Barkerville Town, Photo Geoff Moore
There is a lot of history in the Barkerville-Wells area and during the summer months the historic, world-class town of Barkerville comes alive and is fun for all the family. At this National Historic Site you can take a stage coach ride, try panning for gold, see demonstrations, and enjoy some of the numerous street performances or live theatre. Wells also has a rich heritage which can be seen at the Wells Museum. Situated in the Old Island Mine Office, the museum houses a diverse collection of artifacts from the second Cariboo Gold Rush from 1930 – 1967. The area surrounding Wells has a network of old mining trails, historic ditchlines and mining and forestry roads that are very popular for outdoor enthusiasts. Many trails lead to alpine meadows with stunning scenery. Some can be hiked in a day, others require three or four. The nearby Jack O’ Clubs Lake is an excellent spot to canoe, swim, sail or fish. This scenic lake is within walking distance from the town of Wells and is popular among locals and visitors alike. Access to Bowron Lake Provincial Park is close by and has over 116 km (72 mi) of waterways which are frequented by paddlers during the summer months.
The small community of Wells is located 660 km (396 mi) north of Vancouver off Hwy 97 to Hwy 26. From Quesnel on Hwy 97, turn east on Hwy 26 and travel 74 km (46 mi) to Wells. Barkerville is located approximately 88 km (55 mi) east of Quesnel at the end of Hwy 26, only 8 km (5 mi) from Wells.
In 1862, Billy Barker discovered gold on Williams Creek, causing an influx of gold seekers to swarm to the area, which became known as Barkerville. Many say that it was this discovery of gold that ‘opened up’ the province of British Columbia and gave way for a future full of hope. During its heyday, Barkerville was the largest city north of Chicago and west of San Francisco. Today, Barkerville is western Canada’s largest heritage attraction and visitors flock here to learn about the rich history of this region. Barkerville is situated only 8 km (5 mi) from the town of Wells.
During the 1920s Fred Wells discovered gold while constructing a hard rock mine deep inside Cow Mountain, just west of Barkerville, in the Cariboo Region of British Columbia. These discoveries lead to a new gold rush in the area which provided new hope and opportunity for the region during the depression of the 1930s. Fred Wells founded the company town of Wells at the head of the Willow River. His mine, the Gold Quartz Mine, is one of the first discoveries of hard rock gold in BC. The community emerged and grew during this period, as people came from across the country in search of a new fortune and life.
Today the town is still known as a friendly mining town. Take a stroll through ‘uptown’ and view many original heritage buildings, be sure to spot the only wooden-framed flatiron building standing in BC, this is one of the most photographed buildings in the province!