Charting the Cariboo Waggon Road and creating a guidebook was a work of passion for Amy Newman.
Entitled Pathway to Gold: A Guide for Travellers to the Cariboo Waggon Road, the online guide is the result of months of work Newman put in over the summer of 2020. Along with her partner Richard Wright, Newman biked and hiked the historical trail from Lillooet all the way up to just south of 100 Mile House.
“It’s like a slice of history, really, and I found it like a treasure hunt,” Newman said. “I’d hope that people pick that up, you can feel that you’re exploring a part of our history.” The guide, in three parts, can be found at http://newpathwaystogold.ca/resources/.
Newman has long been interested in the history of the Cariboo and the Cariboo Waggon Road. While she’s now based out of Kamloops and Burnaby, for 16 years she operated the Theatre Royal in Barkerville, where the road comes to an end.
When she got the chance to map out the road for the New Pathways to Gold Society, she enthusiastically jumped on it with Wright as her partner and collaborator. The goal of the society is to restore the old Cariboo Waggon Road as a network of biking and hiking trails. For Phase One of the project, she and Wright focused on the Clinton to 127 Mile part of the route.
“The long-term goal is to create a trail, park kind of thing that goes all the way up to Barkerville.”
They began by finding old maps of the Cariboo Waggon Road, which began at Mile 0 in Yale and Lillooet before meeting up in Clinton and going on to Barkerville. Newman said they then overlaid the old route with new maps and plotted their expeditions to check the route in-person accordingly.
Their mission to confirm the route turned out to be the perfect activity to do during the COVID-19 pandemic, Newman said. Not only did it get them outside and keep them active but it was easy to stay distant from others as many parts of these trails are, for now, fairly unknown.
“It does depend on the sections. Some of it is super easy and some of it is a little more challenging depending on your fitness level or what you want to put your bike or your car through.”
She said they stopped just shy of 100 Mile House because the overpass leading into town is a bit challenging and dangerous without a shoulder for bikes. Newman said this spring and summer, she and Wright intend to finish “ground-truthing” the waggon road north of 100 Mile House and ultimately make it to Barkerville.
“So much of it to see, so much history,” Newman said. “It is a multi-cultural trail Chinese folks worked on it, First Nations worked on it, Mexican packers worked it and Europeans.”
This is the first time Newman, an actor, theatre producer, and writer, has written a travel guide. Wright has written several in the past and lent his experience to her as she took about two months to complete the 120-page manuscript.
“Right now we have three chapters of the guide done starting from Lillooet right up to 150 Mile. Having said that it is a living document because we have only just found it and there’s going to be lots of updates as time goes by as more funding comes in and the New Pathways to Gold Society does more work,” Newman said.
In addition to writing, the guide includes maps of the trails, old period photographs and modern photographs taken by Wright and Newman. In the future, she’d like to have two versions of the guide available. One an active guide without pictures for those looking to go out and hike or bike the route themselves and one for armchair expeditions for those who can’t make the journey themselves with photos.
“B.C. people we love our trails, we love our history,” Newman said.
Newman said that for the foreseeable future the guide will remain online and be updated but that as it’s finalized she’d love to see it printed professionally and sold in bookstores.
“The Cariboo Waggon Road is a public resource. Even though it was built 150 years ago, it was built with public money so we all own it. So therefore we should all be able to access and enjoy it.”