Today, in this magical mountain setting, clues to a mother lode of adventure beckon us.
Where creeks bring gold from the mountains, ghosts of the past entertain us with romantic tales of the roaring gold rush days. In the re-created boom town of Barkerville, adventurous residents of the 1860’s guide our tour group on a spirited journey into one of the World’s greatest gold rushes.
“Would you like to buy some shares in our Goldmine?” A handsome host, dressed in 19th century fashion, presents himself to our group.
In open theatre, we are entertained by the drama of early mining promotion. The audience is captivated by a riveting comedy of innocence and greed. An ingenious gold digger and a charismatic mining promoter educate us on the essence of the gold rush.
Today, a tourism rush comes on the heels of a gold rush. Each Summer, more than 100,000 visitors discover the glamorous heritage town of Barkerville.
Amidst this caricature of history, we find a vivid portrayal of life during the gold rush era. Entering an old church, we come upon a crowd engaged by the exciting appearance of British Columbia’s first Judge.
Matthew Begbie, the fearless Justice responsible for making and maintaining law during the turbulent gold rush, holds court daily.
With gentle dignity, the Judge, having collected himself after a brief but indignant outburst (for which he is well known) responds to our probing questions. After all this time, 140 years or so, the Judge’s recall of events is astonishing.
The early history of British Columbia unfolds as Judge Begbie chronicles life during wild and daring times.
It’s not easy to leave our new friends behind in Barkerville. The treasure we find there doesn’t come out of the ground. However, we are eager to dig into our own gold rush and set out with gold pans.
Clues to the whereabouts of golden treasure abound. On our tour, we stop at the nearby authentic boom town of Wells. Like Barkerville, Wells grew out of a feverish gold rush. Today, we are meeting local characters who make a lifestyle of gold hunting.
This year round land of dreams is the focus of investors. New projects are underway. In this classic heritage town of Wells, a 1930’s style casino is in the works. Heli-skiing is about to begin and the hospitality industry is gearing up.
“There really is gold here,” cries out a 72 year-old adventuress as she peers down at the gold in her pan. Our tour group is gathered near a crystal clear creek which bubbles through a rocky canyon.
We discover gold flakes in the moss, tree trunk roots as well as in the creekside gravels.
“Can I pay for my tour with the gold that I find?”, asks a young boy of the tour guide.
We also discover with a little more panning, that the esteemed gold nugget is elusive. We’re told, though, that with perserverence, gold nuggets are unearthed each year on new and old gold trails.
Despite the elusive rich gold strike and the ebb and flow of gold rushes, gold hunting is seductive.
There are parts of this country that not everyone sees. The surrounding mystical hills are home to buried treasure. Gold-rich subterranean ore veins lie sometimes just below the surface of the ground.
In musty tunnels, built decades ago, the glittering rocky face of the precious yellow metal is evident. Pyrite (fool’s gold) glistens and often contains gold within its fibre. The true value of the attractive rock and the intrinsic gold content is determined by a laboratory assay.
Many believe that these heavily-mineralised ore bodies are the mother lode or host rock from which river gold originates.
It’s not just gold, though, that attracts tourists each year to these mountains. In this garden of gold, venturesome holidayers find refuge from regulated city lifestyles.
In a vast network of pristine mountains and lakes, trail riders, hikers, canoers, fishermen, hunters, mountain bikers, campers, skiers and snowmobilers bask in the mountain fresh air at 4,000’
And we’re not leaving ‘til we find a gold nugget!
Historic 1930's Wells Gold Boom Town.
One of the few towns in B.C. where employment was available during the Great Depression.
The wild west and critics didn't deter successful Fred Wells.
Learn about our colorful local history with Joy
1860's Barkerville Gold Rush Town.
Now a world famous tourist attraction,
Barkerville's characters built the boom town
over Billy Barker's Gold - rich Claim.
Click here to view Joy's article, 'Striking it Rich'.
1 888 996 GOLD (4653) toll free in North America
(250) 994 3463 Local 'phone number