Historic re-creators and black powder gun demonstrations are just two of the features of the Cariboo Wagon Road 150 Celebrations.

Cariboo Wagon Road turns 150

Celebrations and events planned this weekend to celebrate sesquicentennial of famed route to the goldfields

Take a staycation, 1863 style, at the Cariboo Wagon Road 150 Celebrations this weekend in Historic Yale.

You’ll get all the excitement, colour, tastes, and pageantry of the opening of the lower section of what was hailed as the “eighth wonder of the world” when it was built in 1863. “We have a wonderful weekend of family fun and a taste of living history celebrating the 150th anniversary of the opening of this historic route,” said Deb Zervini, Yale Historic Site Supervisor.

Visitors can step back into time at the Site site on Aug. 17. Wander through the R.E. Living History re-enactors’ camp, sample the barbecued salmon and fresh-baked bannock, or pan for gold next to the Yale Museum. The event also includes a historic guided walking tour and a performance of Tales and Trails of the Canyon by the Hope Performing Arts Community Theatre.

A tour of some of the intact portions of the Cariboo Wagon Road is another key feature of the festivities. It includes stops at Lady Franklin Rock – named in honour of Lady Jane Franklin, widow of Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, who visited the area in 1861 – traditional salmon-drying sites used by the Yale First Nation and others, and the old Alexandra Bridge. The suspension bridge, which can be visited on foot, was completed in 1926 and considered an engineering marvel in its day.

“You’ll get a very real sense of what it must have been like to travel this amazing road,” said Hope Mountain Centre Program Director Kelly Pearce. “The Cariboo Wagon Road played a key role in the gold rush economy of the 1860s and the development of British Columbia.”

The celebrations continue on Sunday, Aug. 18. Highlights include the re-dedication of the Cariboo Wagon Road plaque and interpretive sign, and the official opening of the new picnic area. The Sunday celebrations end with a reception to celebrate the grand opening of the Ward House, built in 1863 for Johnny Ward, a teamster with the famed BX (Barnard’s Express).

“This celebration is about the future as well as the past,” said Terry Raymond, emcee of Sunday’s festivities.

“Restoring our heritage trails and historical assets – especially key sites like Alexandra Bridge – will help local economies all along the Gold Rush/Spirit Trails corridor from Hope to Barkerville and beyond,” added Cheryl Chapman, New Pathways to Gold Society’s First Nations Co-chair.

Barbara Roden

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