be well used by local residents. This is a beautiful community with flowers everywhere. I wonder how it fares in the 'Communities in Bloom' competitions.

On our trip back from Barkerville, a large moose crossed the road in front of us and the stood and watched us as we passed.  The wild flowers in the area are certainly in bloom right now with a lot of red (Indian Paint Brush and something else), white (daisies) and blue (Lupins) in evidence at the moment. What beautiful country!
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