A rough-and-tumble Gold Rush town, Barkerville boomed in the late 1800s, thanks to a historically rich discovery by prospector Billy Barker.
The resulting fervour laid the groundwork for the flourishing Cariboo Chilcotin Coast community, and today, it's as if little has changed. So much so that a stroll through Barkerville's streets, bustling with horse-drawn wagons and friendly townsfolk, offers a glimpse back some 150 years. A trip back in time that illustrates one certainty: this National Historic Site of Canada is still booming.
Do: You can't visit a Gold Rush town without panning for some nuggets of your own. Take your cue from the prospectors at the Eldorado Gold Panning and Gift Shop, and roll up your sleeves for a little swirl and sift; who knows, you may possess that Billy Barker brand of magic yourself. For even more tutelage, wait for the bell that clangs daily at the Williams Creek Schoolhouse. Here, students of all ages can brush up on their ABCs â from a historic point of view. (Gentleman, be sure to remove your hats before taking your seats.)
Post-class, stroll through the streets and let costumed interpreters lead the way during daily Town Tours that delve into local legends and day-to-day life in the Wild West. Should you wish to pick up the pace, hop into an authentic 1860s-style stagecoach for a heart-thumping, and stylish, tour of town.
See: Ever seen a Cornish water-wheel show? Well, you can here, thanks to light-hearted demonstrations that showcase how 1870s technology (read: an authentic wooden water wheel) was instrumental in claiming the region's precious finds. For metal work of a different sort, make your way to the Cameron and Ames Blacksmith Shop, where the anvil sings daily as craftsmen smooth and shape iron to perfection.
Be sure to stop by Wendle House, and meet Miss Wendle herself; time your visit just right and be rewarded with homemade nibbles of sweet cakes or rhubarb pie, straight from the wood stove. For a treat of a different sort, sit front and centre at Theatre Royal, and settle in for a boisterous bit of on-stage drama, courtesy of a winning ensemble of actors, singers, dancers and musicians.
And let's not forget that Barkerville is celebrating some good fortune of its own this year: Special Anniversary Events at the largest living-history museum in western North America include the Canadian National Gold Panning Championships, a spirited test of âmetalâ during the town's Discovery Day festivities, August 11-12.
Eat: The wafting scent of Goldfield Bakery's signature sourdough bread will tempt you indoors; don't forget to sample made-from-scratch favourites that include shortbread cookies and savoury meat pies. Nearby, Wake-Up-Jake Restaurant serves up comforting plates, from stews to steak (with a strong cup of Joe), while Lung Duck Tong stirs up traditional Chinese cuisine, including delectable dim sum.
Belly full? If there's room for dessert, head to House Hotel, a.k.a. the Rootbeer Saloon, and satisfy your sweet tooth with 16 favours of ice cream and cold, frothy mugs of â you guessed it â root beer.
Sleep: If you don't want to leave the bustle of Barkerville's streets, bed down at the St. George Hotel Bed and Breakfast Inn in the heart of town. Here, tasty gourmet breakfasts will fuel your curiosity; be sure to ask about the B&B's historic beginnings as a saloon and brothel.
A hearty Cariboo breakfast is also on the menu at Barkerville's Kelly and King House Bed and Breakfasts. The two homes, which are a stone's throw from one another, offer equal opportunity for historic sleeps, thanks to feather beds, downy duvets and antique furnishings. All overnights reminiscent of life in this spirited Gold Rush town a century and a half ago.
For more information, or to find out what other festivities are in store in Barkerville Historic Town, visit www.barkerville.ca.
To read more story ideas from the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region, visit www.hellobc.com/cccbcmedia.