of  the
RE Living History Society
(places the RELHS has been to)

 108 Mile House |Barkerville | Burnaby Village Museum | Cottonwood House | Derby Reach Regional Park | Fort Rodd Hill | Hat Creek|
New Westminster Museum and Archives and  Irving House 

4th U.S. Infantry Regiment | American Camp | English Camp | Fort Nisqually | Fort Steilacoom | Fort Vancouver

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Step back to the days of the famous Mile Houses on the Cariboo Wagon Road.

The 105 Mile Roadhouse was originally located on D.L. 80 on the old Cariboo Wagon Road, across from the old 105 Mile Post House barn that is still there.  The house was moved to íts present location in 1979 when the new highway threatened to destroy it.

There are 7 other buildings original to the site including a Log Clydesdale Barn, the largest log barn in Canada (built circa 1908).

To learn more about the 108 Heritage Site please see their web site.

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In 1858, gold was discovered on the Fraser River causing an influx of fortune seekers from all over the world.  When this gold declined, prospectors followed the river north, eventually reaching the creeks of the Cariboo.  In 1861, a group led by William "Dutch Bill" Dietz, found gold in a stream that was named William's Creek in Dutch Bill's honour.  At first, most mining was confined to the area that in 1861 became Richfield.

William "Billy" Barker is believed to have come from Cambridgeshire, England.  After two unsuccessful attempts to find gold above the Black Jack Canyon, he decided to try his luck downstream.  At a depth of 40 feet, Barker's crew struck the "lead".  From there gold production eventually yielded almost 37,500 ounces of the precious metal.

News of the Barker strike spread rapidly, and the town of Barkerville soon developed.  Crude cabins and miners' tents gave way to log and frame buildings that housed saloons, dance halls, general stores, and boarding houses.

Supplies were originally carried to the Cariboo on miners' backs or by pack trains, and prices for even the commonest articles were highly inflated.  This situation changed drastically with the completion of the "Cariboo Waggon Road" in 1865.  Goods could then be delivered in huge wagons, each carrying several tons of freight.  Stagecoaches transported passengers from Yale to Barkerville in six and a half days, and between 1862 and 1870, over 100,000 people travelled the "Cariboo Waggon Road", to what was becoming the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco.

The social life of Barkerville was rich and varied.  Hurdy Gurdy dancing girls charged a dollar a dance to miners hungry for female contact.  Gambling and drinking became accepted methods of letting off steam, and both horse races and prize-fights were common.  For more temperate individuals, there were church services, the Cariboo Literary Society, and the Theatre Royal.

On Wednesday, September 16, 1868, Barkerville was engulfed by fire.  Within two and a half hours, only a handful of buildings remained.  Six weeks later, over 90 buildings had been rebuilt.  The main street was widened, and uniform boardwalks placed on either side.  Companies with large amounts of capital began taking the place of individual miners, and Barkerville remained a supply depot and social centre.

Barkerville continued to be a thriving community until the turn of the century when the town of Stanley on Lightning Creek became its rival as the centre of the Cariboo.  Still, Barkerville lived on: with many miners and prospectors preferring it for their shopping, drinking,  and gambling.

During the 1930s, when the Great Depression caused widespread unemployment and higher gold prices, Barkerville initially experienced a revival.  New buildings were built, and many of the old ones were torn down as the population grew.  Then it became eclipsed by the new mining town of Wells, established around the first successful hard rock gold mine in the area: the Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine.

In 1958, in celebration of BC's Centennial, Barkerville was designated an historic provincial park.  Surviving residents were either bought out, or moved to nearby New Barkerville, and the restoration and reconstruction of the town as it was from 1869 to 1885 began.  Today the project continues to protect, preserve, and present the living history of our province.

Barkerville today is one of the largest heritage attractions in BC.  Thousands of visitors travel from all over the world to take in this unique historic site.  During the summer months, the town reverberates with a live theatre, guided town and cemetery tours, street interpreters, stage coach rides, restaurants, gift shops, a photo studio, a bakery, numerous demonstrations, and over 120 restored or reconstructed buildings filled with displays.  An admission charge is in effect from June to September.

In winter, metres of snow provide a playground for snowmobilers and cross-country skiers.  The cold winter months are relieved by the annual Victorian Christmas celebrations in December and the annual snowmobile hillclimb in March and many other local activities.

PLEASE NOTE:  Visitors' pets are not allowed within the town site, EXCEPT for service animals for people with disabilities.



From Vancouver:
Go 800 km/497 miles north on Hwy 97 . . .
From Prince George:
Go 120 km/74½ miles south on Hwy 97 . . .
 . . . which puts you in Quesnel (pronounced: kweh-NELL), then go east 80 km/ 49 miles to the end of highway 26

Barkerville is also:

  • 28 km/17 miles from the World Famous Bowron Lake Provincial Park

  • 10 km/6 miles from Historic Wells -- 1930s gold mining town

  • 80 km/49 miles east of Quesnel at the end of highway 26


Greyhound, BC Rail, and Air Canada all have service to Quesnel, from there you may contact Gold Safari Tours at 250-994-3463 for transportation to Wells, Barkerville, and Bowron Lakes.


2 motels, hotel, and private RV parks in Wells. Conference facilities
3 Provincial Campsites 3 bed and Breakfasts in Barkerville

Special events are held throughout the summer and can be viewed at

For more information, please contact:
   Barkerville Historic Town
   PO Box 19
   Barkerville, BC, Canada V0K 1B0

Tel: 250-994-3332, Extension 29
Fax: 250-994-3435


See also:
Friends of Barkerville:
The Wells, BC, page
Canada for Visitors with Elke Mairs

The gold rush town of Barkerville has great historic significance and it continues to be a valuable resource for Canada, British Columbia, and the North Cariboo.  Every year, it generates $7.3 million in the regional economy!

The plans of the BC Government to transfer management of Barkerville to the private sector ground to a halt recently when the only qualified proponent, the District of Wells, withdrew from the tendering process.

The District of Wells concluded that even with admission increases and staff cuts, it could not operate the site on the reduced budget proposed by the government

To date the Ministry has not made any indication to stakeholders as to the fate of Barkerville.

To help save a valuable historic resource, please see:

OR go directly to

The Barkerville Coalition website at
and send a message to
Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia.

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6501 Deer Lake Avenue
Burnaby, British Columbia
Phone: (604) 293-6500

For more information, please see their web site.

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Constructed on the Cariboo Wagon Road between 1864 and 1865, Cottonwood served the travellers heading for Barkerville or going west to Quesnel.  Horses were changed, hearty meals were offered to stage drivers and passengers, and in the General Store hardware and provisions were sold.

Now only a 25-minute drive from Quesnel, instead of four hours by stage, Cottonwood still offers breakfasts, fresh baking, and lunches.

Visiting this wonderfully preserved and restored pioneer farm is the perfect way to start your Barkerville adventure!

See the original root cellar and double barn, and walk the riverside trail.  Get some souvenirs, fresh produce, and homemade fudge.  The Cottonwood Cafe is open mid-May to September, basic overnight RV camping [no hookups] or rustic cabins [bring a sleeping bag and cookware] are available at low rates .

Call for details about special events, guest speakers, and setting up group visits or picnic lunches.

Cottonwood House Historic Site
c/o 241 Kinchant Street
Quesnel, B.C.  Canada
V2J 2R3
On the Web:
tel: 250- 992-2071
fax:  250- 992-6830

Or, best of all, visit them yourself this summer!  Cottonwood House is beside Highway 26.  Just turn in at the large sign at the junction with Odium Road. 

Cottonwood House is operated by
the School District 28 Career Programs and Partnerships Division.

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This is where the first Fort Langley was built, it's where the Royal Engineers first landed, and it was once the proposed capital of British Columbia.

Take Highway 1 to Langley.  Take the 200th Street exit (No. 58) and head north to 88th Avenue.  Go right on 88th to 208th Street, then turn left and follow it to Allard Crescent.  Go right and follow the green and yellow GVRD signs for about 4.3 kilometres to the Houston Trailhead.

For more information about Derby Reach, please see the GVRD website

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603 Fort Rodd Hill Road
Victoria, B.C.
V9C 2W8
Tel: 250-478-5849
Fax: 250-478-2816

For more information, please see their web site.

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Explore the original buildings of a key location in the transportation history of the Cariboo.  Hat Creek Ranch also presents the story of the early use of the Bonaparte Valley by the Shuswap Nation and their more recent contribution to the growth of the ranching industry.  

There in the dry rain shadow climate, east of the Coast Range mountains, a unique blend of cultures has evolved in a landscape of sage, bunchgrass, and Ponderosa pines.

Hat Creek House is the centrepiece on the 20 historic structures there, and began as a small log stopping house built by former Hudson's Bay Company trader Donald McLean in 1861.  Soon the roadhouse earned a reputation for its good meals and hospitality.  In 1863 the Cariboo Wagon Road to the goldfields was built through the ranch, and McLean was ready to supply rooms, food, whiskey, and stables to the thousands of miners and settlers using the new road.  But he was shot dead while riding with a posse in 1864, and the ranch saw a succession of operators from then on.

Steve Tingley built the big barns in the 1890s, and a B.C. Express stagecoach is now there on display.  Guided tours of the roadhouse will show you turn-of-the-century furnishings in the old saloon, bedrooms, dining room, and kitchen.  Visit the Shuswap village reconstructed near the creek, then catch the next wagon or the stagecoach for a ride along the original Cariboo Wagon Road.  Tasty lunches and snacks are served in the Visitor Centre.

The Tea Room and the upstairs meeting area in the Visitor Centre provide a complete facility for booking a group visit, workshop, or seminar.  Call for details.

At Historic Hat Creek Ranch you'll be able to admire the horses, feed the pigs and chickens, and learn about ranching in the Cariboo.  Of special interest is the magnificent collection of early farm equipment donated by Mr. French.

Even a short hike will soon open up views of the ranch and there's a nature trail along Hat Creek.  Saddle up for a Cariboo trail ride.  Rustic group camping can be arranged in our old-style A-frame tents--a real living history opportunity and ideal for kids.  Call for current programs.  Special events are very popular there, often with great BBQs, music, competitions, and frontier fun--call to see what they have planned.

The grounds are open all year, with most services offered daily mid-May to late September, 10am to 6 pm.

   Junction of Highway 97 and 99, 11 km north of Cache Creek

Historic Hat Creek Ranch 
P.O. Box 878
Cache Creek, BC, V0K 1H0
Phone: (250) 457-9722 * Fax: (250) 457-9311
Toll Free: 1 800 782-0922

Virtual Tour: See Virtual 360

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302 Royal Avenue
New Westminster, B.C.
V3L 1H7
Contact: Colin Stevens 604-527-4639

The New Westminster Museum and Archives are part of the City of New Westminster and are financially assisted by the Government of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council.

For more information call the museum at (604) 527-4640 or drop in.  The New Westminster Museum and Archives, featuring Irving House, are located at 302 Royal Avenue and are open to the public 12:30 – 4:30 Sat-Sun.  Or please see their web site.

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US of A


Members of the 4th U.S. Inf. Regt. relive the lives of the Frontier soldier that helped settle the Washington Territory in the late 1850s. They portray the enlisted soldier on campaign, as well as the officers that served with the 4th.

For more information, including event dates, please see their website
or email:


American Camp in its heyday, circa 1863.
The Officers' Quarters still stands

When Great Britain and the United States in 1859 agreed to a joint occupation of San Juan Island until the water boundary between the two nations could be settled, it was decided that camps would be located on opposite ends of the island.

American Camp really began on a grassy slope about 200 yards from the shoreline of Griffin Bay. That’s where Captain George E. Pickett and Company D, 9th Infantry landed on July 27, 1859.  With the first tent stake, Pickett established an American military presence on San Juan Island that lasted 14 years.

The Virginian changed locations after only three days, perhaps in a quest for level ground but more likely because of the British naval guns looking down his throat.  It wasn’t until the August 10 arrival of reinforcements under command of Lieutenant Colonel Silas Casey that the post found its permanent home.  Casey decided to move after two stormy nights at Pickett’s second camp.

Casey was not impressed with the new site.  "We are encamped in rather exposed situation with regard to the wind, being at the entrance of the Straits of Fuca.  The weather at times is already quite inclement."

On August 22, Casey ordered his growing force (now 450 men) to pull up stakes and relocate to the north slope of the ridge just north of the Hudson’s Bay Company barns — once home to the pig that strayed and started the whole mess two months before.  Casey ordered large, conical Sibley tents shipped from Fort Steilacoom to the new site which Casey deemed, "a very good position for an entrenched camp."

The tents would supplement the clapboard buildings Pickett had already shipped over from Fort Bellingham, among these the hospital, barracks, laundress and officers quarters.  The veteran colonel also ordered Corps of Engineers Second Lieutenant Henry Martyn Robert —later to achieve fame for his Rules of Order— to start work on a earthen fortification on the ridge top east of the new camp with a commanding view of both strait and bay.  Meanwhile, the British riding at anchor in Griffin Bay were nothing short of impressed with the colonel’s enterprise.

"(Casey’s camp) is very strongly placed in the most commanding position at this end of the island, well sheltered in the rear and one side by the Forest and on the other side by a Commanding eminence," wrote Captain James Prevost, commander of the H.M.S. Satellite.

As a deterrent, the post served its purpose until November when Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott and British Columbia Gov. James Douglas finally agreed to a peaceful joint occupation by a company from each nation until the boundary dispute could be resolved.  Casey and the bulk of the troops departed, along with the artillery from the redoubt.  One company remained.

And thus would the post continue through July 17, 1874.  Eight companies from four regiments —all regular army and under command of 15 different officers— would man the post through some of the most tumultuous years of American history.  They endured isolation, bad food, worse quarters and crushing boredom.  Some soldiers were willing to risk company punishment —such as carrying a 40-pound log around the post all day— to numb themselves with the rotgut whisky of old San Juan Town.  Some committed suicide.  Some took "French leave" (deserted).  But most endured and by so doing contributed to the legacy of peace we celebrate today.

For directions to the site, which is on San Juan Island, in the north Puget Sound, off the coast of Washington state, please see

For more information, please see them on the web at

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For more information, please see their web site at

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5400 North Pearl Street
Tacoma, WA
(253) 591-5339
Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, Washington, USA     

For more information, please see their website at

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Washington state

To get to the museum from Interstate 5, take the Bridgeport exit (exit 125) toward Lakewood, and then turn left on Steilacoom Boulevard.  Follow Steilacoom Boulevard for a few miles; the fort is located near the entrance to Western State Hospital at 9601 Steilacoom Blvd. S.W.

For a map, please see

For more information :
Historic Fort Steilacoom Association
PO Box 88447
Steilacoom, WA 98388-0447
email: Fort Steilacoom

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Fort Vancouver was a surprising place: it was a fur trade post, but employed more people at agriculture than any other activity. It was a large business that kept order and stability by employing many different ethnic groups. It was a British establishment, but the primary languages were Canadian French and Chinook Jargon. It represented British territorial interests, yet made American settlement in the Northwest possible. Even those who wished it gone praised the hospitality and assistance they found there.

Map and Driving Directions

From I-5, take the Mill Plain exit and head east.  Turn south onto Fort Vancouver Way.  At the traffic circle, go east on Evergreen Boulevard and follow signs to the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center.  The reconstructed fort site is south of the visitor center - follow the park road which connects the visitor center parking lot to the fort parking lot.

From I-205, go west on Highway 14 about six miles, then take I-5 north. From I-5, take the Mill Plain exit and head east.  Turn south onto Fort Vancouver Way.  At the traffic circle, go east on Evergreen Boulevard and follow signs to the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center.  The reconstructed fort site is south of the visitor center -- follow the park road which connects the visitor center parking lot to the fort parking lot.

For more information about Fort Vancouver, please see their web site.

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 Friends of the RE