Barkerville stakes its Canadian Claim on Canada Day

Thanks to financial support from the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Legacy Fund, as well as a generous donation from the Friends of Barkerville and Cariboo Historical Society, Barkerville Historic Town cut the ribbon on a newly restored outdoor exhibit this past July 1st weekend: The Canadian Claim and Gunn Hydraulic Pit.

The exhibit, which highlights the gold mining efforts of two separate placer operations, the Canadian claim (a typical 1860s cabin and shaft set-up for underground diggings) and the Gunn pit (a later-century hydraulic process involving long pipes and large water monitors for blasting surface gravels through sluice boxes) was originally built by the Friends of Barkerville in the early-1980s.

After nearly 30 years of wear and tear, including wintertime snowfalls averaging 25 feet per season, Barkerville realized it was time to bring a fresh focus to the display. In 2012, during the National Historic Site’s 150th anniversary year, the Barkerville Heritage Trust partnered with the Friends of Barkerville and Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society to begin restoration work on the Canadian Claim and Gunn Hydraulic Pit. Soon afterwards the Department of Canadian Heritage and its Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Legacy Fund was on-board and two years later the fully-restored and improved exhibit officially opened on Dominion Day (or, Canada Day) in 2014.

“As we approach Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, our Government wants Canadians to be able to explore and learn about their history, as well as the important events—like British Columbia’s Cariboo gold rush —that have shaped it,” said the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. “That is why we are pleased to have supported the restoration of Barkerville’s Canadian Claim, which will give residents and visitors a chance to explore the region’s mining heritage.”

The Canadian Claim and Gunn Hydraulic Pit exhibit in Barkerville is open for interactive viewing throughout the heritage site’s regular operating season. In addition to the cabin and shaft display and hydraulic mining set-up, there is also a series of interconnected viewing platforms, complete with interpretive signage, placed strategically along the hillside that allow visitors – through several flights of hand-hewn stairs – to experience Barkerville in an entirely new way: from overhead.

“For me, one of the more exciting things about our newly-restored exhibit is the opportunity to view the entire town of Barkerville from the top-down,” said James Douglas, Barkerville’s Manager of Visitor Experiences. “It’s a glorious way to see the tremendous scope of our site from several different angles, and will no doubt be a boon for amateur photographers and any visitor who wants to see Barkerville in a whole new way.”

For more information about The Canadian Claim and Gunn Hydraulic Pit, or any of Barkerville’s exhibits and displays, please contact Barkerville Historic Town at 1-888-994-3332, or email

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