Barkerville National Historic Site of Canada
Cariboo Gold Fields
Champs aurifères de Cariboo
Links and documents
1862/01/01 to 1865/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Barkerville National Historic Site of Canada is located on Williams Creek in eastern British Columbia. The historic town was founded in 1862 after the discovery of significant gold deposits in the Cariboo gold fields, but was destroyed by fire in 1868. Constructed almost immediately on the ruins of the first, the second Barkerville began a gradual decline, surviving with reduced mining operations and the maintenance of government offices. The restoration and rebuilding of the town in the late-1950s was initiated with the intension of returning Barkerville to its 1869-1885 state. The townsite, surrounded by huge pits and ditches from 19th century gold mining, marks the northern terminus of the Cariboo Wagon Road, and contains within its boundaries the Chee Kung Tong Building National Historic Site of Canada. Official recognition refers to the boundary of the Barkerville Historic Town at the time of designation.
Barkerville was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1924 because:
- it was the centre of the Cariboo gold fields which were the catalyst for the economic and political development in British Colombia;
- it was the terminus of the great wagon road from Yale, completed in 1865.
The town of Barkerville on Williams Creek began to grow around 1862 after the discovery of significant gold deposits in the Cariboo gold fields. The gold fields were the catalyst for economic and political development in British Colombia. The increased prosperity of Barkerville was facilitated by the Cariboo road, or Great Wagon Road, constructed by the colony of British Columbia between 1862 and 1865. The 650 kilometre-long road greatly improved access to the Cariboo gold fields, beginning at Yale, a major steam port and ending at Barkerville, amidst the gold fields. The road was part of a plan to boost the economy by drawing traffic away from American entrepreneurs, by vastly reducing shipping costs to the mines and by encouraging commerce and settlement in the interior. Unfortunately, the town of Bakerville was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1868, leaving only four buildings intact. A second Barkerville was immediately constructed on the ruins of the first town. While the community continued to survive based on periodic mining excitement and the maintenance of government offices, Barkerville started to decline and unused houses fell into disrepair or were demolished.
British Columbia’s centennial in 1958 provided a catalyst for the restoration of the town. The provincial government created Barkerville Historic Provincial Park and reconstructed the town to mirror its appearance during the 1869-1885 period. This period was chosen because the Cariboo gold fields and Great Wagon Road to Barkerville fostered economic and political development in British Colombia. It also marks a significant date in British Columbia’s history with the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1924, November 2008.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- its location in eastern British Colombia, at the heart of the historic mining district;
- its setting on the banks of Williams Creek;
- the planned, design, and layout of the buildings;
- the buildings in their original form, construction and materials;
- the raised wooden boardwalk;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains relating to the 1862 Barkerville and the 1868 reconstruction, which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent;
- its relationship with the Chee Kung Tong National Historic Site of Canada and the Cariboo Wagon Road National Historic Event of Canada;
- the viewscapes across Williams Creek.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1868/01/01 to 1868/01/01
1869/01/01 to 1885/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Historic or Interpretive Site
- Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection
Barkerville - located in central British Columbia, ninety kilometers east of Quesnel at the edge of the Cariboo Mountains - is a heritage district that includes a historic town…