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Place Names:


Barkerville is east of Quesnel. This town was named after Billy Barker, who struck it rich in gold there. Barker was a Cornish potter turned sailor. He jumped ship in 1858 to join the gold rush in the Fraser Canyon. On August 21 1862, he was digging in the Cariboo fifty-feet into the earth and had not found any gold. Barker was ready to give up, but continued. Two feet deeper he hit pay dirt. Billy Barker and his partners took out over $600,000 worth of gold. This of course would be a price worth much more today. Billy Barker soon lost all his fine fortune to a wife and heartless woman. Barker died in the Old Men's Home in Victoria in 1894.

Quesnel River, Quesnel and Quesnel Lake:

The Quesnel River flows N.W. and S.W. into the Fraser River. Simon Fraser named the river and as a result the surrounding area after Jules Maurice Quesnel. Jules Quesnel was one of the two clerks of the North West Company who accompanied Simon Fraser on his historic journey. Quesnel was twenty-two years old at the time. In is final years Quesnel was active in Quebec politics, being a member first of the Special Council of Lower Canada, and then of the Legislative Council of the united province of Canada. He died in 1842.

The Quesnel River was at one time known also as the Swift River. The ghost town of Quesnel Forks, or Forks City, was one of the earliest Cariboo gold camps.

The town of Quesnel was once known as "Quesnelle Mouth."

Antler Creek:

Antler Creek is east of Barkerville. The British Colonist noted on April 18th, 1861 that

Antler Creek, on which new and rich diggings have recently been struck, received its name from the fact that a pair of very large antlers were found on its banks by the first miners who ascended that stream.

Keithly Creek:

Keithly Creek flows southeast into the Cariboo Lake. It was here that "Doc" Keithly struck it rich in July 1860, and set off the Cariboo gold rush.

Williams Lake:

Williams Lake is south of Quesnel. Williams Lake is named for Chief William, who was at one time the leader of the Sugar Cane Reserve Natives. The name of Williams Lake dates back to at least April 28, 1860.

Soda Creek:

Soda Creek is north of Williams Lake. It takes its name from the white alkali powder that dries on the rocks.


Horsefly is northeast of Williams Lake. The settlement of Horsefly was originally called Harper's Camp after Thaddeus Harper, pioneer rancher and miner. The present name comes from the horseflies that are in abundance in the summer.

Alkali Lake:

Alkali Lake is south of Williams Lake. It got its name form the landmark patch of alkali in the area.


Clinton is north of Cache Creek. Originally known as cut Off Valley or 47 Mile House. In 1863, upon completion of the Cariboo Road, it was given its present name in honor of Henry Pelham Clinton, 5th Duke of Newcastle and the Colonial Secretary 1859-64.

Cache Creek

Cache Creek flows west into the Bonaparte River. Today the word 'cache' often refers to a place where supplies have been deposited on a raised platform out of reach from wild animals. The meaning of the word in French means "a hiding place," and the cache of an ealry fur trader was exactly that.


Ashcroft is south of Cache Creek. In 1862 Clement Francis Cornwall and his brother Henry Pennant Cornwall arrived in British Columbia. They established ranch, which they named Ashcroft after their family home in England. Ashcroft became a major stopping place for travellers between Kamloops and Spence's Bridge.


Kamloops is at the conjunction of the north and south Thompson Rivers. John Tod, the veteran H.B.C. man who took over Fort Kamloops in 1841 noted in his memoirs that the Aboriginal people called the place 'Kahm-o-loops', meaning the 'meeting of the waters'.

Spence's Bridge:

Spence's Bridge is located on the Fraser River. This settlement was originally known as Cook's Ferry, since a ferry was operated here by Mortimer Cook between 1862 and 1865. The ferry was replaced later by a toll bridge built under a government contract by Thomas Spence.

Anderson Lake:

Anderson Lake is west of Lillooet. Alexander Caulfield Anderson entered the service for the H.B.C. and arrived at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River in 1832. During the 1840s he made important explorations of the country between Fort Kamloops and Fort Langley. In 1858 Governor Douglas commissioned him to open up a route from the Lower Fraser River, via Harrison lake and Lillooet, to the upper Fraser River. Douglas was so pleased with this survey he suggested that Anderson give his own name to the lake, which was an important part of the route.


Lytton is situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers. Governor Douglas named the town of Lytton after Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), Secretary of State for the Colonies. He is remembered today cheifly as a novelist and dramatist. Among his work is The Last days of Pompeii.

Boston Bar:

Boston Bar is located in the Fraser Canyon. It was named because of the numerous Americans washing for gold in the bar in the Fraser River. Since the first American ships were almost always from Boston, the Natives took to calling the Americans "Boston men". Similarly the Natives called the British "King George men."


Spuzzum is located in the Fraser Canyon. It is derived from the Thompson Nation word meaning "little flat", with reference to the site of the settlement.


Victoria is located at the south end of Vancouver Island. Victoria was named after Her Majesty Queen Victoria (1819-1901), who came into throne in England in 1837.


Yale is located in the Fraser Canyon. Yale was named after James Murray Yale who entered service for the Hudsons Bay Company in 1815. He was at Fort Langley from 1828 to 1859. Yale was given the command of the fort in 1834 and was promoted to Chief Trader in 1844.

Port Douglas:

Port Douglas is at the head of Harrison Lake. Port Douglas came into its name in 1858 when Governor Douglas ordered work for a route to the Cariboo. Governor Douglas named it after himself.

Harrison Lake:

Harrison Lake is north of the Fraser Valley. It was named after Benjamin Harrison, who was a Quaker, and the deputy governor of the H.B.C. during 1835-39.


Hope is located in the Fraser Valley. Fort Hope was built in 1848-49 by Henry Newsham Peers, a clerk in service of the H.B.C. It was necessary to find a route between Fort Kamloops and Fort Langley without dipping under the 49th parallel (American Territory). The H.B.C. hoped that a trail through the mountains would be a feasible route. The route was found and the H.B.C. named it Fort Hope.

Fort Langley:

Fort Langley is located in the Fraser Valley. It is named after Thomas Langley, H.B.C. director (1800-30).

Thompson River:

The Thompson River joins the Fraser River at Lytton. It was named after David Thompson, the famous explorer, who actually never saw it. Simon Fraser gave it this name for Thompson who worked as an apprentice for the H.B.C.

Fraser River:

The Fraser River was named after Simon Fraser (1776?-1862). Fraser joined the North West Company in 1792, and was admitted a partner in 1802. The Fraser River was named after Simon Fraser in 1813 by David Thompson. By coincidence, the Thompson River was given it's name by Fraser.

Last updated November 30, 1998.
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