Our Community

The Wells-Barkerville Community Forest is managed by and for the residents of Wells, Barkerville, Bowron Lakes and Troll.

We are a mining community, an arts community, a centre for outdoor recreation, and, of course, the home of Barkerville Historic Town.

Until the early 1860s the area was the exclusive home of Dakelh (also known as Carrier), a Dene (Athapaskan) speaking people, but in 1862 the Dakelh community at Sas Ko (Bear Lake, now known as Bowron Lake) was eliminated by smallpox.

Barkerville, founded that same year during the Cariboo gold rush and situated about 80 kilometers east of Quesnel, is preserved as an authentic Historic Town with a lively interpretive program including gold rush period street characters and a gold rush era theatre, and attracts 10,000 visitors each year.

Established in the late 1950s, adjacent New Barkerville is home to about a score of people.

Gold prospecting and placer mining has continued throughout the area.

Wells, just eight kilometers west of Barkerville, was established in the 1930’s with the start of undergound hard rock mining for gold. The town population grew to about 4,000 but rapidly decreased when the main mines closed in the 1960s. The town transitioned to a home for Barkerville performers and developed a related and successful arts program ultimately spearheaded by Island Mountain Arts. Wells is now home to three art galleries, a local theatre company and the Arts Wells summer festival.

Continued mineral exploration has led in recent years to a proposal to resume underground hard rock mining and a new influx of geologists, drillers and related staff. Wells now has a population of about 200.

Bowron Lake, just 25 kilometers north of Barkerville, is the start and end point for the Bowron Lakes canoe circuit, another attraction for visitors from around the world. Bowron Lake and Bowron River is home to about 50 people.

Troll, situated 25 kilometers west of Wells, is the site of the family owned and operated Ski Troll Resort, started in 1972, and is home to about a dozen people.

While we are known for gold, the arts and outdoor recreation, the forests have always been important to the communities of the area.

Dakelh used wood for house construction and heat, tree roots and other plant fibres for twine, a wide variety of plants for foods and medicines, and relied heavily on the forest’s animals for fur and meat.

From the beginning of the gold rush wood from the forest was used intensively. Wood was used in mine shafts and tunnels, to construct homes, stores, hotels and other buildings, and was the sole source of heat during the long, cold winters. An extensive system of wood trestles carried water from higher elevation lakes and creeks to “the diggings”.

Small sawmills were continually being replaced by larger ones and by the 1960s logs were being trucked to the large mills in Quesnel.

Finally, in 2014 the Wells-Barkerville Community Forest was established.