Billy Barker's Gold Rush

British Columbia’s Caribou Gold Rush Trail was a bustling, wild and often violent place in the 1800s.

It was in 1861 in the Caribou region in the interior of B.C. and news of gold made its way to the ears of Billy Barker, a no-luck prospector who’d arrived from England with big dreams that had so far failed him.

Undaunted by his bad luck, Barker formed his own company and started looking for gold in Williams Creek in 1962 and struck it rich in August with a 60 oz find. Within a couple of years, Barkerville in the B.C. Interior was the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco.

Along with its growth, Barkerville had many hidden stories. From dancing hurdy-gurdy girls, disreputable saloons, rough crowds, a serial killer murderess who claimed at least 49 lives, a thriving China town, ghosts and so many other tales that could only come out of a wild west. 

Over his life span Billy Barker is said to have pulled out over 37500 oz of gold. Let’s consider that an ounce of gold then was worth around $25.17 CAN which had the purchasing power today of about $740.  But Billy managed to die penniless at the age of 77 with a multitude of failed investments and claims. Seems luck had failed him again.

However history can agree… That 60 oz find whether it was by chance or not, not only brought the gold rush to the Caribou, but was one of the key factors in building the province of British Columbia to what it is today.   


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