As I sit here typing this article my husband is across the street at the Sunset Theatre, performing a solo stage show that I wrote for him. The play is called The Fred Wells Show, and it is about the man who gave his name to the town we live in.
When I wrote the script for The Fred Wells Show in 2007 – a project I undertook as part of my MA in Applied Theatre – I had no idea that seven years later the show would still be going strong. The story of our little town that defied the odds and prospered in the face of the Great Depression seems to strike a significant chord with audiences, and I am deeply grateful that people continue to enjoy the unique beauty of our local history. The play has a very simple message: Wells is like no other place, anywhere, ever.
Barkerville is where we put up our hair, lace up our boots, and revel in recreating and interpreting some of Canada’s most thrilling history. Wells is where we let our hair down, give our dialects a few hours off, and enjoy the peculiar, one of a kind energy that resonates through our gold-filled summer experience. A large part of what makes summer so memorable for Barkerville’s seasonal crew is Wells. Wells is where we live. Wells is where we meet.
The story of Wells is, of course, tangled up in the story of Barkerville. Where Barkerville is the “once upon a time” start of our tale, Wells is the “but that’s not where the story ends” continuation of this ever-unraveling legend of what happens when gold reveals itself and communities spring up around the mountains and shafts and tunnels and creeks that hold that gold until the moment the world finds it. Barkerville’s first big gold rush was in the placer mining era of the 1860s and 70s. Wells represents the second Cariboo rush, the hard rock era of the 1930s.
There are so many things to recommend during a visit to Wells. The next time you come to Barkerville, set aside a bit of time to explore our other gold rush town. If you are spending a few evenings in the area, there is almost always something happening in Wells. Once you’ve finished your day in Barkerville, you can spend some memorable time mingling with the locals, the off-duty actors, other visitors and travelers.
Tonight I took my five year old twins to an art opening at the Island Mountain Arts gallery. Two nights ago I went to one of our many summertime cabarets at the Sunset Theatre. The cabarets are a chance for local talent to shine and are a seasonal favourite of Wellsians. Two weekends ago the ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art spilled over into the streets of town and my family and I danced and sang the days and nights away. A few days ago my twins went with their daycare group to the Wells Museum. Throughout the summer our family has enjoyed local cuisine, concerts, art-walks, and more, and we have had more than one welcome occasion to get out into the gorgeous wilderness that wraps Wells in a lush, green, lake-filled blanket of peace.
Wells is an important part of me and no matter how many times I have moved away, for long-periods or short ones, the magic of this place always pulls me back. I love Barkerville… but I think I knew from the first minute I drove into Wells and felt it open its arms and welcome me in, that I was home.
– Danette Boucher
The above one-panel cartoon (originally published August 16, 2014) by Dirk Van Stralen, with accompanying editorial by Danette Boucher, is the fourteenth of twenty weekly entries that were logged – and subsequently blogged – as part of a 2014 collaboration between Barkerville, British Columbia and the Prince George Citizen aimed at introducing some of the quirkier advantages to living, working, and playing in the Cariboo Goldfields. We hope you enjoy!