issue 1 / volume 21 / summer 2022
friends of barkerville newsletter from the editor brendan bailey
We, the “Friends,” would like to thank all of you Members for your support. We would also like to acknowledge the support of all of the former Directors, Members, Volunteers, and Supporters who have been with us at various points along this 36-year journey.
who are we?
We are the Friends of Barkerville – Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society, a Charitable Non-Profit organization comprised of dedicated volunteers. Our focus is to enhance Preservation, Protection, and Promotion as it applies to Barkerville Historic Town & Park and the Historic Cariboo Goldfields area.
Hildur Sinclair (president), Grant Johannensen (vice president), Tony McDonald (treasurer), Cameron Graham (secretary). Other Directors: Richard Wright, Robin Grady, Kwynn Bodman, Emily Lindstrom, and Brendan Bailey.
Monthly meetings are held at Troll Resort. We try to hold two of the meetings about June and September in the town of Barkerville in the new school building. Members and/or the public can attend these meetings if they like, but, they cannot vote unless it is during the AGM. Members are welcome to express their input, suggestions, and ideas.
Credit and Copyright to the contributors unless otherwise noted. Minor editorial supervision by Brendan Bailey and layout by Connor Kenney. All persons with submission of articles and photos are given full credit. Please feel free to send in your items of interest for upcoming newsletters.
Society director positions are a one-year term from the November AGM through the following November AGM, during which time, as per constitution, positions are elected or re-elected. Committee Positions Include: membership, special projects, newsletter, and website.
- May 1st to April 30th annual issue (only $20 individual, $30 couple) - 20% discount on Barkerville Historic Town & Park Admission - 10% discount on a day-pass at Troll Ski Resort on Highway 26 - 10% off your bill at Barkerville Brewing Co. in Quesnel - A free ice-cream at Frog on the Bog Gifts in Wells - A free flight of beer at Bricklayer Brewing Co. in Chilliwack.
Mailing Address: PO Box 4152, Quesnel, BC, V2J 3J2 Primary E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.friendsofbarkerville.ca Facebook: Friends of Barkerville - Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society Memberships: in person or via paypal through website Newsletter: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
We would also like to thank all those over the years who have poured their hearts, souls, blood, sweat, tears, and joy into Barkerville Historic Town & Park. Love is too strong a word for some, but I’d venture to suggest that we all truly share a deep love for Barkerville. Bearing that in mind, it is inevitable after all these years that we will lose loved ones along this path. Sadly, we mourn the passing of Glen Escott this year. A thank-you to Connor Kenney, who has volunteered his time and skill as a Graphic Designer to lay-out this newsletter. His work is evident all over Barkerville’s marketing and signage these last few years, and he was recently appointed Commerce and Marketing Lead for Barkerville Historic Town & Park. We hope to continue former director, Lana Fox’s, excellent legacy of the FOB newsletter (you can find a wealth of information in past editions on our website). If you are not a member and have enjoyed our newsletter, please consider purchasing an annual membership through one of our directors, the cashiers at the Visitor’s Reception Centre in Barkerville, the BGM Community Relations office, or through our website: $20 for an individual or $30 for a couple. And remember, if you donate to our society… you can now receive a Tax Receipt! Our three cash donation boxes are not presently mounted in Barkerville, and as such, cash donations can now only be made to society directors. However, if you support our work and wish to contribute, donations through our website are encouraged and preferred. We would also like to acknowledge that this is the second season in a row in which Barkerville Gold Mines-Osisko Development has supplemented a provincial funding shortfall with a $500,000 donation to keep interpretive, educational, and performance programming available for visitors. Thank you BGM-ODV for keeping Living History alive, and thank you to the Barkerville Heritage Trust and all the staff in Barkerville Historic Town & Park for all of the work you do, both in front of and behind the scenes, to keep this extraordinary site maintained and operating.
If you’re feeling adventurous this summer, don’t forget to hike the Stanley to Barkerville trail (but remember, the signage is in development and hasn’t been installed yet so proceed with caution, take supplies, beware of bears, and plan checkins), or download a route guide for the Cariboo Waggon Road and pull off of Highway 97 for some historic exploration if you’re travelling that way, make sure to stop into Barkerville Brewing and flash your membership card proudly if you happen to be in Quesnel, and don’t forget to stop and explore historic Wells if you’re passing through (where you can now, for a brief several kilometers, check-in with loved ones via cellular reception should you so choose), and of course, we sincerely hope to see you out in Barkerville proper this season where regular programming is up and running again now that restrictions have eased. Book a bed and breakfast or a cottage stay. Visit the El Dorado gold panning and giftshop, McMahons Confectionary, the Methodist Church, St. Saviours Anglican Church, the Williams Creek Schoolhouse, the Wendle House, Cameron & Ames Blacksmith, tour Barkerville by horse and carriage at Barnard’s express, eat at the Wake-Up Jake Restaurant, try tasty treats at the Goldfield’s Bakery, have an historic photograph taken at Louis Blancs, sip on a Barkerville Brewing beer at the House Hotel coffee saloon, see the Kelly annex, shop for quality goods at McPherson’s Jewellers, the Mason and Daly, or Strouss Quality Goods, attend the Theatre Royal (July onwards), visit the Cariboo Sentinel newspaper and printshop, the Chinese Schoolhouse, eat at the Lung Duck Tong, shop at the Kwong Sang Wing, hike to the Richfield Courthouse, and visit the Waterwheel. Partake in Occidental and Chinese tours and school lessons, learn Indigenous history, attend various discourses and performances, as well as select special events, hike local trails, and explore days worth of exhibits. Barkerville is, after all, where the Past is Present. We are proud as ever to be kindred, and we hope that you are, too. -Brendan Bailey
president’s report We’re mid-way through 2022 and are hoping that we can continue to see a return to normal activities as the year progresses. This past year, we’ve continued to be able to meet and have come up with some exciting projects that we hope to see completed by next year: signage for the Cariboo Waggon Road from Stanley to Barkerville, for one.
worst of the pandemic behind us, we are looking forward to hosting some fun fundraising activities this fall. We have a great team of directors to work with and I hope some of you members will stay tuned-in and come-out and join us when we get all the details in place. It’s a complete pleasure to work with this group of people. -Hildur Sinclair, President
We received a grant of $50,000 from BGM-ODV, and with an additional $5,000 from NPTGS, we were able to have the trail brushed and cleared. Now, with the installation of signage looming, the trail is becoming much more user friendly. And, of course, Friends of Barkerville has finally attained Charitable Status! This sets us up to have a larger impact on ensuring that our society can continue to help preserve and protect the trails and heritage that support Barkerville. With the
treasurer’s report charitable status!
Friends of Barkerville-Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society was granted Charitable Status by Canada Revenue in December 2021. This means that our society can now issue a tax receipt for donations! Whereas, formerly, a portion of the sale of season-passes to Barkerville as well as donations (no receipt issued) were the only source of revenue for the society. In 2019, the season-pass portion was no longer available to the society and discussion about other funding sources led to an application for charitable status in late 2019. A revised application was submitted in early 2021, with the help of Wells resident, Judy Campbell, and a letter was received from the CRA advising the society of their new status in late 2021. Revenue sources for the society are now comprised of charitable donations, cash donations from collection boxes around Barkerville*, and the purchase of yearly memberships. Please see our website for donation information and membership perks: the society will issue a tax receipt starting at a $10.00 donation (please note: tax receipts will not be issued for the purchase of an annual membership). The Friends of Barkerville thank Barkerville Gold MinesOsisko Development for their $50,000 donation, and the New Pathways to Gold Society for their $5,000 donation. These were important bridges after the loss of our season-pass revenue and allowed the society to continue upgrading portions of the Cariboo Wagon Road between Stanley and Barkerville. *please note that our society cash donation boxes are not presently mounted in Barkerville. -Tony McDonald, Treasurer
table of contents p 1. from the editor. president’s report. p 2. treasurer’s report. a blast from the past. the valley of the flags. p 3. fob-cghs scholarship. p 4. the cariboo waggon road re-opens. sawney’s legacy. p 5. the spell of wells. p 8. stake your claim. p 10. meet the directors! p2
a blast from the past the founding of friends
It’s always interesting to remember where we came from, how and why we arrived in the place we are today. The year was 1985, almost 40 years ago, and as I recall, the conversation began on the streets of Barkerville. A bunch of us realized that Barkerville (in turmoil as it so often is) needed supporters – a group of supporters who would lobby for consistency in funding and consistency in historical interpretation. This was a time when a changing variety of provincial ministers governed the historic town and when first-person interpretation was only two years old. Though it was relatively early in the season, a mixed group of staff, interpreters, and merchants gathered at 7:30p.m., July 9, 1985, to talk about what could be done. Attending were: Ron Candy, Barkerville conservator; Ron Young, of Louis A. Blanc Photo Gallery; Arden Craig, of Theatre Royal; Kevin Brown, interpreter at Holt & Burgess; Sue Smith; Eva Grandell; and myself, as James Kelso - an interpreter. A few more folks came aboard in the following months. My hand-written notes indicate that we decided we needed a lobby group for historic and environmental concerns, and to raise funds for conservation and trail work. We made a list of groups to contact and defined areas and dates of interest. A discussion mentioned the need for historical papers and essays on such things as the Chinese influence and Moses’s journals, while noting that research projects might include woman, Chinese, archeology, mining licenses, trails, recreation and land acquisition. Our area of interest was suggested as east of the Fraser River and west of the Cariboo River, from Horsefly in the south to the Bowron Lakes in the north, during the years 1858 to 1885. Our name was to be The Friends of Barkerville Heritage Society, and away we went on our mission. The society went through turbulent times as we raised millions of dollars in provincial funding, supporting
the restoration of Quesnel Forks, mining license research projects and trail restoration (mainly the Cariboo Waggon Road to Stanley). However, while we now had financial support, the cost was turning ourselves into a society managed by (and with directors having to confirmed by) the Heritage Branch - including watchdogs appointed to the board. That did not turn out well. We wanted independence. Within a few years, several Directors wrestled back control by forming another society. With the advice of Bill Speare (who was the Member of the Legislative Assembly who helped found Barkerville), we reformed with a new constitution under the name “The Friends of Barkerville – Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society.” The rest, we might say, is history. The subsequent years saw FOB, as we became known, or BOB, “Buddies of Barkerville”, take on a multitude of projects from aggressive lobbying, promoting the site, and ministerial and cabinet meetings, to managing the Cariboo Sentinel and the grunt work of building and restoring trails. Directors have been many and varied. Each has helped to shape our direction and is remembered for their contribution. Now, 36 years later we continue. Friends of Barkerville is still restoring trails, supporting Barkerville projects, and lobbying for consistent provincial funding. While much has changed, much has remained the same. The site is now managed by a Trust. Willows and weed still grow to hide trails, and governments still have to be challenged to support built-heritage and interpretation. The challenge remains. -Richard Wright, Founding Chair/President
the valley of the flags On Sunday, May 29th, at 10:00am, Barkerville Indigenous Consultants and Indigenous Interpreters, Mike Retasket and Cheryl Chapman, led a gathering crowd of Barkerville employees, family, and Wells locals in ceremony and song. The date marked the anniversary of the confirmation of 215 graves having been located at the former Kamloops Residential School on the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation. The meeting place was the entrance to Barkerville Historic Town & Park where three tattered flags (Britain, Canada, and BC) had been hanging at half-mast in recognition since May 29th, 2021, marking a year of mourning and reflection. The worn flags were removed with thanks for their service while the replacement flags were smudged, mounted, and raised to the sounds of drumming heartbeat and song. Soon, two more flag poles will be erected and representative flags of the Dakelh and Secwépemc nations will join the others. Barkerville is located on these shared ancestral lands. Although revisionist colonial history has long downplayed -or outright ignored- the Indigenous history of the region (especially in regards to the inconvenient truths of displacement, abuse, and cultural genocide of First Nations), archeological evidence, acceptance of oral histories, reconciliation, decolonisation, communication, and friendship are all contributing to a history that is inclusive of everyone’s stories, not just the occidental pioneer-settler edit.
We acknowledge and thank Mike and Cheryl for their grace, guidance, and leadership in this difficult process and we commend Barkerville for becoming a guidepost for inclusive history for the rest of the province. Its main street was, after all, known historically as the Valley of Flags for all of the global nations represented there: the Cariboo Goldrush was a truly multicultural experience. If you would like to learn more, an introduction into a more inclusive and expansive comprehension of our shared history can be found through the Indigenous programming at Barkerville, through www.richinhistory. ca, in Daniel Marshall’s Claiming the Land, and in Mica Jorgenson’s “Into That Country to Work”: Aboriginal Economic Activities during Barkerville’s Gold Rush (found in the publication BC Studies: Barkerville). Please come and visit Sintsé and Mrs. Lucie Sellars this season to learn more about that history, their history, and our collective history. It is in this way that we begin to heal, and it is in this way that we begin to reconcile. Let us never forget that every child matters: Every. Child. Matters. We fly our flags together to be one as family because our Valley of the Flags represents kinship, brethren, and community. And, because: Every Child Matters. We cannot forget this. We learn from our past so that we can grow, and so we must remember. Soon our flags will all fly together proudly in the Cariboo winds… our beloved Valley of the Flags. -Brendan Bailey
fob-cghs scholarship Special Events 2022 season: Jun 4 - Sept 11 DOMINION DAY AND THEATRE ROYAL RE-OPENING: July 1st, Friday BARKERVILLE’S INDIGENOUS Day CELEBRATION: August 1st, monday CHINESE MID-AUTUMN MOON FESTIVAL September 3rd, Saturday FINAL DAY OF PUBLIC PROGRAMMING: September 11th Extras: Island Mountain Arts host musical guests at the theatre royal: July 15th
ARTS A art-full life is possible
Public Gallery Youth Programs Live Music & Events Arts & Craft Workshops 2022 Harp and Cello School Visit us at 2323 Pooley St. Wells BC.
in memory of jerry macdonald The Friends would like to congratulate Ruby Nicholas and River Nelson for their entries and for being awarded this year’s Jerry MacDonald Scholarship. The first of which is presented here, and the latter of which will be printed in our autumn newsletter. The following is a letter Ruby Nicholas wrote to Mifflin Gibbs from the perspective of Rebecca Gibbs. Rebecca was a laundress in Barkerville and a skilled poet. Her poems were published in the local newspaper, as she wrote to Mifflin and later in the book “Sawney’s Letters and Cariboo Rhymes”, published 1895. The poem “The Old Red Shirt” is her most well-known. July 3rd, 1869 To my dear brother-in-law, Mifflin Gibbs: Dearest Mifflin, I hope you are well and that all is pleasant in Victoria. How is our old house on Fort Street? I do sorely miss the weather there, as well as the ocean. Richard and my’s first winter here in Barkerville was bitterly cold and harsh, but local homesteaders say it was a mild winter compared to others they have had in the Cariboo! I suppose I will have to become accustomed to it, because it seems as though we are to be here for a while. Richard has had no luck as of yet with acquiring gold, though he assures me it will happen any day now. How else could the largest settlement north of San Francisco and west of Chicago attract so many men, if there were not huge fortunes to be made in the creek beds? Mifflin, I wonder if this news may have reached you already in Victoria, such was the scale of the event, but I wanted to tell you my firsthand account! Scarcely two months after we arrived here after a long, strenuous journey on Cariboo Wagon road, there was an enormous fire in Barkerville! It was started by a stovepipe igniting the wooden roof of a saloon and catching onto the entire lower part of the town on September the 16th. I was able to salvage all of our belongings, but tragically our home itself burnt to the ground. However, every building that burned, including ours, was quickly rebuilt within only six weeks, and praise the Lord for that, for this winter was a cold one. I hope that your work on the Victoria City Council is not too strenuous. I never tire of telling each and every miner and prospector that passes through Barkerville that my Husband Richard’s brother is the first black man elected to public office in the history of British Columbia! What a fine thing. I like to imagine at times that one day a political office may have many different kinds of men representing our rapidly growing province, and perhaps even, (though I would never mention this to Richard, for he would scoff at the idea), women. There are not as many suffragettes here in Barkerville as there were in Victoria, but perhaps one day we women shall not only be able to vote, but to be the ones voted for! So much progress has been made in this wonderful time in history, with newer and more efficient machines everywhere I look, such as dynamite that is now being used to improve the new Cariboo Wagon road that perhaps you may see someday should you ever choose to visit Barkerville! I have also heard not a few weeks ago that a man named Christopher Sholes has invented a wonderful new machine called a typewriter that allows one to press buttons to make words on paper, in the place
of writing letters by hand. It is so exciting to be alive at a time like this, never knowing what miraculous thing shall be invented next or what excitement will grip society. If a person had told me in the 1810’s growing up as a young girl in Philadelphia that one day I would be married to a gold miner in the British Columbia mountains, I would scarcely have believed you, and yet here I am in Barkerville! My laundry business that I opened in March is doing quite well, though it is very hard work at times, so much that I have several women working for me now to fit the demand. Men seem to get their clothes dirty twice as fast here mining for gold than they did in Victoria; however, I am not complaining, for that is where my business comes in! Despite my occupation with moving to Barkerville, having to re-settle after our home caught fire, and the laundry business, I am still finding time to write poetry and have been submitting the poems I am rather fond of into the local newspaper, the Cariboo Sentinel. I wrote my favorite poem yet back in May. A poor, threadbare man came to my door with a red shirt requesting for it to be laundered, and I composed the poem as I washed his shirt and others all afternoon. I shall enclose a copy of it, published in the newspaper, below. I hope you like it, it is called “The Old Red Shirt.” Richard sends his greetings to you and anticipates your letter, as do I. As busy as we are here, we miss you and Victoria. Perhaps for our next letter we will be able to enclose a gold nugget! Sending you all our love and well-wishes and hoping to hear from you soon, Rebecca Gibbs The Old Red Shirt. A miner came to my cabin door, His clothes they were covered with dirt ; He held out a piece he desired me to wash, Which I found was an old red shirt. His cheeks were thin, and furrow’s his brow His eyes they were sunk in his head ; He said that he had got work to do, And be able to earn his bread. He said that the “old red shirt” was torn, And asked me to give it a stitch ; But it was threadbare, and sorely worn, Which show’d he was far from rich. O ! miners with good paying claims, O ! traders who wish to do good, Have pity on men who earn your wealth, Grudge not the poor miner his food. Far from these mountains a poor mother mourns The darling that hung by her skirt, When contentment and plenty surrounded the home Of the miner that brought me the shirt. Rebecca Gibbs.
A D V E N T U R E
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the cariboo waggon road re-opens The Cariboo Waggon Road Restoration Project, an initiative of the New Pathways to Gold Society, is a multi-year project seeking to relocate the historic road and its many roadbeds, connecting them into a long-distance hiking and cycling route.
For more information contact: Project Manager Richard Wright at: email@example.com, visit the New Pathways to Gold Society website, or contact Friends of Barkerville to volunteer.
When complete, the 640km route will be, perhaps, Richard Wright, Project Manager the longest historic trail in North America - second (Cariboo Waggon Road Restoration Project) only to cross-country trails such as the TransCanada trail and similar cycling routes across the USA. It will offer trekkers and cyclists a 5 to 14 day journey along the most important historical route in British Columbia (likely even Canada). It is the road that opened up the gold fields of Cariboo and ultimately led B.C. into Confederation.
Please contact: Donna Williams Donna.firstname.lastname@example.org 250.661.4426
The route, called by several names over the decades, had two, then three, trail heads. The first and most well-promoted was Lillooet, where the Royal Engineers began to survey a line north in 1862. Soon after, another route was pushed through from Yale which tallied Mile Houses from the sternwheeler landing on the Fraser River. Then, when the CPR came through in 1886 and destroyed much of the road from Yale, the railway station at Ashcroft became a third Mile Zero with waypoints being remeasured from the Thompson River to Clinton. Clinton was Mile 47 on the Lillooet route and from that point north the original Mileposts remained in use. The CWRR project began in the fall of 2019 with research that, over the next three years, relocated 90% of the route. Although, the road not only had three terminuses but several routes over seasons and decades. Early survey maps are scant but sections of the pre-1900 route can often be located. Then, in 1912-1914 (some 50 years or two generations of teamsters later), the whole route from Lillooet to Quesnel was re-surveyed - likely in preparation for the PGE railway and the improvement of “The Road to Cariboo” for motorized vehicles and the “Broad Tire Act.”
C. Strouss & Company F. J. McMahon Confectionery Eldorado Goldpanning & Gifts A. McPherson Watchmaker & Jeweller
During these three years of research buried in maps and files and riding and hiking, some major improvements have been made. The team has now located and re-built routes where the original has been cut-off (often illegally as it is a gazette road), or paved over by the modern Highway 97. By the fall of 2022, it is expected there will be a mainly off-highway through-route from Lillooet to 100 Mile House. In the meantime, the Friends of Barkerville leapt forward on the road. Over the last three years, with partnerships with NPTGS, Barkerville Gold Mines/Osisko Development, and FLNROD, the Friends of Barkerville have once again cleared and re-opened the Stanley to Barkerville section of the original 1865 road. This section was bypassed by the Devil’s Canyon route, which now goes through Wells, in 1887. As Barkerville interpreters are fond of telling visitors, the road originally entered Barkerville from the south. This trail was one of the first projects Friends of Barkerville took on in 1986. It now offers 25 kilometres of hilly terrain on an original roadbed, best suited to mountain bikes. While all this work continues (as it will for years as access issues and trail restoration takes a lot of time), significant resources can be found on the NPTGS website. Geo-referenced maps combining old surveys with modern satellite images have been built to help locate the route and can be found here in PDF format. Also, a kilometer by kilometer detailed guide to the route and modern trails compiled by Amy Newman can be printed. This guide is a living document and is updated as the modern route changes.
victoria fringe festival!
Noble Players Theatrics will be hitting the road late this August to perform their production of the one-actor James Anderson biography play, Sawney’s Legacy, in the Victoria Fringe Festival! Noble Players Theatrics, named after the properties of gold, is formed of Brendan Bailey and Emily Lindstrom (Friends of Barkerville directors). Brendan first played James Anderson in Barkerville in 2011 for Newman & Wright Productions and, armed with Richard Wright’s research, wrote the play through the Sunset Theatre Exploration Series in 2020. After two staged readings last summer, the team is excited to transition into full production. With Emily as Production and Stage Manager and Brendan as performer, Sawney’s Legacy explores the humanity present in the Cariboo goldfields and the impact of BC’s first published poet through the eyes of his son. Happily, the play will also provide excellent exposure and marketing for Barkerville during the two-week festival: August 24th through September 3rd . If you’re in Victoria during that time, they hope you can attend the performance! Sawney’s Legacy will also be performed earlier on the August long weekend in the Sunset Theatre’s Speakeasy Play Festival!
the spell of wells
how history, mining, and poetry intertwine What follows was originally written to celebrate National Poetry Month in April through Barkerville Gold Mine’s newsletter and blog. Please note that the quoted excerpts do not reflect the original formatting, structure, or crafting of the source material. Since 1998, Canadians have been celebrating national poetry month every April. From Shakespeare to Wordsworth, to Byron and Shelley, Burns to Poe, Yeats to Joyce, leaping from Rainer Maria Rilke to Maya Angelou to Margaret Atwood to Rupi Kaur, we know the names of famous poets, but what exactly is a poem? A poem is a particular piece of writing in which emotion or conceptual ideas have heightened intensity through a particular use of diction, rhythm (not always rhyme scheme), and imagery. I like to consider poems a little more esoterically: as a writer and reader I propose that the really good poems, the best of the best, touch on a concise pocket of universal truth, a humanity, and something relatable that inspires empathy or the inception of thought in the reader or listener. But the best of the best of those poems offer intimacy. While a poet may not be inclined to share their deeper truth outwardly in public, they’ll spill it into words like an accidentally tipped-over cup of unadulterated coffee that they’ll then try to wipe up until they see the Rorschach design begin to form in the stain and ultimately decide to leave it just as it is so that each reader will get to privately interpret the artistic soul when they reflect upon that specific arrangement of words bound in grammar. Poems teach us about the world we live in. Poets tend to see the world around them with the clarity of an emotionally photographic eye turned outward-in and they then formulate their view into a spectrum of vocabulary, a palette of adjectives, and a flow of syllabic patterning that anchors their observations when shared with the reader.
You may still be asking yourself just what in the world poetry has to do with mining? More than you might assume. The path of history, and the migration of miners, can be collected and observed through the writings of mining society. All around the globe wherever there has been mining, celebrated or challenged, we find poetry. The same is true of soldiers who have fought in war and left behind their verse. Intense experiences tend to inspire intense emotions, and a poem reflects that heightened state of emotion or concept. There is little to do with mining that isn’t intense in some way or another. Poetry is revealed in different forms of verse from song lyrics to free verse to structured rhyme schemes.
The California rush was mostly played out by the mid1850s but across the globe in Australia, the Ballarat was a crucible of mining activity as noted in Henry Lawson’s epic Eureka (a fragment) which describes the activity and multiculturalism of most mining camps: “I hear the shovels and the picks and all the air is rife with the rattle of the cradles and the sounds of digger life; the clatter of the windlass-boles, as spinning round they go, and then the signal to his mate, the digger’s cry, “Below!” From many a busy pointing-forge the sound of labour swells, the tinkling of the anvils is as clear as silver bells… the men from all the nations in the New World and the Old, all side by side, like brethren here, are delving after gold.”
Our journey with mining poetry in BC begins with vessels on route to California (late 1848 after word spread of a discovery at Sutter’s Mill) with boatloads of newjack miners traversing the Atlantic and learning sea shanties such as The Worst Old Ship: “Nothing in the galley – nothing in the hold, but the skipper’s turned in with a bag of gold.”
In the late 1850s, focus began to shift from California to a formerly secret gold belt located further north in an appropriated Hudson Bay Company trading territory being called New Caledonia. During this period, we find some excerpts of poetry that were actually used out of their original context for the sake of advertisement (or deterrent) such as Thomas Hood’s 1827 work Miss Kilmansegg: Her Moral: “Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold! Bright and yellow, hard and cold, molten, graven, hammered and rolled, heavy to get and light to hold, hoarded, bartered, bought and sold, stolen, borrowed, squandered, doled, spurned by young, but hung by old to the verge of a church yard mold; price of many a crime untold.”
Many of these European miners who arrived in California in 1849 (they became known as the Forty-Niners) were there due to displacement. In their case, their lack of foundation was largely the result of the technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution (and later: post Crimean War) creating a body of unemployed society and former tradesmen who were all desperate to either provide for themselves or for their families. The Forty-Niners introduced us to this indelible lyric thought to have been placed to a traditional Mexican melody: “In a cavern in a canyon excavating for a mine dwelt a miner forty-niner and his daughter… Clementine.”
Wells – A Deep History Rugged mountains, trees as far as you can see, creeks and streams. Gold seekers from across the globe, all pursuing their dreams. Gold and quartz veins tested with mining claims marked by a stake. A mine beside Cow Mountain, east of Jack of Clubs Lake. A man asked old timers, sworn to secrecy, to reveal secrets no one ever tells. He got financial backing, developed a mine and a town soon emerged, named after Fred Wells. Our country was undergoing a recession. The dirty thirties were causing nervous tension. People of all walks of life were willing to work underground. Coming to the Cariboo where gold was certain to be found. Homes were built, a community hall, a hospital. A Legion, a curling rink, their very own ski hill. Outdoor opportunities- fishing, hunting, biking, and hiking. Competitive sports – curling, hockey, baseball, gambling and skiing. Miners and merchants lived in Wells, Barkerville, and Quesnel. In God’s country, some were in heaven, others went through hell. Some lucky few made their fortunes and thrived. Most just eked out a living and survived. In later years when mining declined and life was slower. Wells was populated by hippies with flower power. Recreation, Arts, and Heritage keep Wells alive and content. Osisko and Barkerville Gold Mine provide mining employment. The historic town of Barkerville and town of Wells are made to last. Supporting each other, connected to the future, present, and past. Taking Highway 26 to the town named after Fred. It has everything you want or need, from A to Z. -Grant Johannensen, 2022
Likewise, a poet for the San Francisco Bulletin wrote of the Fraser Rush in 1858 in The New Yellow Fever: “What’s the matter? What a clatter! All seem Fraser-river mad, on they’re rushing, boldly pushing, old and young, both good and bad; Lawyers, doctors, judges, proctors, politicians, stout and thin; Some law-makers, some lawbreakers, rogues as well as honest men.” As the 30,000 miners on the Fraser River generally declared the rush “a humbug” for findings of naught more than flour gold, hundreds of other prospectors knew better (or dreamed of better) and strove north, often guided by First Nations— mine claims and boom towns left in their wake along the now famous Gold Rush Trail. Eventually this led them to strikes on Antler Creek and Grouse Creek to the southeast of present-day Wells in 1860, then five miles west to establish Richfield on upper Williams Creek in 1861 and then a mile north to establish Barkerville and Cameronton on lower Williams Creek in 1862 (which is located about four miles south of presentday Wells on the last stretch of Highway 26): The Cariboo Gold Rush had begun, and the Cariboo Goldfields were about to become the epicentre of a new colony now called British Columbia. The region was also about to become home to some very prominent poets. Perhaps the most famous of these poets was a Scottish singer, writer, farmer and esquire (and possibly a trained lawyer) who performed with the Cariboo Amateur Dramatic Association, was elected to the Mining Board in 1866, served as the vice-president of the Literary Institute, and was a partner-publisher in a witty winter magazine called The Caribooite. This poet is James Anderson, author of Sawney’s Letters and Cariboo Rhymes, British Columbia’s first known volume of published poetry. Sawney’s was pressed out of the Cariboo Sentinel newspaper and jobshop in Barkerville on the famous 18th century Demer’s Press (which had been cast in Paris, France). The original quarto-style publication was mailed globally and copies of that edition, and subsequent editions, are beginning to be located internationally in various museum archives. Anderson’s poems shared wit, humour, frustration, and sadness, and were based on his exhaustive efforts, successes and losses (both in finance and in life: his associate and friend was killed in a rockslide and he’d left his wife and their infant son back home) through his humbling journey as a mine owner and investor to that of a labourer. The society of Barkerville in the mid 1860s breathes life again through his verse.
He worked claims on Lightning Creek, along Williams Creek, at Red Gulch above Mosquito Creek on Island Mountain, and likely spent a season in the Omineca. Perhaps his most enduring poem was written the day he began his journey back home to his family and estate in Perthshire: “Cold Cariboo, farewell. I write it with a sad and heavy heart; You’ve treated me so roughly that I feel, ‘Tis hard to part. ‘Twas all I asked of thee, One handful of thy plenteous golden grain, Had’st thou but yielded, I’d have sung “Farewell!” And home again.” But where he did not find consistent wealth in his near decade of effort, he had found wealth in the community along Williams Creek: “Farewell! a fond farewell To all thy friendships, kindly Cariboo! No other land hath hearts more warm than thine, Nor friends more true.” Anderson has been the subject of three biographical plays: Sawney’s Legacy (2021) by Brendan Bailey, Westering Man (2012) and The Laird of Pitfar (2005) by Richard Thomas Wright, as well as serving as a loose inspiration for Cariboo Magi (2001) by Lucia Frangione, which continues to be produced across the nation. The Great Gold Rushes are often romanticised but poetry allows us the advantage of closer insight. Rebecca Gibbs is a significant Barkerville poet (not only for her poeticism but also because she was a woman and coloured and was repeatedly published in a patriarchal, biased society). Originally born in Philadelphia, Gibbs spent many years in Barkerville and is remembered on her tombstone in Victoria, BC, as “Laundress, Poet, Nurse.” Her poems usually reflect on significant community events or losses. In her most recognized piece (it appears on her tombstone and in later editions of Anderson’s Sawney’s Letters) she observed that most miners were, in fact, destitute in The Old Red Shirt: “He had said that the “old red shirt” was torn, and asked me to give it a stitch; But it was threadbare, and sorely worn, Which showed he was far from rich. O! Miners with good paying claims, O! Traders who wish to do good, Have pity on men who earn your wealth, Grudge not the poor miner his food.” In 1868, the first Canada (Dominion) Day was celebrated in Barkerville. Three years later, Barkerville resident and colonial MLA, Dr. Robert Carrall, helped to negotiate the terms of British Columbia’s Confederation with the Dominion of Canada in 1871; in 1879 he would introduce a successful bill to make July 1st a public holiday. A local poet, Freemason with Barkerville’s Cariboo Lodge #4 (as was Dr. Carrall), painter, and the designer of the 1868 Dominion flag, W.W. Hill, proclaimed: “O! land of the maple and beaver, we love to hear thy praises afar; Federation thy strength, Dominion thy name. Thou bright, and new shining star.” The next significant gold rush would erupt in 1898 even further north in the Yukon. A young Scottish banker and poet (and also a Freemason) would later be entranced by the stories of the Klondike Gold Rush and reflect regularly on The Spell of the Yukon: “There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting; it’s luring me on as of old; Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting so much as just finding the gold. It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder, It’s the forest where silence has lease, It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder, It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.” Couldn’t it just as easily have been called The Spell of Wells? Most readers recognize the work of Robert Service from the hauntingly queer The Cremation of Sam McGee, but he was a prolific writer and his poetry spans several extensive volumes with much of his material pertaining to gold rush culture. Let us turn our attention back to the Cariboo, where mining and community never ceased to continue (though the scope of activity reduced considerably; in 1924, Barkerville was declared a National Historic Site) through the turn of the century into the roaring 20s. With the advantage of historic hindsight, we know that the world was about to change. Capturing the atmosphere during that turn of the 20th century, contemporary author and historian, founding president of Friends of Barkerville, and former District of Wells Councillor, Richard Thomas Wright (The Overlanders, Barkerville and the Cariboo Goldfields, In a Strange Land) adapted an historic 1860s Welsh Company prospector, Harry Jones’, story in verse as The Biggest Bull; reflecting hardship, humour, and culture:
“A bunch of us were sitting at Lewis Morgan’s hotel, in Stanley, on Lightning Creek, killin’ time, Out of the cold, Couldn’t afford whiskey, so we just talked.”
this wind and snow.” (The Weary Miner was included in the Cariboo Gold Quartz Radio Hour in Barkerville’s Theatre Royal by Newman & Wright Productions in 2017.)
An established, respected, and intrepid prospector named Fred Wells arrived in Barkerville in 1922 at the age of 60 (a decade later he would be mistaken as being in his forties). He had become a member of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy in 1901 and would later be inducted as a lifetime member in 1945, but he was also a noted snowshoe champion in Rossland. He befriended a contemporary local legacy miner, Fred Tregillus, who in turn introduced him to another old-time prospector and soon-to-be-friend: Al Sanders. By 1926, Fred Wells had learned the locations of the Rainbow Zone and Sanders Veins on Cow Mountain above Jack of Clubs Lake. History, as well as Fred’s skill, knowledge, and instinct, told him that he stood on top of a significant lode. As local historian-playwright, Danette Boucher, has him declare in her superlative The Fred Wells Show: “There’s gold in the belly of the Cow!” Indeed, there was! Tregillus optioned the Sanders claims for Wells, the mining operation began the next year, and after a considerable drive for backers, the second Cariboo Gold Rush was soon in full tilt!
In 1950, the Bibliographical Society of Canada in Toronto republished a mimeographed edition of the 1868 pressing of Anderson’s Sawney’s Letters with a forward and the addition of Farewell! Regardless of fixed gold values and the beginning of the post-war, baby-boomer culture, national fascination with the poetry and the community of the first Cariboo Gold Rush was still strong.
Thus, while the world economy was experiencing the desperation and hunger of the Great Depression in the 1930s (with an unemployment rate of 28% by 1931), Wells’ Cariboo Gold Quartz, as well as Island Mountain Mine across the lake and the Coronado Mine on Cornish Mountain, formed and grew. Banks relied on a gold standard and bullion. Gold was an element that was not only entrancing but could be manipulated to numerous applications. For a brief period in the 20th century (halted by the impact of global events) the world needed more gold! A thriving community erupted on the north shore of Jack of Clubs Lake in 1934 called, fittingly, Wells. Because of the global economic climate, Wells became unique amongst company towns for its emphasis on community. That is to say, most mining and company towns eventually developed community out of necessity, whereas, Wells was developed to foster community, to encourage workers to bring or start families, and to serve as a refuge and haven from the conditions of the surrounding world: a “pleasantville” nestled in the Cariboo mountains, if you will. At its peak in the late 1930s and early ‘40s, Wells is thought to have boasted a population of nearly 4,500. The Second World War shifted the global stage and despite its devastation it also boosted economy across the country. However, unfortunately for mining towns, gold value was fixed to its 1934 price until 1968 and mining was declared non-essential. As production became less and less profitable as the world spun on, the next two decades saw the population in Wells recede to approximately 1,000. Local historians, and historic-conservation activists, Esther “Nan” and Fred Ludditt (Gold in the Cariboo, Barkerville Days, Campfire Sketches of the Cariboo) lived in Barkerville in the 1930s and ‘40s, Wells in the 1950s, and moved to Comox in the 1960s. Esther wrote unpublished poetry during their tenure in the region and Fred published her collected verse after her passing in 1983 as My World, My Land. Her use of language reflects the beauty of nature and of kinship. This is from September’s End written at First Chance Creek while sluicing in 1946: “Now the warm, wine-like air briefly wavers ‘Twixt blossom and snow. With its burnedwood, and fruit-ripened flavours That float to and fro, Seeming blithe as a breeze summer flowed in, From the meadow that’s mellow and olden, To the hills that are hushed with the golden Red Autumn tree’s glow.” Of considerable interest to the intertwining of industry and artistry, lyrics to Goebel Reeve’s hauntingly beautiful Hobo’s Lullaby, which was first recorded in 1934; the year Wells became a formal townsite, were discovered in the Tregillus family home. Fred Tregillus’s presumed lyrics demonstrate the impact of the Great Depression, like the original song, but also reflect on the lasting awareness of that era as it pertained to Wells and Barkerville: “Go to sleep, weary miner, let the time drift slowly by, and listen to the stream a’runnin,’ that’s the miner’s lullaby. Well do not worry ‘bout tomorrow, let tomorrow come and go, tonight you’ve got a nice warm cabin, safe from all
Barkerville began transition from active townsite into historic site, museum, and provincial park on British Columbia’s Centennial year of 1958—marking one hundred years after the Fraser River Rush. Poet, Frances McLean, would eventually publish a volume, B.C. Ballads, to commemorate that provincial event; The Giant Sleeping: “Morning sun shows polished lakes, Wide rivers, ponds and creeks. From the warming silent land Mists mount in rainbowed peaks. All animals turn broadside To catch the heated rays, They stand in as darkened statues The growing light displays.” Then, in 1962, it was Barkerville’s turn to celebrate its own Centennial. McLean published Barkerville Ballads while the Barkerville Restoration Advisory Committee and the Queen’s Printers re-issued a pocket edition of the 1869 pressing of Sawney’s Letters and Cariboo Rhymes including a new forward as well as Farewell! 1962 was an important year for Barkerville; not just for its Centennial but because that milestone was excellent marketing that drove further development for the historic site. The Barkerville Community Hall, which in the late thirties had been erected on the site of the recently demolished historic 1869-constructed Theatre Royal, was converted into a professional theatre venue to become, once again, the Theatre Royal. A production of a one-act farce, The Rough Diamond (circa 1847), was staged for the tourist season and opened July 15th. The inception of Barkerville’s beloved and definitive immersive performance interpretation was in motion, and for many years the Theatre Royal was the hub from which interpretive programming elsewhere in the site was developed and expanded. The Theatre Royal (McNeil): “the scraping of the fiddle a pleasant antidote to the fugue of axe and tree and the drama its moral message penned by some playwright in an English town who never could have pictured this—this stranger play translated through the canyons and the valleys up the road to the audience who came to these hills for the single purpose they are now carefully forgetting.” Held dear by countless audiences and practitioners over the last six decades, the Theatre Royal (and park interpretation) celebrates its legacy of professional theatre in the venue—Fran Dowie’s Theatre Royal Troupe for 14 years, Pacific Show Productions for 10 years, TaylorWood turned Eureka Theatre Company for a combined 17 years, Newman & Wright Productions for 16 years, and since 2020, Barkerville Historic Town & Park— with its 60th anniversary only weeks away. Historian F. W. Lindsay (The Cariboo Story, Cariboo Yarns, The Cariboo Dream) was actively researching, writing, and publishing from the 1950s through the 1970s and began each volume with a self-penned poem. From The Cariboo Story (1958): “There’s a swish of runnin’ water In the sluices up the creek; There’s a rumour in the Cariboo Of fortunes still to seek;” and from The Searchers After Gold (1962): “And when the night wind shakes the trees, you’ll hear their ghostly tread, For Cariboo still calls them, though they’re many long years dead.” Lastly, from The Dreamers (1971): “Yet search for gold goes on. Robots of steel Dig deep in the gravel bars and the tailings piles; These mine the claims—not men. Seated aloft, Man only pulls a lever and watches dials. The robot scoops, it probes—into the pay—Into bedrock—clay—blue clay with the nuggets on! The buckets grind and groan, shudder and clank; The machine works on—only men, the dreamers, have gone.” The Cariboo Gold Quartz Company (after acquiring over 4000 acres in mineral claims and absorbing Island Mountain Mines in 1954), ceased operations in 1967; nine years after Wells’ older sister community, Barkerville, had transitioned from active townsite into historic site,
museum, and provincial heritage park. Following the Cariboo Gold Quartz’s forty-years of operation, and despite the surge of tourists and outdoor enthusiasts to Barkerville and Bowron Lake Provincial Park (est. 1961), the population in Wells receded even further to about 300. A migration of hippies traversed to the region from the city centres and the culture began to undergo a renaissance toward rural-based, return to the land, family value socio-economic status. This period very much continues to influence (if not define) the identity of Wells through to the present day. In the 1970s, Wells-Barkerville poet, Betty McCrimmon, penned a locally beloved poem, In Search of Yellow Gold, encapsulating an enduring timeless fascination with the history of the region: “I walked the streets of Barkerville and paused along the way, I marvelled at the ancient church left from that bygone day. The rustic streets still echo strong as in the days of old, where miners by the thousands came in search of yellow gold.”* Surface exploration of the Mosquito Creek Mine began on Island Mountain in 1971 with growing production by the mid-70s and a beneficiation plant operating by 1980. Meanwhile, Troll Ski Resort was built in 1972 and Island Mountain Arts was established in Wells in 1977 to foster arts education and development. The Wells Historical Society reopened the historic Sunset Theatre and operated it for film screenings and as a performance space over the next decade. Despite this rejuvenation through activity; industry, tourism, incoming migration of youth, and cultural renaissance, Wells was still recovering from the closure of the Cariboo Gold Quartz and exodus of nearly 700 residents a decade prior. Jeanie Vant (retired teacher, children’s author, and poet) penned My Family in Wells during an early Island Mountain Arts residency while her husband, Neil Vant, built a cabin on their property. Jeanie notes the prevalence of recession in the area at the time: “Strong, determined hands Building on to a cabin Raining, raining in derelict Wells, We’ll drive to Barkerville now! Have a pleasant walk!” Close friends of the aforementioned Tregillus family, Neil and Jeanie’s roots in Wells-Barkerville and the Cariboo region are deep. Neil was the last resident Vicar (1966-74) at St. Saviours Church in Barkerville, a prospector, former MLA, former Minister of Transportation and Highways, was involved in Barkerville’s governance, and is a Past Master and the current Chaplain of Cariboo Lodge #4. Meanwhile, a few miles south, Barkerville was thriving with provincial newspapers proclaiming it to be admitting an average of 120,000 visitors each ten-week season during its first two decades of operation. This enthusiasm included a number of lauded off-season (Best of Barkerville and Barkerville ’71) provincial tours by Fran Dowie’s vaudevillian Theatre Royal Troupe as well as a national tour and a residency in Montreal’s Expo 67 for Canada’s Centennial Celebration. Then Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, visited Barkerville in 1970. The nation’s eyes were on Wells-Barkerville, and the region was regarded as a provincial and national gem. In 1984, prolific, critically-acclaimed Canadian poet and UCalgary and UBC professor, Florence McNeil, published BARKERVILLE, a nearly 100-page volume of historically inspired verse that was adapted to both theatre and radio; untitled: “when the world turns purple and only small night flares show that some miners like moths still circle around their gold when the music of the axes and rotting wood dies down.” The Mosquito Creek Mine ceased operation in 1987. In High Cariboo, published in 1988,Frances McLean reflected in free verse, penned during an Island Mountain Arts residency, onthe mining and tourist activity in and around Wells: “Else we would hear -echoes- of crashing mine cars dumping waste; muffled booms of dynamite far below, breaking the glistening gold free from white quartz crystal seaming through the rock. Echoes of a sprawling town grown for the mine.” Since then, countless artists, writers, composers, and performers have cut their teeth or joined this enduring living Cariboo Goldfields Poem that is the combined stanzas of outdoor recreation, artistry, and industry
prevalent in the rhythmic structure of this destination community. The world has changed over the last 100 years since Fred Wells mused over the mineralization atop Cow Mountain. Nowadays, Barkerville typically sees 50,000-65,000 visitors a year (despite the age of the epic summer family road-trip having largely faded with the last turn of the century) and it is the largest living history museum in western North America. Much of the economy and society in Wells, which is now host to about 220 taxpaying residents year-round, relies upon the tourism and employment generated by Barkerville and Bowron, just as much of the economy has also always relied upon local industry. For perspective and historic comparison, Barkerville was 90-years-old when the local Chapter of the Cariboo Historical Society first met in 1952 with an aim for its restoration and provincial protection; noting the historic legacy of its origins and significance to the province. Now, 70 years later, the Wells Townsite has formally entered its 88th year and its historic legacy and contribution to the provincial economy during the Great Depression (though a different legacy than that of Barkerville’s link to provincial development and national Confederation) is equally significant. And once again, during a 100-year event pandemic, the economy of Wells-Barkerville has been stabilized by mining activity. What future and historic recognition might lay ahead for this tenacious townsite and the region’s third significant goldrush? In 1984, historian, former Director for the Heritage Branch for the Province of BC, and former Barkerville curator, Jennifer Iredale, had already posited in favour of conservation with her thesis: Wells, BC: A Proposal for Heritage Conservation. There’s an historical poetry prevalent in the continuing and cyclical mining story of this region—if, that is, one looks to synchronicity: the hills here, after all, are always gilded in honey during the sunset’s golden hour. It is not unlike driving east into Wells, reaching the final mile, arriving at the precipice of the south end of Jack of Club’s Lake, gazing out upon Mt. Murray, Valley and Cow Mountains, the iconic remains of the CGQ tailings dump of generations past, multicoloured homes, smelling a whiff of cool, fresh subalpine air, and seeing the shimmering body of water reflecting the wide, vibrant sky before the final decent northbound into town. McLean reflects of a Miner’s Homecoming similarly: “My heart finds beauty everywhere, In a crimson sunset tinged with gold, On one bright star, a rainbow stair, All these things my heart doth hold Since you are coming home to me.” Her verse aptly describes the perennial sentiment of most locals (and migratory employees as well as annual tourists) when that iconic view harkens that they are, as locals phrase it, “almost home.” Those who build their lives in Wells, or return year after year, feel it—are pulled and drawn there. Like the title of Susan Safyan’s 2012 collective biography suggests: All Roads Lead to Wells. Former Barkerville Theatre Royal performer, songwriter, and recording artist, Ross Douglas, has written a number of enduring songs about the history of Wells-Barkerville as well as documenting his own experience in the community in the 1990s, but one ballad in particular, Wells, describes the town’s origins with the eloquent affection and humour of a fortunate 1930s blue-collar labourer, “Wells; where my future’s in the ground and when I chance to look around there’s more and more to meet the eye. Wells; I feel your attributes take hold just like the gold that’s in this mountain and the silver that’s shining in the sky.” The millennium saw industry, destination tourism, and artistry continue to flourish side by side. Industry generally supports the arts while the arts make a community worth living in: an unspoken, ancient agreement necessitated by comprehension, compromise, and, sometimes, compassion. The sixty year-old Wells Community Hall was restored for the second time largely by way of tireless local fundraising and grant writing. A casino was built, opened, closed, and eventually repurposed as a pub, restaurant, and general store a decade later. The community banded together to save their historic 1940s school facility in 2002-03 and defied provincial precedent by succeeding valiantly. Island Mountain Arts began the iconic annual ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art in 2004. Barkerville’s operation
transitioned from provincial government to that of the Barkerville Heritage Trust in 2005. The historic Sunset Theatre was restored (starting in 1999) and opened as a receiving and regional house in 2006. Their first Exploration Series was held that same year and actorplaywright Julia Mackey developed her multi-award winning play about a Canadian WW2 veteran, Jake’s Gift, directed by Dirk Van Stralen, which has now been adapted into French and performed, as of this date: 1,042 times while touring both nationally and internationally. Sawney’s Letters and Cariboo Rhymes was re-published by Ron Young in 2006 (then interpretive proprietor of the Cariboo Sentinel in Barkerville). The Devlin’s Bench Mining Company focused their operations in the region in 2009, and in 2011, the Hard-Up Mining Company joined forces with Devlin’s to rework the historic Heron Channel. Countless placer miners and operations have always worked claims across the countryside. The first iteration of Barkerville Gold Mines formed in 2011 (known to locals now as “Old BGM”) while the new operation (now under Osisko Development’s helm as the proposed Cariboo Gold Project) began to buzz in the community in 2016. Meanwhile, the Bowron Chain of Lakes, escape from instant connectivity, remote camping opportunities, scenic highway, intriguing backroads, superb trail network, fishing, hunting, prospecting, hiking, paddling, snowmobiling, atv’ing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, immersive historical experiences, charming locales and businesses, wildlife sightings, and the uniquely challenging sport of blackfly and mosquito evasion, continue to draw, charm, and inspire lovers of the outdoors, history aficionados, tourists, and artists alike. Arts, Destination Tourism, and Industry: hand in hand, just as it has always been. And yet the rural townsite’s core values, as always, come back to community. In 2017, born and raised Wells poet, Sophie Fourchalk, reflected on that sentiment in the aptly titled Ode to a Hippie Town: “Two hundred smiling faces, Two hundred helping hands, Two hundred friendly neighbours; You make me feel loved. A small hippie town, Strong sense of community, Every member a family; You make me, me.” It is of significant importance that we remember that our historic gold rushes were complicit in colonization and that colonization was complicit in the displacement of local First Peoples such as the Lhtako Dené, Secwépemc, and Takulli Dakelh. First Nations across the province were drastically and devastatingly impacted by the influx of European interest. In the poetic reflections of Mary Augusta Tappage, collected by Jean Speare in Days of Augusta, we begin to comprehend the enormous migratory scope of annual land use as well as a legacy of at least 14,000 years of inhabitancy in Up by Barkerville – The Lillooets: “That was a big cloud of dust way down to the south in the spring, yes. It was the Lillooet Indians coming north, coming north to the goldfields up by Barkerville. They go north into that country to work, to work all the time, hard, horses and wagons, women and children, and dogs, hiyu dogs, all going up by Barkerville.” Since the 19th Century, countless poets, some published for longevity and others lost to time, have shared their experience of this region, of mining, and of their communities in verse. From the Forty-Niners of California to the Boys of ’63 (as Anderson referred to his Barkerville peers) to the Trail of Ninety-Eight in the Klondike to the Hard-Rock Miners to those artists and poets and labourers who have been fascinated and inspired by Wells-Barkerville and the Cariboo mountains over the generations since. As a present-day poet, I have been privileged to be among them; Merry Christmas, I Miss You: “So here’s to you, Wells, where even in thick dark of winter, the gold nuggets in your pan always gleam, where the miners chase leads in the hard rock, and the artists breath life to their dreams.” So, what does poetry have to do with mining? It reflects the humility and humanity in industry. It puts a face and heart to those that have sometimes been referred to as “underground savages,” as proclaimed on a beer bottle nestling an award-winning, crisp, balanced, delicious, malty amber ale called Barkerville Brewing’s 18 Karat
Ale (one of this author’s favourites, and worth savouring slowly while reading poetry, I might add). After all, the miners of the past were people making their way through life just like you and I – working toward a better day while making the best of the day they had. When they stopped for a moment to look at the world around them, they saw those gilded, golden hour hills and they felt the weight of history and rugged, rural, natural beauty all around them. Most importantly, despite the intensity of the geography, the challenge of a life at the end of the highway (as well as at the end of the historic engineering triumph once considered the “8th Wonder of the World,” the historic Cariboo Waggon Road), they knew community intimately. And they wrote about it; tersely, beautifully, rhythmically. They captured something universal and they shared it from the heart. They still do. So if you ever feel so inclined, I hope that you, too, contribute a stanza or two to the enduring poem that is the Spell of Wells. However, the town of Wells could not have come into existence without Barkerville. The two are symbiotic and forever entwined, not unlike the symbolism of the Celtic Knot and the continuing story of the Cariboo Gold Rushes—the starts and stops, the large rushes and small ones, the people who work them, the people who live them, the people who share them, and the poets who reflect on them; the history here is intimate, the history here is Knotted:
stake your claim
the 1860s barkerville brewery of yore staked rich ground for the barkerville brewing of today The Barkerville Brewing Company, proudly re-established in 2013, has become synonymous with great beer, unique branding, and engaging storytelling over the last eight years since production and distribution began in 2014, and rightfully so, the present day company maintains an historic legacy of excellence and it all started 159 years ago. The original Barkerville Brewery, Saloon, and Lodging formed as a partnership between J.B. Chancellier and Nicolas Cunio in 1863 when Barkerville was still a growing boomtown and mining camp. The brewery was located midtown at the foot of the western slope of the valley in Lots 24 and 25 with a frontage of 50-60 feet spanning two buildings. The brewers utilized the same fresh spring water on the western hillside that would inadvertently help to put an end to a mountain fever outbreak the following year. A present-day visitor to Barkerville would recognize this location as the empty lot beside Cariboo Lodge #4 and as the adjacent 1930s Williams Creek Schoolhouse.
Were St. Patrick to visit Cariboo, The first edition of the Cariboo Sentinel newspaper Would Barker, Cameron, and Diller three was issued from Barkerville on June 6th , 1865, (of the grave as Oisin and Cailte true), and early advertisements for Chancellier and a golden Shamrock; triad deity, Cunio’s brewery indicate that it was already tell of their virtues for posterity? Would his cross bear north to Cameronton, well established: “Chancellier and Cunio: Beer and Porter Brewery! Judged to be of the highest south to Richfield, west to Winkle, Stanley, quality.” The brewery had also gained a notoriety or east to Antler where it’d begun? amongst circuit judges for frequent alcohol-infused ‘Twere Barkerville the center of it, then? ‘Twas true then and truer now thou knowest: brawls or “rows,” as well as hosting formal sparring matches and prize fights. Gold towns entwined exalted by pen; interconnected as a Celtic Knot. It still sounds clear, St. Saviour’s ringing bell, The most popular beer of the day with former Californian miners seemed to be lager, so it is Had he here, would it ring like his as well? -Brendan Bailey For Notes, Permissions, and References and Sources, please visit: https://theintrovertedactor.wordpress. com/2022/05/07/the-spell-of-wells/ * In Search of Yellow Gold by Betty McCrimmon is used with the permission of Ray Blaine.
worth note, and likely a nod to craftsmanship, that the Barkerville Brewery was advertising other traditional European styles. Competition in a flourishing boomtown was stiff, though, with at least five other operating breweries along Williams Creek by 1865: Kerr’s and Duhig’s Ale Brewery, Dominez Brewery, Jones Brewery, Chancillier also held a second brewery dedicated to lager, and Davis and Hertlein established shop right next door to the Barkerville Brewery and advertised lager at comparable prices: “New Brewery & Lager Beer Saloon.”
However, none except for Kerr’s Brewery (which eventually became Kerr & Sons’ Phoenix Brewery after the great fire - Kerr also ran establishments in Quesnellemouth) seemed to carry the staying power and legacy of excellence established by the original Barkerville Brewing. Six years later the Cariboo Sentinel would note the “well earned reputation of the old firm.” On May 23rd , 1866, notice was published in the Cariboo Sentinel that J.B. Chancellier was leaving the partnership and Nicolas Cunio became the sole proprietor of his establishment. However, on September 13th , Cunio joined another short-lived partnership with T.A. Barry in the purchase of Martin and Cook’s Fashion Saloon. A sparring exhibition was held there in early October, but by December 15th , after only four months, Cunio divested his shares to one Mr. Adler. Mr. Cunio was well respected. During St. David’s Day celebrations on March 1 st of 1867 at the Cambrian Hall (thought to be the largest gathering in the community at the time) a local Welsh poet and event documentarian named Tal. O Eifion noted the presence of:
“Mr. Nicholas (sic) Cunio, whom I take the liberty to mention as the representative of our Italian brethren, the Umbri, as they were originally called, being a branch of the great Gomeric family.” The Barkerville Brewery was also a noted landmark and Cunio seemed to be involved in mining and community
interests as well his formal vocations as brewer and hotel keeper. On August 6th , 1867, Cunio was accepting inquiries for the purchase of shares in the Jenken’s Company on Stouts Gulch at his establishment. On September 9th , he was allowing tickets to be sold for $5 a piece (about $250 a ticket today) to the uppercrust Fasanaro Ball at Adler and Barry’s Cameronton Saloon. And, on October 17th , he appeared in court along with his company of miners as the lead plaintiff in a claim-jumping case for property at Red Gulch on Island Mountain. Around this time, Cunio joined in yet another brewing partnership: this time with Louis Erb in the newly formed (and renowned to be out of the local law’s reach) community of Centreville near Red Gulch. Cunio would maintain involvement in that brewery and partnership for the next three years. On September 16th , 1868, the townsite of Barkerville was engulfed and ravished by a fire that originated at Adler and Barry’s New Fashion Saloon. The total financial losses were staggering, but Cunio’s Barkerville Brewery, Saloon, and Lodging were recorded as amongst the highest losses at $40,000 (over a million dollars today). This would have included expensive cellared inventory as well as the loss of the costly brewing facility equipment (likely forged and fashioned by local blacksmiths, tinsmiths, coopers and carpenters) as well as supplies (grain, hops, yeast) and the buildings and businesses. However, the new hotel, saloon, and brewing facility was already being advertised four months later with rooms to let, along with the announcement that Cunio’s XXX Ale had received first prize in the colony! His ‘tripel,’ in other words, had been designated the best beer in British Columbia! The ale had likely been submitted in competition prior to the devasting fire and casks of the precious brew would have been amongst Cunio’s recorded losses. The designation of first place was no small feat with breweries cropping up in most communities, and only a true brewmaster could craft such a masterpiece—especially in a colony now housing many discerning European palettes. Although the designation of XXX in 19th century British Ale is much debated, an explanation appears in the August 16th , 1901, San Francisco Call newspaper:
“BREWERS’ MARKS— A. O. S., City. The marks on casks containing beer or ale signifies the degree of strength. X stands for the Latin word simplex or single, XX for duplex or double and XXX for triplex or triple strength. AK means light bitter beer; AKK, lighter still, P. A., pale ale, and XL, extra strong, being 40 as compared with 30, XXX.” Provided historical research into the availability of brewer’s malts, two-row barley, and accessible hop strains of the era, Cunio’s XXX Ale was undoubtedly a strong beer, probably a golden or pale, likely with a fine head of small bubbles, honeyed malt sweetness, and a crisp (yet lightly floral) bitter finish so as not to be overly sweet. But this is subjective. All we actually know is that it was designated to be a strong ale, and apparently quite a popular one. After nearly a decade of operation, Mr. Cunio sold his Barkerville Brewery to Vaillancour, Lavery, & Co. in 1873 for $3,000 as the community began to experience a postgoldrush recession. The new proprietors continued to brew his “Celebrated XXX Ale,” and advertisements began to abbreviate Barkerville Brewery to “Bark’rville Brewery.” This was likely to compensate for the typeset font size used, but the contraction elicits a playful charm: “Come on in to Bark’rville Brewery, where the lead never plays out, and the beer pours karat gold!”
By May 9th , 1874, only ten months later, Cunio was again operating the brewery as a franchise proprietor. Perhaps the brewery couldn’t function without Cunio’s expertise or rapport, or perhaps he simply missed his business? That same month, though, he fired Lavery (one of the new owners) for poor brewing quality and numerous customer and account complaints. Clearly, Cunio did not want poor quality craftsmanship associated with the legacy of his enterprise or his name, nor did he want to lose loyal customers. Four months later, Cunio and other independent breweries rallied against the provincial government when it tried to prohibit brewing and distilling outside of New Westminster and Victoria. This effort to isolate brewing and distilling lacked full consideration: the young government was actually collecting revenue from all of the provincial operations and would lose a taxation income stream. The reasoning of the regulating body was that the province did not yet have the resources to monitor all the northern operations, but the Cariboo Sentinel lambasted the short-sightedness of that logic in an editorial titled An Unjust Law. Whether this editorial managed to assist in repealing the law is uncertain, but the scope of the newspaper’s influence was vast, being read provincially and internationally, and the editor, Robert Holloway, noted the “outrageous bearing” of the proposed law while comparing brewers to other tradespersons whom it would be wholly illogical to restrict to two small coastal zones, such as bootmakers. It’s quite possible that Holloway was cleverly alluding to the proposed law’s potential to encourage bootleggers, however that term does not appear in written record of etymology regarding illicit alcohol until fifteen years later. Holloway also noted in his editorial that Cunio had invested $20,000 (well over $500,000 today) in capital into his Barkerville Brewery and had “carried on in conformity with the requirements of the law for the past eleven years.” The provincial government relented its unjust law, no doubt due to extensive kick back from across the province, and independent breweries continued to operate. Meanwhile, Cunio remained active in mining activity and bought interest in the Black Jack Company in 1875. That same year, Robert Holloway pressed the very last issue of the Cariboo Sentinel, but we find multiple observations in the journal entries of renowned barber and diarist, Wellington Delaney Moses, to account for the brewery’s last years. For instance, Moses notes that Cunio held a winter dance in “his Brewery Saloon” in January of 1876. In 1879, six years after purchasing the Barkerville Brewery, the remaining owners put the business up for auction on October 2nd and Cunio repurchased his enterprise for $1000. It is unclear why the business wasn’t simply sold back to Cunio as he had been the franchise proprietor for five years. However, Cunio bought it back for $2000 less than he sold it for. It is only speculation on this author’s part, but perhaps Cunio offered Vaillancour and Co. less than they felt the business was worth so they put it up for auction (only for Cunio to place the winning bid, after all)? Or, perhaps the owners were sore over Cunio’s dismissal of Lavery five years earlier (Lavery actually took Cunio to court over the dismissal and lost). Or, given his reputation as a proprietor and craftsman brewer, could it be possible that no one else placed bids against Cunio in the name of community service? While an unlikely idealistic notion, it remains true that Cunio was well liked and respected… as was his beer. Either way, Cunio was once again the sole proprietor of his enterprise. Only two weeks later, for reasons unknown, Cunio left his Barkerville Brewery under the charge of his former partner, T.A. Barry (of Adler and Barry’s Fashion Saloon). Moses notes that Cunio was returning to Italy but does not specify whether his departure was intended to be a temporary or permanent absence. Provided that he was leaving his Brewery and Saloon in Barry’s care, and had recently repurchased the business, it stands to reason that Cunio intended to return to Barkerville.
On April 25 th of 1880, the Brewery and Saloon was extensively damaged in a site-specific fire, but three days later Barry was operating the business out of an adjoining saloon. How long Barry continued to operate the Barkerville Brewery afterward is unknown, as is whether or not Cunio ever returned from Italy. Regardless, our trail grows cold after the year of 1880 and our story involving the Barkerville Brewery name lays dormant for over a century. Much transpired over that century, including in the world of Canadian beer: prohibition, the later domination of three main Canadian breweries and a market saturated with their similar light beers known as genuine drafts or pilsner-lagers. This led to the real ale movement and the craft beer revolution of the 1980s and 1990s during which John Mitchell lobbied the government to ease restrictive liquor laws and to allow room for microbreweries. Meanwhile, his friend and business partner, Frank Appleton, designed brewery facilities and mentored numerous young brewers in the art of traditional craftsmanship while encouraging experimentation and creation. Together, they made way for and inspired a rapid surge in brewery marketplace growth during the first decade of the 21 st century, and craft beer has since become a widely recognized factor of Canadian identity in the international market. In fact, a prior Barkerville administration in the early nineties briefly contemplated establishing a small interpretive pioneer brewery on site, though the project was eventually rejected. Fast forward through those 132 years to 2012 when a Victoria, BC, resident named Russ Ovans also turned his eyes to Barkerville. Ovans was disinterested in domestic Canadian pilsner-lagers but found craft ales entirely agreeable and quite compelling. He had spent 2011 and 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland, while his wife completed a master’s degree. During that time, he kept a blog wherein he documented visiting 365 pubs in 365 days. An educator and computer scientist, Ovans also wanted to be involved with a new brewery enterprise. After returning to Canada from Scotland, he argued a case study for branding a brewery around an historic site in order to become an Accredited Mentor of the BC Innovation Council. The concept was clear and there was an obvious historic site waiting. In an interview at the time with CAMRA BC’s Jen Reiher, Ovans expressed his love for beer:
“It’s culture. It’s art. When done right, beer gives us an impetus to share the kind of local, authentic experiences that you only find within your neighbourhood pub: places that people in the community go to meet, commiserate, debate, be entertained, and share stories of love and adventure, all the while enjoying a glass of their favourite beverage.” The pairing between a legacy of good beer and community made sense, which is exactly why the historic legacy of Barkerville made sense. However, negotiating and maintaining full largescale production within an historic site renowned for its immersive 19th century curation (and located 85km away from primary highways following a winding, two-thousand foot climb along a mountainous route) would have been too complicated and meant that the facility would have to be located elsewhere.
community support for the brewery began to grow exponentially. Since those early days of adversity, the brewery has developed a strong brand incorporating the history, names, and terminology of the Cariboo Gold Rush and Barkerville into the names and labels of their beers. It is no exaggeration that the team at the Barkerville Brewing Company have built a provincially and nationally recognized enterprise. They have accrued (in only eight years) a number of esteemed beer awards: Silver and Bronze placements for their 18 Karat Ale, Silver for their 52 Foot Stout, and Bronze for their Mucho Oro lager in the Canadian Brewing Awards, and First Place awards for their White Gold Witbier, 52 Foot Stout, and DemiMondaine Dunkleweizen in the BC Beer Awards. Early on, in the spring of 2015, Barkerville Brewing received a huge break and superb promotion when the Royal BC Museum approached them to partner in their Gold Rush! El Dorado in BC! exhibit. Their Mucho Oro lager, named after an historic mining claim, was promoted across the province and 10% of each sale went to the Royal BC Museum and the Barkerville Heritage Trust. The Brewery was awarded Business of the Year by the Quesnel Chamber of Commerce in 2018, is regularly involved in collaborative releases with other breweries, and is also highly active in fundraising efforts through beer releases (wildfire relief, mental health support, campaigns for both men and woman’s health, as well as women’s rights and awareness). In particular, the brewery hosts an annual collaborative brew day every February to release a new International Woman’s Day beer every March 8th . These beers have included the Hurdy Gurdy Hibiscus ale, the Gold Digger dry-hopped pale, a Claim Jumper sour series entry, and a medieval gruit called Aunt Florence which was brewed with select herbs to ease circulation. Between 2018 and 2020, Barkerville Brewing became renowned for – simply through happenstance— defying industry stereotyping by becoming a primarily (and for a time exclusively) female-operated brewery. Today, the team has released over 40 beers and their story-telling branding is shifting to be more inclusive of Barkerville’s historic Valley of the Flags multicultural and complex reconciliatory roots in order to tell more subversive and difficult components of our local history while still balancing the playful flair in marketing that is a requirement for any brewery hoping to stand the trials of time. An excellent example is the wonderfully refreshing and discreetly potent Pearl River Lemon Ginger pilsner. The Pearl River celebrates the Chinese population of Barkerville and acknowledges the governmental discrimination faced by the Chinese right through the 20th century. Other beers, like the Ganzfeld Effect Schwarzbier, a smoky dark lager, pay tribute to the altered state of miners who worked underground and were deprived of sunlight in twelve-hour shifts. The Aunt Florence Gruit celebrates the remarkable force of Florence Wilson: poet, publican, librarian, performer, and social-expectation-defying feminist (to learn more, see the Bonepicker documentary, Enigma: The Florence Wilson Story, on Vimeo, or visit her in Barkerville).
Recently, Russ Ovans decided to part ways with his brewery after eight years and sold to Flight Partners. Fear The nearby town of Wells posed similar logistical issues not, the team on the ground at the Barkerville Brewing for large production. The next closest location was the Co. is still the trusted staff of several years and the good City of Quesnel located on Highway 97 between Williams beers, community involvement, and good times keep Lake and Prince George, about an hour and a half drive coming. Recent releases include the summer-sipper, Last either way and an hour drive to Wells-Barkerville. A Ditch Hefeweizen, and a tart cherry and red currant Claim heavily travelled tourist route with a charming downtown Jumper Sour Series, the Berliner Weisse, the wonderfully… and no existent craft brewery market at the time, Quesnel well… ‘beety’… Root Cellar Funky Beets ale, and a special made perfect sense. brew to celebrate another important cause: Quesnel Pride, is just around the corner. As branding shifts slightly A former 1950s garage turned nightclub located on Davies under new ownership, follow the brewery’s social media Street was selected, but establishing the brewery there for beer tasting notes and historic write-ups (Instagram: was not without its hiccups. The original gas tanks were barkervillebeer, Facebook: Barkerville Brewing Co., still submerged and environmental remediation was Website: www.barkervillebeer.com). Or, you can stop required before renovations could commence. Also, in by their location on Davies Street to get acquainted and a shocking and frightening turn of events, the brewery sample one of their twelve taps in the tasting lounge, windows were shot-out by an individual wielding a purchase cans or bombers to savour later, or, if you really firearm, putting the small staff, understandably, on like a particular beer: take a growler home! If you present edge for quite some time. Fortunately, the incident was your Friends of Barkerville membership card, you are isolated, was not representative of the family and industry even eligible to receive 10% off your purchase. based surrounding community of Quesnel, and
If you’d prefer to try a Barkerville Brewing beer while visiting Barkerville, you’re still in luck! This season you can enjoy the unique and immersive sensorial experience of sipping on a draught Sluice Juice Hazy Pale Ale or the award-winning Mucho Oro lager in the House Hotel Restaurant. There, you can sink into your chair on the hardwood flooring and let the sounds and activity of the past, such as horse hooves clomping alongside carriage wheels rolling, pair with the flavour of a genuine local beer to transport you back in time to the seventeen-year legacy, 1863 through 1880 (perhaps longer), of Nicolas Cunio’s highly regarded Barkerville Brewery. Stay there a while, it’s a good place to contemplate the world and to think about the lessons of the past for the present: how far we’ve come… how far we’ve yet to go. Or, perhaps, just take a few moments to slow down and listen awhile. That’s a luxury most of us don’t afford ourselves much of anymore. Please imbibe responsibly, and cheers! Brendan (18 Karat, Prescription Porter, High Stakes, Demimonde, Ganzfeld, Pearl River) Bailey NOTE: This entry has been condensed from a yet-to-be-published chapter on Brand Association with Barkerville written for an upcoming book by the author called Where the Past is Present: Loving Living History in Barkerville, BC. The price approximation data is courtesy of a comprehensive Inflation Calculator incorporating available Consumer Price Index data, Official Inflation data, Alioth Finance data, cumulative price change, and peer-reviewed academic study, to provide approximate estimates: e.g. $1 Canadian in 1914 is the equivalent of $24 Canadian today, however, £1 in 1864 is the equivalent of £134 today. As there were many international currencies used in historic Barkerville, a catch-all estimate regularly applied for comparison is that $1 in the 1860s represented about $50 today. www.in2013dollars.com Abbreviated References: the Cariboo Sentinel newspaper, the Barkerville archives, Barkerville and the Cariboo Goldfields by Richard Thomas Wright (Heritage House, 2013), The Craft Beer Revolution 2nd Edition by Joe Wiebe (Douglas & McIntyre, 2015), Brewing Revolution by Frank Appleton (Harbour Publishing, 2016), a vast number of newspaper, podcast, and beer blog interviews with Barkerville Brewing staff from 2013 until present, and finally with deep thanks to Barkerville Brewing General Manager, Meghan Lackey, and to the Barkerville Curatorial and Archivist staff for their time, resources, and discussion.
meet the directors! Hildur Fossberg Sinclair (President) has been a Director for several years. Born in Wells, B.C., Hildur attended school in Quesnel and completed a Diploma of Horticulture from Olds College, Alberta, where she remained until moving back to Troll in 2002. Hildur is the owner of Troll Ski Resort and has been in charge for the last 20 years: winter activities are obvious, and summers revolve around ski hill maintenance. She has three grown children and is married to Leonard Sinclair. When not working at the ski hill, Hildur loves to roam around this beautiful province by way of canoeing and hiking, imagining what it would have been like to explore this area 150 years ago. Grant Johannensen (Vice President) has been a Director since 2008. He was born and raised in Quesnel and has visited Barkerville every year since he was about 5 or 6 years old. He holds a Horticulture Diploma from Olds College, Alberta, and worked for the Ministry of Forests for 35 years (mostly in the Silviculture department). He worked in and around the Barkerville area during some of that time and was fascinated with the history and loved the mountains and scenery of the area. Now retired, Grant has been the secretary, president, and is now the Vice President of the Friends. He has been a Director with the Barkerville Heritage Trust as the representative for FOB-CGHS since 2016 and is presently the secretary. He has also been volunteering with Quesnel Search and Rescue since 2008. He enjoys hiking, gardening, golfing, curling, and reading about local history: “I am proud to call the Cariboo my home, where Indigenous people of BC have lived off the land for centuries. Many others have followed their lead and have pioneered and settled in the area, learning what a special place this is. Preserving, protecting, and promoting Barkerville and surrounding area for everyone’s use and enjoyment is important for the present, learning from the past and going into the future with knowledge and partnerships, sharing truths and working on reconciliation. We welcome visitors and locals and hope you will continue to support us by purchasing a membership.” Tony McDonald (Treasurer) has been a Director since 2016. His family has deep roots in the Cariboo, and if his children lived here they would be the 4th generation in Quesnel. Tony was a consulting professional forester for 20 years as well as working a wide variety of other forest industry occupations, including sawmills, log drives, hand falling, truck driver, woodlot owner. He retired in 2009. Their vacation home in Wells, alongside trekking, skiing, hiking, golf, and their children and grandchildren in Agassiz and Whitehorse, keep Tony and his wife Deanna busy. Cameron Graham (Secretary) has been a Director since 2017. Cameron grew up in Merritt, BC, where he enjoyed sports (namely hockey and rugby) and the outdoors, frequently camping and fishing around Merritt. His passion for the outdoors pushed him to pursue a career in forestry, and after 5 years at UBC, he graduated and was offered a job with West Fraser in Quesnel. He is currently a Planning Coordinator. Richard Wright (founding Director, founding President) has been a Director since 1985. He is a prolific author, historian, theatre producer, photographer, outdoorsman, and documentary filmmaker (as well as being a former rancher, fireman, educator, and a formative Barkerville street interpreter). The author of over 22 books and hundreds of articles, his Barkerville and the Cariboo Goldfields is the definitive guide to Barkerville. He is a former Director for Heritage BC and the Barkerville Heritage Trust. Alongside his partner, Amy Newman, as Newman & Wright Productions, Richard was the contracted proprietor of the Theatre Royal from 2004 through 2019 and maintained the venue while writing, directing, and producing acclaimed historical entertainment. Newman & Wright are currently the Project Managers for the Cariboo Waggon Road Restoration Project, and are also the award-winning documentary filmmakers behind the Bonepicker: Gold Rush Backstories series. Without Richard’s contributions to Barkerville and the region since the 1970s, the names of many women and men would have remained simply that: names, but his research has given many of them their life stories back.
Robert (Robin) Grady (Special Projects) has been a Director since the 1990s. Prior to that, he joined the FOB-CGHS as a member alongside Lana and Gary Fox to assist in relocating the 1861 Goldrush Pack Trail from Keithley to Richfield. He has served the board as Vice President for several years and as President for a few years more. Robin is a graduate of QSS and the BCIT Forestry program. He is now retired after 35 years with West Fraser Mills Woods Dept. in Quesnel and he and his wife Loretta have a son and daughter and four grandchildren. Robin first started hiking in the Barkerville area in a modified back-pack and most likely will finish in a similar way. He was raised in Wells and had an old cabin beyond Barkerville, so made many hikes in the area, both summer and winter. He also had a cabin at Unna Lake in the Bowron Lakes park and made many canoe trips. Kwynn Bodman (Special Projects) has been a Director since 2021. Kwynn was born in Quesnel and is currently employed by West Fraser. He joined the Friends of Barkerville a little over a year ago, and became a director along the way. His passions include anything outdoors, especially fishing, skiing and exploring new areas with his dog. These passions brought him to the Friends, where he contributes his knowledge and energy. Kwynn is very approachable, don’t hesitate to say Hi! Emily Lindstrom (Membership) has been a Director since 2021. She is the Health and Safety Coordinator for Barkerville Gold Mines (Osisko Development), holds an NCSO certification, is a volunteer firefighter, an OFA Level III First Aider, and a certified Mine Rescue responder. Emily also holds a BFA in Arts Administration and Stage Management and completed a threeyear work-study in Production Management at the Phoenix Theatres in Victoria. She worked in Barkerville at the Theatre Royal as Stage Manager during the 2017 and 2019 seasons for Newman & Wright Productions and was the Production Stage Manager for the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival in 2018. Brendan Bailey (Newsletter) has been a Director since 2021. An historic interpreter with Barkerville for 9 years (20112012, 2016-present; theatre royal, street, tour, early justice, schoolhouse, blacksmith, printshop, waterwheel), he is also a freelance writer, professional actor and singer, theatrical director and co-artistic director (ASNY ’07-‘09; Ottawa, ON), playwright, historian, BCWS fire warden, and volunteer firefighter. Brendan was also the former business operator and general manager of the Gastown Noodlebox Restaurant in Vancouver for two years (’14-’16). He can be seen on the screen in Shadow Trap (2019), A Great North Christmas (2021), and GOLD (2013), and is currently researching and writing a book about Barkerville’s museum history. He portrays historic Scottish miner, mining board member, performer and poet, James Anderson, and hopes that you enjoy Barkerville’s welcome return to normalcy this season!