It was a weekend filled with surprise and delight during Barkerville’s 150th anniversary

Barkerville 150All hail the Queen! A surprise turn of events in the 2012 Canadian National Gold Panning Championships saw the weekend’s “King of the Creek” grand prize contest rechristened “Queen of the Creek,” much to the delight of nearly 350 participants in eleven competition categories, and more than 2000 visitors to Barkerville Historic Town.

Karen St. John, local owner and operator of the Northwoods Restaurant in nearby Wells, British Columbia, bested professional gold-panners from across the country to claim the $1000.00 cash prize and a $1500.00 high bank sluice (courtesy of Greywolf Highbankers) at Sunday’s championship match. St. John found seven gold nuggets in quick succession, using a 14-inch metal pan laced with some of the toughest gravel, clay and dirt found anywhere on the competition circuit.

“If you want bragging rights to call yourself King or Queen of Williams Creek, you’ve got to know you’ll be dealing with some of the nastiest panning material around,” said event organizer Scott Rea, who is himself a six-time World Invitational Gold Panning Champion. “We don’t fool around in Barkerville; you’ve got to go through what the original prospectors went through here in the 1860s, using the same kind of gold pan… and no compromises.”

Presented by Integris Credit Union, the 2012 Canadian National Gold Panning Championships was the signature event at Barkerville’s 150th anniversary celebrations August 11th and 12th. The two-day event drew hundreds of gold-seekers and thousands of spectators from all over the world, some of whom signed up for the competition themselves once they saw how much fun contestants were having.

“I have only gold-panned twice in my life,” said Stewart Cawood, a late entry in the Adult division. “Once before with a friend and this time just now.”

“I found three of my four flakes,” he added. “So even though I didn’t win… I feel pretty proud of myself.”

In addition to Karen St. John’s stunning “King of the Creek” victory, “Yukon” Dan Moore took first place in the Pro division, Dale Harkness swept the Seniors event, Vanya Plotnikoff scooped up top honours in the Adult division, Alex Ninow won the Children’s heat (and a brand new Razor electric scooter) and the Open competition went to Dave Coupland.

Special thanks to Integris Credit Union, Presenting Sponsor of the 2012 Canadian National Gold Panning Championships, as well as Community Sponsor (and event organizers) Eldorado Gold & Gifts, Community Supporters The District of Wells and Wells Chamber of Commerce, and Radio Sponsor 94X Prince George.

For more information about the 2012 Canadian National Gold Panning Championships, or any of Barkerville’s 150th anniversary events, please visit