The Road to Barkerville

Abandoned Church

Abandoned Church Along The Road To Barkerville.

I always knew I was fond of all things abandoned – old isolated farm houses were the most popular playgrounds of my childhood. I didn’t know then (or even until recently) that there was such thing as a ‘Ghost Town-er’, but certainly that is one of the things I have become.

Our latest destination – Barkerville, is unquestionably the most famous of the remaining ghost towns in British Columbia – if not all of Canada. It is a long tour to get there at more than 9 hours north by car, from Vancouver – a fact that hasn’t impeded its popularity.

Arid Landscape Winding North

Off we headed, north on the old Trans Canada Hwy. We followed the Fraser River (‘our’ river – because our home floats on it!), until the Lytton area, where we forked to the right and followed the Thompson.

This region, the Fraser Canyon, is considered to be desert – and is very different from the vibrant green and overly treed area I come from near Vancouver.

The very few lone trees stand out in stark contrast to the arid, brushy, sunburnt landscape. It looks like a western movie set to me – a John Wayne film or something.

Lone Tree Desert Fields

Ranches litter the route. Expansive land with cattle roaming, horses grazing and the occasional visiting deer. It is a good idea to take advantage of any services you might need when you see them. They are few – and a little far between – in this area.

According to;

Lytton was a service & supply centre during the 1860’s gold rush as hopeful miners headed north to Barkerville.

We were following the original gold rush route! It is impossibly hard for me to imagine doing it by foot, horse or stagecoach, but that’s exactly what thousands of people did, on the promise of making it rich.

Field and Falls Falls over the Train


Early in the gold rush when there was no route to the creeks, each party entered the wilderness and travelled along the route they felt was best. As more and more men pressed northward, trails were gradually formed through the bush.

Though there are valleys and flatlands, the terrain is rough and it would have taken some of the earliest travellers months to break through to Barkerville.

As time passed an entrepreneurial man started a stagecoach company called ‘Barnard’s Express‘. You can read more about the fascinating history of BC gold rush stage coaches at wikipedia.

Old Church

Along the way, before Ashcroft, there are a pile of fascinating abandoned structures. Farms and work houses, churches and even a whole row of single family structures.

As much as I researched, I was unable to find out any information about the sites.

Abandoned Swingset

I would love to know why the row of homes were abandoned, and when. I am sure there is a story somewhere, I just haven’t been able to find it.

Their location isn’t completely isolated – they are not far from the town of Ashcroft. They don’t look to be too old, and aren’t in the worst shape – I am ready to move in!

Ashcroft Abandoned Housing Quaint Abandoned Homes Ashcroft

We were hungry now and not far from Ashcroft. It was time to make a stop and grab a bite.


Thanks to Susan of ArtsandCraftsBungalow, we have some answers! From;

According to the Ashcroft Museum, the site was originally a forestry camp, but became an army station during the Second World War–a communications station, presumably.

Hmm. A forestry camp – in an area with a distinct lack of trees! I am sure there was some strategic reasoning that made sense at the time.

The buildings are constructed in the ‘Dutch Colonial’ genre – a common style used at the time by the Ministry of Transportation and the Provincial Department of Lands. Some records say they were built in the early 1940’s while others suggest 1919-ish.

They were considered at the time to be very affordable, at about $2,500 each. The Dutch style homes are scattered throughout Vancouver as well, part of the old Federal ‘Better Housing Scheme’ meant to provide affordable housing for veterans and widows of the WWI.

After reading all of the currently available material, I am still missing one important piece of information – why were they abandoned? I may just have to make a stop into the Ashcroft Museum to find out – the next time we pass by.

Additional photos in the slideshow.

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You can follow this tour by heading to the ‘Gold Rush Ghost Towns‘ section. Many more photos at the Habitual Runaway on Facebook.


9 responses to “The Road to Barkerville

    • I think it odd too – and it drives me nuts that I couldn’t find out why! It is very beautiful landscape – quite something to tour through 🙂


  1. Barkerville is one of the finest in its class, along with Louisburg. They are equalled, perhaps somewhat surpassed, by KIngs Landing in New Brunswick. All surpass Williamsburg in Virginia.


  2. My husband’s family has lived in Cache Creek/Ashcroft area for over 40 years. The row houses were originally a forestry camp, but became an communications army station during the Second World War. When we lived in Ashcroft in the early 1980’s there were people still living in the homes–if I remember they were road crew workers or perhaps forestry people. For more information try:
    Old Dwellings by Ashcroft Manor
    Ashcroft museum can provide more information if you’re looking for it.


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