One of the things I enjoy the most about writing historical romance – along with writing about love, of course! – is doing the research. Accurate research was especially important when I wrote Barkerville Beginnings, Book 4 of the Canadian Historical Brides Collection issued by BWL Publishing in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. The participating authors were instructed to write a story that combined fact with fiction. The challenge was on! I chose to write about Barkerville as I visited there a couple of times while on vacation.
Barkerville was a gold rush town in the interior of British Columbia that sprang up in the 1850’s. During its heyday. it was thought to be the largest town west of Chicago however, now it’s a ghost town and known as the Historic Townsite of Barkerville. Here I am on main street and below that is the Barkerville church:
During the early days of the Cariboo Gold Rush, getting there presented a serious challenge to the miners as Barkerville was located 400 miles north and east of Yale. Thick underbrush clogged the mountainous route and some of the mountain passes still had five feet of snow in April. Parts of the journey north were extremely dangerous and horses and their owners would often fall to their deaths over the mountains or drown in the swift and deep waters of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers. Below you can see the Fraser River and how high the road was built to traverse the Fraser Canyon:
However, the success of the gold fields and the great influx of people made it necessary to improve access. The governor at that time, Governor James Douglas, determined that a safe road was required and the Royal Engineers were engaged for the task. In October of 1861, Colonel Richard Clement Moody recommended that the Yale to Barkerville route through the Fraser Canyon be built for the benefit of the country. The Royal Engineers assessed the route and suggested it be built in sections: Yale to Spuzzum, Spuzzum to Lytton, Lytton to the Lillooet Junction, Lillooet to Fort Alexandria, and Quesnel to Barkerville. It was a particularly difficult section to construct because of mud, swamp and fallen trees. You can still see a portion of the original road outside of Lytton:
When it was completed, some people called it the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Rose, a young single mother running from her vengeful ex, and Harrison, a young viscount running from scandal, are the two main characters in Barkerville Beginnings. They meet on the final section of the road between Quesnel to Barkerville.
Intrigued? You can find Barkerville Beginnings HERE.
Or better yet, check out all the great titles in the collection! HERE