After my 10 hour bus trip, I arrived in Quesnel at 6.30 pm and was pleased to find that my hotel was located just across the parking lot of the Greyhound station. I'd checked in to the Billy Barker Inn & Casino for two nights. www.billybarkercasino.com The very name of the hotel intrigued me and fit along with my planned adventure to Barkerville. William (Billy) Barker was the prospector famous for being one of the first to find a large amount of gold at Williams Creek where the town of Barkerville was established.
The hotel is built to look like the paddle wheelers that once plied the Fraser during the gold rush of the late 1800's. It's red smoke stack is visible from almost any corner of the town so once I went out exploring there wasn't much chance of getting 'lost'. My pleasant little room was decorated in furnishings from the turn of the century really giving me a sense of being 'back in time'.
Quesnel is a pleasant little town, a perfect place to stop over if you are en route to Barkerville. From here I'll take a shuttle service into the old gold mining town. If you don't have a car, the shuttle service is the only transportation into Barkerville.
My first venture was to walk about and explore the location and I was delighted to find that there are many options for exploring, something that came in very useful on my last day there when I had unfortunately missed my bus home and had to kill six hours browsing the town.
The town of Quesnel got it's name from Jule Maurice Quesnel who accompanied Simon Fraser (after whom the river is named) on his explorations down the Fraser River to the Pacific Ocean. It was originally known as Quesnellemouth to distinguish it from "Quesnel Forks" farther up the river, but by 1900 it was shortened to Quesnel. As it was situated on the gold mining trail known as the Cariboo Wagon Road, it became the commercial centre of the Cariboo Gold Rush. It is also the end of the Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail and was an important landing spot for the stern wheelers that plied the river.
Ceal Tingley Park, where you'll find the Quesnel Visitor's Bureau, is the site of Simon Fraser's camp.
I took the walk along the heritage trail by the river. There are markers along the way pointing out interesting historical information and locations. The river trail is good for cyclists and joggers too, and I met friendly people along the way, stopping now and then to enjoy the view and the day's warm sunshine.
There are displays of old equipment located along the heritage walk. These are at one of the entrances to the path.
While browsing the town I also discovered several heritage buildings. One of them was this church and the other was the Hudson Bay Company store.
There are many things to discover in Quesnel and even though I was upset for missing my bus on that last day there, I don't regret the opportunity it gave me to explore more of the town. I even found a perfect place to rest the last hour before finally catching the bus home.
NEXT: MY CARIBOO ROAD TRIP, part three: WHERE IN THE WORLD IS WELLS?