Wednesday, June 11, 2014

barkerville ~ special edition

I know...I know. It is not the end of the month...and yet there is something new at 'my front porch'.
We just returned from a fun little excursion to Barkerville...and as I perused my photos I decided this trip needed a post of its own.  For my records!

Barkerville is gold rush town in the foothills of the Cariboo mountains of British Columbia.  While most towns along the gold rush trail have long since disappeared...Barkerville is still thriving.  It is a National Historic Site of Canada and has kept some of the the same 'gold rush fever' and excitement that was there over a century ago.

We had always meant to visit Barkerville when our kids still traveled with us...but it is rather out-of-the-way and just never happened.  We finally decided to put it on our calendar and make plans to visit Barkerville.  We are glad we did!

We found some friends who were game to join us...traveled up the Fraser Canyon...through the historic town of Yale...through seven tunnels (with interesting names like China Bar, Saddlerock, Alexandria, Sailor Bar,and more)...past Hell's Gate and on through Cache Creek, William's Lake and Quesnel.  From Quesnel we drove fifty miles east to the end of the trail (highway 26)...watched for bear (saw three) and imagined all those who made this trek on foot so long ago on foot. 

We arrived in Barkerville late afternoon...and discarded our car outside the 'city' gates.  Of course there are no cars in Barkerville!  We were taken by stagecoach to the 'home' where we would be spending the night.

Staying at the King House Bed and Breakfast was all part of the experience.  A good part! It included feather beds, an evening of Mexican train, and a wonderful breakfast cooked up by our hosts (Dana pictured above).

Billy Barker himself was out on the street.  He arrived here in 1861...coming down the Williams Creek valley in search of gold.  His claim was the richest and the most famous (yielding 2,350 pounds). The entire town grew up around his claim and was was later named after him. 

Today the historic town appears as it did in its heyday...boasting 121 reconstructed and original buildings along with a large collection of artifacts and treasures from the gold rush days. Notice the fresh snow on the mountain beyond the town.  We were rather surprised to find snow on the ground between the buildings...and fresh snow on the surrounding hills.  We discarded the shorts and sandals on arrival...and opted for jeans, hikers and jackets!

We took a tour of Barkerville...with one of the colourful characters of the past. 

We were free to visit any of the buildings.  The schoolteacher was just returning to her post...and chatting with two young gals from Switzerland...Eva and Melanie.  They stayed at our B and B and we had fun getting to know them.  They had hitch-hiked to Barkerville and shared their travel tales with us. 

For those who tire of walking...

...they have a great public transit system in Barkerville!

I'm sure all the proprietors of the various businesses thought we were quite under-dressed.

We took a tour of one of Canada's oldest Chinatowns...where over 5,000 Chinese lived at the height of the gold rush. 

Wood-burning is frowned about in many parts of our country...but in Barkerville it is the main source of heat.  Beside every establishment was a tidy pile of wood.  We noted that the wood had the blue-grey circle around the logs...caused by the mountain pine beetle which infested the forests of British Columbia in recent years.

Two churches stood side by side...and we visited them both.  Since Judge Matthew Begbie's Richfield courthouse was still under snow...he was holding court in the Methodist church.  We learned a little about the early justice system of British Columbia as well as a bit about the infamous characters that made their home here.

The afternoon theatrical production was so well done...a musical glimpse into the life of the town during those days!  

We watched a waterwheel demonstration down at Williams Creek...a re-enactment of how gravel and gold is moved from below ground to a sluice box...where water from the creek separates the two.

Before I end my tour of Barkerville...let me just tell you about the restaurants in town.  We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at the Lung Duck Tong Chinese restaurant (the name in itself is a mouthful!).  The hot chocolate at the House Hotel Coffee Saloon warmed us up between tours...

...and we lunched at Wake Up Jake's. This establishment first opened in Barkerville in the early 1860s and operated into the 1870s. In 1960 a reproduction building was constructed on the original site as a Victorian-style restaurant.  Great name...don't you think?

We had a most enjoyable and educational (and cool) time in Barkerville.  Now let's see how long we can remember all those historical nuggets of our provincial past.

At the end of the day...we drove back to Quesnel for the night.  We walked the paths along the mighty Fraser River in the evening.  And then we walked across...

...on the historic footbridge which is the longest wood truss walking bridge in the world (253 metres/831 feet). Originally built in 1928 to replace the canoes which served as the ferry system of the day...the bridge was retained as a walking bridge after the construction of the Moffat Bridge in 1960.

Quesnel was (and still is) the commercial centre of the Cariboo.  The original Hudson's Bay Trading Post opened here in 1867 and is now operating as a gift shop. It is the oldest building in Quesnel...a designated historic site.

One more stop before we head for for home... Pinnacles Provincial Park...just a few miles outside the city limits.

It is best known for its hoodoos...intriguing ancient geological rock formations.  A short hike took us to the viewpoint...from where we could see the pinnacles below us as well as a picturesque view of Quesnel.

And with that I will end my tour of the Cariboo...highlighting Barkerville and Quesnel.  There is much to be seen and learned so close to home!


  1. What a great tour you've given us, Judy. I've wanted to visit Barkerville for some time - we'll just have to make time! I especially enjoyed the photos from the 'past'!

  2. What a well planned and interesting outing. You included such a nice variety of places to eat, sleep, and see. Thanks for sharing it: you inspire me.

  3. We always laugh about that...what good things there are to see close to home. People come from all over to visit one of the last Shaker Communities and it is only about ten minutes away, yet until very recently, we had never visited though we've lived here forever.

    What a wonderful living history community that is. I am so glad that you documented AND shared. I was very happy about the sharing part because a month is a long time with no news from My Front Porch. Those gals are doing well to keep their skirts out of the mud. I checked hemlines! LOL

  4. What a nice surprise! We visited Barkerville for a day trip when our girls were young. We continued on to Prince Rupert where my parents lived for a few years....otherwise we most likely would not have taken the trip. Your tour was delightful! Fun to do something like that with friends.

  5. Hi Judy. I enjoyed this post and am glad you wrote it up to share early in the month. What an interesting and historic town. I'd not heard of it when we were there but I guess it's off the beaten path from the usual tourist spots. Thanks for sharing! Pam

  6. When I was a child/teenager, we visited Barkerville several times and later took our children there, too. It's a place where history is preserved and comes alive. My parents lived in Quesnel for a few years and the old HBC store is one we frequented once or twice. What a great commentary of your trip and a memory-inciting post for me.

  7. As always, you are a most wonderful tour guide! I got excited at the idea of a stagecoach taking you to the B&B. Waking up to a very different time must have been fun but also made you appreciate some of the conveniences we have now.

  8. Wow just wow! This really did deserve a post of it's own and you did well. What a wonderful step back into history. Thanks so much for documenting it for us to see!!

  9. Oh, my GOODNESS!!! You guys take THE best vacations!!! What a wonderful experience this was....and I am just a READER of it!! Amber and I toured Old Sturbridge Village in Maine back in her synchro days. I will always remember it......
    Hope you have the best summer ever!!!

  10. What an interesting, historical place to visit! I like how Bakerville is now a "living museum" that allows an authentic look into the past lives of the people that lived there.

  11. Thank you for sharing this unique destination - my husband and I agreed if we ever got the opportunity to go there, we'd take it!

  12. Goodness, what a great place! I would love to experience it, hmm...maybe a bucket list item....

    Thanks for the early/great share!


  13. You two always find the most unique, fun, and educational destinations to visit, and I am most thankful that I too get to visit them, via you and your beautiful documentary of the visit. This was no exception. I felt like I stepped back in time this morning, as I read each line of your post. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Each picture was so interesting! What a refreshing break for the four of you, in the midst of busy life.

  14. Oh my goodness! I'd want to go twice, once with just Bernie and then a second time with grands. How marvelous that the town was not only reconstructed but for there to also be re-in actors there too. Wonder if they do anything special on Canada Day and around Christmas?

  15. It's been many years since I've been to Barkerville, but it sounds like your event took you back into the era of those years. Must of been fun to walk through these times with flashbacks of what we studied in school.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson