I arrived at Barkerville, to deliver a piece of BC’s history, thus fulfilling a dead man’s last request.
I arrived much later than originally planned, when I had foreseen a day long trip, up and back, from Vancouver. It was now after dark, too late to turn the artifact over to Barkervilles curator, but too early to try and catch an uncomfortable rest in my truck. I was drawn to the main entrance, as it was still well lit, and I could see various pamphlets, and a site map, from where I sat in the empty parking lot. I was suprised to discover that Barkerville was so well preserved, and amazed at how fascinated I became at the history it embodied. I was not suprised to find that it was the off season, as it was very cold, and so very close to snowing.
I was very suprised to discover a small notice attached to the bulletin board, that said rooms were available at the St Georges Hotel, as a bed and breakfast. Carrie and I walked around the main building, and found the service entrance to Barkerville was open, but the main street was almost pitch black. We assumed the notice was out of date, and prepared to leave, when we heard music, almost indiscernable through the wind that was now peppering us with snowflakes. We agreed to press on, and did so, with the aid of a very small, yet sufficient, flashlight. As we ventured down main street Barkerville, neither of us spoke, there was no way to express the feeling that we were not alone, the ghosts from the gold rush, watched our progress on this cold winters night. (I felt that there was an otherworldly prescence, and it knew why we were there – to return the woodstove of the “hanging judge” Judge Begbe, a prominant figure from that era)
the music grew louder, (later we found out it was some resident artists practising in the town hall) and suddenly we saw a 2 story building with lights on inside, pale, yellow, welcoming light. I think I jumped a foot when someone walked by in front of the window. We then realized it was the St Georges hotel, and there was 3 or 4 people clearly visible from the street, they appeared to be sitting in antique furniture, and the lighting was apparently coming from some very old lamps. To me, the scene spelled
C-O-Z-Y, and we were C-O-L-D, and after we debated our next move, we both swallowed our apprehension, and our shyness, and went in. I remember turning the handle and opening the door. It was as though we were transported back in time. The door closed behind us, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of being caught in a Rod Serling “twilight zone”. That lasted all of 2 seconds.
We were greeted warmly by the hotels proprietor(ess)Saya, and she informed us that there was 1 room available, and the price. At first, we did the odd thing that partners do when making a decision, eyes locked, not a word is spoken, yet there seems to be a mutual calculation, and we accepted. (actually, Carrie checked her wallet, and let me take the credit) We were shown a room, and left to ourselves for a moment. The room was something that seemed to exist only in peoples memories. The wallpaper, seemed new, yet old. the huge bed, with multiple sheets, and big down comforter, almost swallowed me up when I laid down. I hadn’t been on a bed like that since my Grandma’s, 40 odd years ago. Saya returned and took our orders for breakfast, and invited us down for refreshments and a bite to eat with the others. First we went to collect our few items from the truck. I recall the feeling as we walked down the street to my truck. I was relaxed, releived somehow, and couldn’t beleive how I felt free, far away from all the pressures that had dogged me right to the doorstep of the St Georges.
That evening, we enjoyed exchanging stories with, and learning about, 2 couples from Vancouver Island, and a couple from Germany. The hotel keeper answered many questions about the hotels history, as well as Barkervilles past. Before we knew it, it was long past midnight, and we had to absolutely force ourselves to say goodnight.
I have no words to describe how much we enjoyed our room, our sleep, or our breakfast the next morniing. I have never slept in a museum before, I can’t remember a more fitful sleep, and I have truthfully, never enjoyed a breakfast more. I even finished Carries, there was too much for her, and I don’t normally eat in the morning, and very little if any.
What began as a quick trip, became a vacation. A 2 day break, in a long stretch of work and more work. I haven’t had a vacation in a long time, but I never had one I enjoyed more. 2 days in Barkerville, was like 2 weeks anywhere else. And one night at the St George, was a night that has yet to be equalled in my life.
- Stayed September 2006, travelled as a couple