Prepare to strike it rich and learn something en route

Barkerville encourages its guests to try something new this season

by Breanne Massey
— Thomas Drasdauskis photo

The small town of Barkerville has a big enough personality to whisk you away from any bustling city. Tour guides take visitors back in time so they can see what life was like during B.C.'s most exciting part of history: the gold rush.

“The tour guide is a first-person, costumed re-enactor who invites (visitors) into his or her own town,” said James Douglas, manager of visitor experiences and public relations specialist at Barkville Historic Town. “And then, (guides) show them relevant landmarks, and tell tales of the town’s community heritage from the perspective of someone who is actually living there.”

Instead of being told about the town, travellers can get a taste of what life was like during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The interpretive guides here often teach families about the area through the use of improv acting and a series of well-versed facts from history, creating vibrant memories for guests.

“You could visit Barkerville once, twice or a dozen times and experience the town in a variety of different ways,” said Douglas. “The information you receive will be authentic, even if the delivery is slightly different each time.”

A series of historical artifacts and museum archives enriches the experience. Douglas said that some of the town's heritage could go “largely unnoticed” due to the huge selection of materials that are available to guests, but that's why re-enactors point people in the right direction.

“There are more than 188,000 individual artifacts in Barkerville’s collections, (including) letters, photographs and other ephemera,” said Douglas. “Our tours will be unique this season because 2012 is Barkerville’s 150th anniversary.”

Interactive tours and interpretive programs are only two aspects of Barkerville worth partaking in this season. Scott Rea, a lifelong resident of Barkerville and five-time World Invitational gold panning champion, is eager to host the Canadian National Gold Panning Championships weekend gala for visitors on August 11 and 12, 2012.

For more information, visit the website.

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