Debates of the Senate  
  2nd Session, 39th Parliament,Volume 144, Issue 19.
    Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Barkerville, British Columbia
  Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, in July I had the pleasure of providing opening remarks for the fourth International Conference on Indigenous Education: Asia/Pacific Regions, hosted by the Centre for International Academic Exchange, First Nations University of Canada. Lily Chow, one of the speakers at the conference, told me of the importance Barkerville, B.C., has in Chinese-Canadian history.

Located in the Cariboo region of British Columbia, it is one of the largest historic sites in western North America. Barkerville is rich in Chinese-Canadian history and was established as a gold mining town in 1862 at the height of the Cariboo Gold Rush. It is the only museum in B.C., if not all of Canada, that retains the characteristics of an early gold mining town.

Barkerville has very good collections of artifacts and interpretive programs that reflect the history of the gold rush period. It commemorates the lives of thousands of people who came from all over the world to search for gold. One of the largest migrations was from Guangdong province in southern China; many came from Kaiping, the area of China that my father came from.

As an historic site and museum, Barkerville's resources are extraordinary. There are 135 heritage structures dating from 1869 standing in the same places they were built. There are two historic cemeteries, as well as large pieces of mining equipment and landscape features such as hydraulic pits, ditches and mine dumps. Barkerville has 187,000 objects, including over 20,000 photographs in its archival collection.

Barkerville has the oldest and largest collection of Chinese buildings and artifacts in North America, including the largest collection of pre-1900 written documents that are specific to North American activities and the oldest Chee Kung Tong building in Canada, which has been nominated for national designation.

Honourable senators, designated as a Provincial Heritage Site in 1958, Barkerville is a national treasure that lives on for all Canadians.