Videos promoting the auction lots were hosted by a time travelling Mr. Charles Hankin and Mr. Billy Barker, from Barkerville Historic Town & Park. (Facebook)

Wells Historical Society goes virtual for successful auction

‘Billy Baker’ and ‘Charles Hankin’ introduced lots in online videos viewed thousands of times

What do you do if your organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year is cancelled because of a global pandemic?

If you’re James Douglas and the Wells Historical Society, you pull out a video camera, and put it online.

The Wells Historical Society’s 2020 auction finished on Aug. 8, raising nearly $2,500 for the society, as much as it does in person.

“We didn’t think we were even going to run an auction this year,” Wells Museum coordinator Jordan Kerr said. “Even if only one of our 35 lots had sold, it’s still more than we had thought we were going to make.”

Kerr credited Douglas’ daily videos for helping drive interest in the auction, which saw buyers from Victoria, Prince George and Vancouver.

“I went in not expecting much, and I’ve just been blown away by the support that we’ve had,” she said.

The updates, hosted by ‘Billy Barker’ and ‘Charles Hankin’ were viewed thousands of times on Facebook.

Here is a HUGE thank you to all of the donors for the 2020 Wells Historical Society Auction, featuring your auction…

Posted by Wells Historical Society Auction 2020 on Sunday, August 9, 2020

Douglas, who has a background in film, said the videos turned into science fiction. They also leaned on their experiences producing live programming when Barkerville was completely closed during the beginning of the pandemic.

“The first one was a basic comedy sketch,” he said. “Through a series of happy accidents we wound up improvising this crazy inter-dimentional time travel story that got weirder and weirder with every go.”

The videos tried to capture the tone of what Douglas called a “comedy auction” in normal times.

“We’re accustomed to volunteering one night out of the year to do the auction, and this one ended up being two weeks of solid work, but we wouldn’t trade it,” he said. “We were having a lot of goofy fun and hoped that translated.”

READ MORE: Wells Museum part of National Trust’s historic places selfie contest

The Wells Museum is open Friday to Monday until the end of August.

The videos are available on the auction’s Facebook page,

READ MORE: Barkerville set to re-open in phases

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