Historic Barkerville BC
During the Cariboo gold rush, Barkerville was known as the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. Today it is the largest living historic museum in western North America and a National Heritage Site of Canada. Historic Barkerville is an absolute highlight of your visit to the Cariboo with old time shows and demonstrations, along with all kinds of tours and street entertainment.
Founded in 1862, Barkerville is an exciting destination rich in history and full of life. A typical pioneer town with more than 130 heritage buildings for you to discover. Some of the buildings can be entered, other you view from the doorway. Meet colourful characters from Barkerville’s past, ask them about their “lives” and have some pictures taken.
Learn about William Baker, the happy-go-lucky Englishman, how he discovered gold on Williams Creek in 1862.
Listen to the stories of prospectors and their families, the overlanders, the diseases, the Cariboo Trail. Meet the entrepreneurs who made Barkerville their home, learn about the tough winters and hardships. It’s an amazing story and you will be glad you came.
The town is built on a grade and the two streets through town are not paved. The boardwalks do not all connect. Check out the trail up the hill to get a good view of the town.
Barkerville is located 81 km east of Quesnel on Barkerville Highway 26. It is an easy hour’s drive on a good paved road with many sightseeing attractions along the way. Gasoline is available in nearby Wells.
You park the car before entering the site. It’s easy to spend two days exploring the place. Buy two-day pass if you have time and it will be worth it.
What to See and Do
It’s easy to spend two days in town; there is a lot to see. The following were some of my highlights:
- Start off with joining a walking tour up the main street. Costumed interpreters stroll the streets, greeting and chatting with visitors through the day.
- Have a look at beautiful historic St. Saviour’s Church.
- Visit one of BC’s most interesting historic cemeteries and see graves of the famous and the unknown.
- Join an entertaining live stage show at the Theatre Royal.
- Take a ride around Barkerville on an authentically reconstructed stage coach.
- Chinese History Tour starts from Lung Duck Tong Restaurant. Don’t miss this fascinating exploration of Canada’s oldest Chinatown and the lives of Chinese people in Barkerville.
- Watch the Cornish water wheel in operation and a real gold clean-up. Find out what brought the gold and gold seekers to the Cariboo.
- Pose for a period style photography for a lasting memento of your visit. This will be a fast session, be warned!
- For some of the activities, extra charges apply. Pick up a brochure with all the information when you first arrive.
Places to Eat
The town has snack shops, cafes and a couple of restaurants and at the Lung Duck Tong Restaurant, you will find a feast on authentic Chinese cuisine. These places can get busy to get in sometimes, so you might prefer to bring a packed lunch.
Places to Stay
There is no lack of accommodation in Barkerville. Three on-site B & B’s and 152 camping sites accommodate visitors. I chose to drive back to Wells, where you also find accommodation, restaurants and a general store with fewer people.
Barkerville is open year round
Visitor programs and services are available from mid-May to the end of September. During that time the town is open; authentic businesses, museum displays, and activities for the whole family. At other times of the year, you can visit the town for free, but there won’t be much action and the experience will be different.
No pets are allowed in town.