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History of Barkerville

Images of Barkerville


Barkerville Essays

William "Billy" Barker

William Barker was an Englishman living in Cambridgeshire with his wife Jane and daughter Emma. He worked as a waterman, plying the Rivers of the Fenlands moving freight across England. Railway transportation made this profession obsolete so Bill decided to go goldmining. He sailed to the gold fields of California in the early 1850's.
Billy Barker

He first appears in B.C. in 1859 listed in Thomas Ellwyn, Gold Commissioner's Lilloet District Mining Record Book. Bill Barker applied for and received Free Miner's Certificate #9 under the new Goldfields Act .

By 1862, he was in Richfield prospecting below the canyon on Williams Creek. He was the lead figure in the Barker company who 'struck in rich' on August 17, 1862 taking out an ounce of gold for every three pans of dirt forty feet under the surface. This strike caused the founding of the town of Barkerville and is the most famous event of the Cariboo Gold Rush.

Bill Barker wintered in Victoria in 1862/63 where he met and married London widow, Elizabeth Collyer who had recently arrived on the Rosedale. Barker sold his share in the Barker Co. claim to invest in other business enterprises. He bought candles to be sold from William Meacham's store in Barkerville. After a few years he was again broke and his wife died of cancer. By the 1880's he was prospecting near Beaver Pass and in the 1890's was in Clinton boarding at the Clinton Hotel. He died in 1894.

Mather, Ken; "William Billy Barker - Myth and Reality".

Last updated Febuary 28, 1999.
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