Barkerville Historic Town & Park is a Province of BC owned Heritage Property & Park, and a Government of Canada National Historic Site. Barkerville is an authentic, unique world-class heritage experience.
- Number of Annual Visitors: 50,000-60,000
- Number of Collection Items: 200,000+
- Number of Heritage Buildings: 107
- Number of Heritage Replica Buildings: 62
- Park Size: 457+ hectares; 1130+ acres
- Number of Campsites: 161
A Brief History
British Columbia’s central interior has been profoundly shaped by gold thanks to a simple, working-class English prospector named William ‘Billy’ Barker who, in 1862, spearheaded a twenty-year, multi-billion dollar industrial revolution that literally helped build a Province.
As with many early miners, Barker’s story began in the American gold fields in the mid-1800s where people from all over the world travelled to seek their fortune. By the mid-1850s, gold finds were slowing and rumours began to surface of ‘easy gold’ on the Fraser River. Barker had worked without much success in California and so he, along with thousands of men, headed north to the British territory that is now British Columbia. In addition to the north-bound travellers, groups later called “The Overlanders” trekked across Canada from the East, and hordes of people were arriving by boat from all over the world to travel up the Gold Trail from the coast towards to Fraser River to find fortune.
Eventually, prospectors made their way to the hills that surround Barkerville and one of the first finds was by William “Dutch Bill” Dietz, for whom William’s Creek (which flows through Barkerville) is named. A small town began to spring up around the area, optimistically named Richfield.
Barker eventually ended up in Richfield, trying his hand at a few spots around William’s Creek where his lack of success continued. As time passed, he decided to mine further down the creek, in the area below Richfield. Many people questioned his decision, saying he would find no gold there. But Barker persisted and endured, and was finally proven right on August 17, 1862, when he and his crew ‘struck the lead,’ at a depth of 52 feet.
Today, the extraordinary town of Barkerville (named in Billy’s honour) still stands as testament to BC’s golden beginnings. With a unique streetscape of 125+ heritage buildings, authentic displays, satellite museums, restaurants, shops and accommodations there is still so much to explore. Declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1924 and a Provincial Heritage Property in 1958, Barkerville is now the largest living-history museum in western North America, where exciting seasonal events and fun-filled daily activities await.
Although gold rush towns boomed all over the west in the 1800s, Barkerville is unique, with over 100 heritage structures still standing on the spot that they were built. In addition, there are two historic cemeteries and over 200,000 precious objects and photographs in the museum collection. Barkerville’s Chinatown is the largest collection of pre-railway Chinese buildings in North America and Barkerville has one of the largest Chinese archival collections in Canada with approximately 18,500 items.
This level of collection and preservation is unusual and presents both a tremendous opportunity and a big responsibility. It is a testament to the forethought of the British Columbia residents in the 1950s that supported the Restoration Project. The Barkerville Heritage Trust (the non-profit charity that manages Barkerville on behalf of the Province) is committed to continuing this legacy by ensuring that the highest possible standard of care is given to the buildings and the collection and that a rigorous level of accuracy is maintained when presenting the site to the public.
Barkerville does not represent any single moment in time, but rather the ongoing process of community development – from the discovery and growth years in the 1860s, through many ‘boom and bust’ cycles, and finally, the transformation into a historic site and tourist attraction from the 1950s to the present.
When complete, this Collections and Research section of the website will introduce you to the history of Barkerville, current research and to the portions of our collections that can be viewed via the web.
Do you have an item that is connected to Barkerville’s history that you would like to add to our collections?
You can download a copy of our Aquisitions Form, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss possible donations. Please note all donations must meet Barkerville’s Collections Criteria in order to be accepted.
Barkerville Heritage Trust
Barkerville is managed by the Barkerville Heritage Trust. Each member who sits on the board of the Trust represents a particular set of communities and/or interests from across the Province.
The Trust’s role is to ensure the continued operation of Barkerville as a high quality heritage site. Their mission statement states that “…as the operating and managing partner working with The Government of BC, the owner and statutory guardian of provincial heritage resources, [the Trust] is committed to ensuring that Barkerville is efficiently managed, educational and entertaining to visit and is sustained as a premier heritage resource attraction in BC. Barkerville will continue to be recognized across BC, Canada and the rest of the world for its historical significance.
Board of Directors
Councillor, City of Prince George
Appointed by: City of Prince George/Fraser-Fort George Regional District.
Don Bassermann, B.Ed. UVic, M.Ed. SFU, has been a member of Prince George City Council for eighteen years.
Currently, Don serves as the Chair of the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition; is a Board Member of the Barkerville Heritage Trust; and a Member of the Community Advisory Committee to the Barkerville Capital Campaign Team. Don served for thirty years as a School Principal and Human Resources Administrator for School District #57 in Prince George, BC; twelve years on the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George Board; and seven years as the Local Government appointee to the Province of BC Treaty Negotiation Team, working on the Lheidli T’enneh file.
Past experiences also include serving on the Prince George Community Foundation Board; the Two Rivers Art Gallery Board; and as Chair of the Regional District Cultural Advisory Committee.
Appointed by: City of Quesnel and Cariboo Regional District
John first came to the Cariboo to work the summers as a university student and settled in the Cottonwood area to stay in 1974. He started his silviculture business “Cottonwood Reforestation” in 1978 and since then his crews have planted over forty million trees throughout the Cariboo/Chilcotin. He met his wife Hazel in 1984 and they have lived on their remote 72 hectares along the Cottonwood River ever since. In 1993 they were awarded Woodlot 1406 and have managed the 600 ha. of forested land and their own property for timber production on a sustained yield basis.
John served as president of the Quesnel Woodlot Association for seven years and is currently a director of the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations. In 2008 John was elected to the Cariboo Regional District as Director for Area C which includes Barlow Creek, Cottonwood, Barkerville and Bowron Lakes Park. He serves on a number of local and regional committees for the CRD and the City of Quesnel.
John has a deep interest in local history and has spent much of his spare time exploring the backwoods and creeks of the Cariboo and learning the stories of the early pioneers of the gold rush. He was appointed to the Trust by the CRD and the City of Quesnel in 2010 and his appointment was renewed for a further three years in 2011. John is thrilled with his appointment to the Barkerville Heritage Trust and looks forward to working with the Board and staff for the benefit of Barkerville and the whole region.
Consultant – Islandworks Consulting
Barkerville has had a special place in Rhonda’s heart for many years. Her earliest memories of Barkerville are from a child’s perspective (many long years ago). She remembers Barkerville as a place of enchantment – history come to life in a very special way.
Later, Williams Lake was home for five years and brought new opportunities to enjoy Barkerville. More recently, Rhonda continued her career in the BC public service and was delighted to renew her connection with Barkerville in a more formal way as Director, BC Heritage Branch. During this time, she had the opportunity to work with many people throughout the Cariboo to help bring together the first Board of Directors for the Barkerville Heritage Trust. She now has a business consulting practice and is pleased to return to Barkerville as a member of the Board. Rhonda has a Bachelor’s Degree and Diploma in Public Administration and a professional Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation.
Mayor of Williams Lake/Business Owner
Appointed by: City of Williams Lake/District of 100 Mile House
A proud member of the Williams Lake community for more than 40 years, Walt has been actively involved in the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Association, serving on both Boards as a director and also as President. From 2005 to 2007 Walt was a part-time constituency assistant for Federal MP Dick Harris, after he himself served as Provincial MLA for the South Cariboo riding from 2001 to 2005, and as Mayor of Williams Lake from 1990 to 1996.
While his children were growing up Walt was an avid Cub Scout leader and volunteer, eventually becoming an integral part of organizations like the People in Motion Committee, and Baker Manor, a non-profit housing project for people with disabilities. Walt also sat as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Go-Bus Society, a non-profit group that operates the transit system in Williams Lake, and is currently Secretary of the Williams Lake Rotary Club, of which he been a member since 1995.
Mayor of Wells, British Columbia
Appointed by: District of Wells
Robin was born in New Westminster BC and grew up in North Surrey. He completed his education at Simon Fraser University with a BSc in Biology. To finance his education, he began working for BC Parks in Manning Park and continued with Parks for 14 years, working at Mount Seymour, Cypress Bowl and then back to Manning. In 1986, he moved to the Cariboo to begin a second career at Barkerville Historic Town. Robin enjoyed Wells and Barkerville, the people of the region and the history and remained there the rest of his working career, 26 years. He held positions from supervisor of maintenance and security, through Manager of Visitor Programs and Marketing, and finally became the Regional Director for BC Heritage’s Northern Region, and the first CEO for the Barkerville Heritage Trust. Robin retired in 2010 and travelled for a year before being appointed Mayor for the District of Wells in 2011 and again in 2014.
Robin currently sit on the boards of the Cariboo Regional District, Cariboo Chilcotin Beatle Action Coalition, and Cariboo-Chilcotin Regional Advisory Committee for the Northern Development Initiative Trust. For twenty-eight years, he has been the Committee Chair for the Wells/Barkerville chapter of Ducks Unlimited Canada and also held many other board positions over the years, including President and Treasurer of the Wells Curling Club, a Director/Treasurer with the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association, The Gold Rush Trail Marketing Board, and the North Cariboo Marketing Strategy among others.
Public Affairs Manager, S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
Ms. Eileen Lao is a seasoned communications and government relations professional with 20 years of experience in Canada and overseas, including 8 years with the Canadian federal government in the fields of public diplomacy and international business development, and 5 years with media relations in the private and non-profit sectors.
Prior to her current position at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., one of the biggest social service providers in Canada, as Public Affairs Manager, Ms. Lao worked as Public Affairs Officer and Trade Commissioner for the Canadian Consulate General in Guangzhou, China, where her main responsibilities include media relations and raising Canada’s profile in China. She also served in a managerial capacity at Asian Motor Sports Television Co. Ltd, a Hong Kong-based international company specializing in marketing sports programs, including Formula One World Championship and Grand Prix World Motorcycle Championship, to broadcasters in Asia. Ms. Lao is the Director of BC-Guangdong Business Council and Vancouver-Guangzhou Friendship Association. She is also the Advisor of Canada-China Society of Science and Technology.
Ms. Lao is a member of the Canadian Public Relations Society.
Head, Archives & Special Collections
Appointed by: UNBC and School District 28
Ramona Rose, M.A., MMst, is the Head of the Northern BC Archives & Special Collections unit at the Geoffrey R. Weller Library at the University of Northern BC. Ramona has over 25 years heritage and cultural collections management experience in both academic and public archives and regional museums. As a public history enthusiast, she serves as the Director for UNBC and School District 28 on the Barkerville Heritage Trust and is also a board member of the Prince George Oral History Group.
Community Economic Development Coordinator, Soda Creek Indian Band
Appointed by: Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association
Miriam first came to the Cariboo Chilcotin in 2000 and spent many summers working, studying and travelling in this amazing region. She grew up in Germany and after completing her university degree in leisure and tourism in 2007 she moved to Williams Lake. Through her position with the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association she got to know many of the region’s tourism operators and industry partners. Since 2010 Miriam is working for the Soda Creek Indian Band north of Williams Lake managing and promoting Xatśūll Heritage Village, the community’s tourism business. When not behind her desk Miriam still finds time to ride horses and explore the trails and mountain ranges of the beautiful Cariboo Chilcotin.
Producer and Artistic Director, Newman & Wright Theatre Company
Appointed by: Friends of Barkerville-Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society
As well as being an author, historian and businessman Richard Wright has a background as a musician, producer and artistic director. He and his partner Amy Newman are partners in Newman & Wright Theatre Company and operate the Theatre Royal in historic Barkerville.
Richard has been a cameraman, scriptwriter and producer for CBC in both radio and TV. As well he and his family were the subject of a National Film Board production “Family Down the Fraser.” In recent years he has worked as a line producer and wrangler for CBC’s “A People’s History” TV Series and for Red Letter Film’s production “The Legend of Cataline.” He has appeared on “National Geographic Today” and CBC’s “On the Road Again” regarding the Cariboo Camel Trek, a project he conceived for the Jack of Clubs Casino.
The Cariboo Tourist Association awarded him their prestigious “Caribooster of the Year” award in 2004 based on the Cariboo Camel project and the Best Tourism Marketing Innovation award in 2007. He gives several radio and TV interviews each year and has had his music projects featured in documentary films.
He has been a street interpreter/actor in Barkerville in the 1980s, acted in several plays and directed and produced community theatre shows. He was the founder of “The Boys from Joe Denny’s Saloon,” the first group to bring music to the boardwalk of Barkerville. He has authored 22 books, including three focusing on the Cariboo gold rush. He is a senior associate with Jim Stanton and Associates, a media consulting firm, and when not managing the Theatre Royal runs Winter Quarters Press, a photography and publishing company.
Richard is in his third term as a councillor of Wells District and served on BC’s Heritage Trust for several years. He is the founding president and current Vice-President of the Friends of Barkerville and Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society, who he represents on the board of Barkerville Heritage Trust.
Les and his wife Carol have lived in Prince George since 1974. Les’ career as a Human Resources professional was largely in the forest industry at Northwood and Canfor where he was Vice President Human Resources. He also worked with Northern Health as Vice President Human Resources for three years until his ‘retirement’ in August 2007. He currently does some human resources consulting.
He graduated from UBC with a B. Comm. and has his FCHRP designation.
Les is a strong community supporter and over the years has held executive positions with the Babe Ruth Baseball Association, The Prince George Symphony Orchestra, was on two Boards that hosted the BC Festival of Arts in Prince George, is a Past President of the Prince George Community Foundation, and was Co-Chair of the 2015 Prince George Bid Committee for the Canada Winter Games. He was a Campaign Manager – for the $10 million capital campaign with the Canadian Cancer Society to build a 36 bed residential lodge in Prince George. He was Chair of the Prince George 2008 BC Seniors Games Society. He is past Treasurer with the Prince George Regional Performing Arts Centre Society. He is also past President of the B.C. Human Resources Management Association.
Currently he is Chair of the Prince George Airport Authority, Chair of the Prince George 2015 Canada Games Legacy Committee and a Board member with the Barkerville Heritage Trust.
Les and Carol’s son Troy with wife Marlo, and daughter Karla with husband Gordon both live in Prince George. Les and Carol have 5 grandchildren – Cole, Grace, Reid, and Quinn in Prince George and Chelsea in Calgary.
Executive Director of Britannia Mine Museum
Appointed by: BC Museums Association and the Heritage Society of BC
With over 25 years experience as a Museum curator, educator and administrator, Kirstin combines her love of history with the arts to promote the Museum as a vibrant and relevant landmark in the community. She provides operational oversight and is responsible for the implementation of long term strategic plans relating to the Museum programs and services.
Board Minutes & Annual Report
Manager | Visitor Experiences & Public Relations
1-888-994-3332, ext. 41
Ed Coleman – CEO
250-994-3302 ext. 23 | 888-994-3332 toll free
Kiley Sales – Commerce, Partnership & Giving Officer
250-994-3302 ext. 48 | 888-994-3332 toll free
Dianne Nysven – Corporate Services
250-994-3302 ext. 27 | 888-994-3332 toll free
Dawn Leroy – Corporate Services
250-994-3302 ext. 24 | 888-994-3332 toll free
James Douglas – Manager
250-994-3302 ext. 41 | 888-994-3332 toll free
Judy Mooring – Visitor Programs
250-994-3302 ext. 29 | 888-994-3332 toll free
Carleigh Drew – Marketing, Products & Activities Officer
250-994-3302 ext. 38 | 888-994-3332 toll free
Mandy Kilsby – Manager & Curator
250-994-3302 ext. 35 | 888-994-3332 toll free
Lynn Berlin – Manager
250-994-3302 ext. 36 | 888-994-3332 toll free
Reuben Berlin – Manager
250-994-3302 ext. 22 | 888-994-3332 toll free