Barkerville’s main street.

Anniversaries highlight 2015 Barkerville season

Everything's getting older - and better - at Barkerville Historic Town.

Barkerville Historic Town is gearing up for an eventful 2015 season filled with education, entertainment, and three sesquicentennial celebrations.

These celebrations include the 150th anniversaries (1865-2015) of Barkerville’s Cariboo Sentinel newspaper, the Cariboo Amateur Dramatic Association’s first public performance (in a saloon) and completion of the legendary Cariboo Waggon Road from Yale to Williams Creek.

By 1865, English boatman-turned-Cariboo miner Billy Barker’s namesake city was considered by some to be the largest north of San Francisco and west of Chicago. It was a wooden metropolis in the wilderness of British Columbia’s Central Interior, and before long Barkerville’s multicultural community was making culture of its own.

The Cariboo Sentinel newspaper printed its first edition in June 1865. One week after that, the Cariboo Amateur Dramatic Association presented its first play. The Cariboo Waggon Road from Yale to Richfield was completed in November, bringing more population, industry, and opportunity to the goldfields.

It also paved the way for Barkerville’s physical preservation. Declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1924, and later a provincial heritage property in 1958, Barkerville is now the largest “living museum” in western North America. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world still travel the Gold Rush Trail every year, and in doing so, help keep the spirit of B.C.’s earliest days prosperous and full of life.

But that’s not all. The Royal BC Museum’s (RBCM) 2015 exhibit, Gold Rush: El Dorado in BC, will bring tales of unfathomable Barkerville riches (along with Billy Barker’s very own pocket watch) to nearly half a million museum visitors in Victoria between May and October before heading out to the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec and several additional ports of call in 2016 and beyond (www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca).

“We are very pleased to have partnered with the RBCM on its Gold Rush exhibit in 2015, and look forward to future collaborations,” says Barkerville chief executive officer Ed Coleman, who will sign an historic memorandum of understanding between the two institutions later this summer.

“As bookends to B.C.’s Gold Rush Trail, Victoria and Barkerville have been integrally connected for more than 150 year. By exploring and promoting this relationship, both provincially and internationally, we bring our communities closer together despite our perceived geographical distance.”

Never one to miss a party, Barkerville Brewing Co. of Quesnel has produced a special Mucho Oro lager to commemorate the RBCM’s Gold Rush: El Dorado in BC exhibit … and partial proceeds from the sale of each bottle will benefit both the museum and the Barkerville Heritage Trust, the stewards of Barkerville’s modern-day legacy.

With its unique streetscape of more than 130 heritage buildings, authentic displays, satellite museums, restaurants, shops and accommodations, Barkerville still has so much to explore. With three significant anniversaries at hand, this season looks like the perfect time to plan a visit.

For more information about Barkerville’s 2015 season of sesquicentennials, which starts May 14 and runs through Sept. 27, visit www.barkerville.ca, or phone Judy Mooring, Visitor Experiences, at 1-888-994-3332, ext. 29.

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