Photostory #311: British Columbia Restores Scene of Cariboo Gold Rush: Barkerville: Glitter of Gold a Century Old
National Film Board of Canada
May 15, 1962
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
When sailor-turned-gold-miner Billy Barker began digging his claim just 100 years ago, other prospectors mocked his amateur efforts. A few weeks later Billy hit pay dirt worth five dollars a pan, $1,000 a foot, and the shanties around his diggings mushroomed into the biggest community north of San Francisco and west of Chicago. As the flow of yellow gold nuggets dwindled, the roistering town sank into obscurity for nearly a century. Today, Barkerville is once more appearing on the map of Canada. Increasing numbers of tourists are hitting the old-time trails of the 30,000 gold-seekers who flooded up from the western states in 1858 -- nine years before Canada became a nation, half a century before the Klondike gold rush in Yukon. To encourage visitors the British Columbia government is restoring Barkerville as a historic landmark -- a place where summer vacationers can dream of the rip-roaring past, the human endurance, hardship, exultation and fortune finding that paved the way for provincial development.