Walk through the gates of Barkerville Historic Town and Park this weekend, and you’ll find yourself in a real winter wonderland as the town celebrates an Old Fashioned Victorian Christmas.
Many merchants are open and activities are planned for the Old Fashioned Victorian Christmas, which takes place this Saturday to Monday, Dec. 8-10. Barkerville is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, and admission is by monetary donation or a donation of non-perishable food bank items.
“The thing about coming to Barkerville for the Victorian Christmas, it is like stepping into Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but with a slightly western feel,” says James Douglas, Barkerville’s public programming and global media development lead. “It’s a true, authentic, immersive Victorian experience – it just happens to be a Victorian village that’s nestled amongst these snow-filled trees.
“It’s a beautiful experience just to come and walk around the site at that time. But there’s a lot of cool things that happen.”
Throughout the weekend, there will be a miniature display in the Visitor’s Reception Centre, and many merchants will be open, including Goldfield Bakery, Mason and Daly General Merchants, C. Strouss and Company Dry Goods, McMahon’s Confectionery, The Kelly House, St. George Hotel, Cameron and Ames Blacksmith, A. McPherson Watchmaker and Jeweller and The King House.
Each day between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., visitors can have their photo taken with Father Christmas and taste home baking in the Wendle House. There will be a history-filled guided tour along the main street each day at 11 a.m.
“We have sleigh rides though the Barnard’s Express coach, and we have on Saturday and Sunday two performances each day by different choirs from Quesnel,” says Douglas. “I also do on all three days a one-man dramatic reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Methodist Church, which is always really fun to do.”
The dramatic readings take place at 1 p.m. at the Methodist Church, and admission is a suggested donation of $5 per person.
The Q City Singers will perform at the Methodist Church Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., while the Aka Bella Singers, an a capella female choir, will perform Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Methodist Church.
“That’s always really popular,” says Douglas. “We’ve had to increase it because so many people wanted to come last year; we only had one concert each day, but now we are doing two to ensure that as many people as possible get to see that.”
Douglas is looking forward to a few new activities this year.
“One is that our Father Christmas photographs, which have traditionally been in a variety of places all around Barkerville. [This year,] Louis A. Blanc Photographic Gallery, the photography studio in Barkerville, is taking on the photography sessions for our Father Christmas,” he says. “So it will be something unlike anywhere else. There will be costumes available, people can dress up in Victorian yuletide costumes and get their photo taken with a very authentic-looking Father Christmas with a really great backdrop. It’s going to be amazing.”
As well, the Goldfield Bakery is offering workshops for “all sorts of things made out of gingerbread,” such as gingerbread men, houses and trees, says Douglas.
The Old Fashioned Victorian Christmas weekend also marks the tentative opening date of the Shamrock Tube Run at Barkerville, although this will depend on snowfall.
“Provided there will be enough snow – we will know by Thursday – we are hoping to open the Shamrock Tube Run,” says Douglas. “It was looking as though there would be enough [snow], and there still might be.”
The Shamrock Tube Run offers conveyor lift access to two tube runs and more than 400 feet of snow sliding. Included in your lift pass is a bonfire, snow tubes and helmet rentals.
Limited helmet sizes are available. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own helmets. No child is permitted to tube or skate without a helmet without the consent of their legal guardian.
Kids of all ages and abilities can safely enjoy the Tube Run, but children under 42 inches or 107 centimetres in height may only go down the Tube Run on the lap of an adult. Under-height children must also be accompanied up the conveyor by an adult.
In the winter, the Shamrock Tube Run is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Barkerville Café and Gift Store is open Friday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the Pavilion Ice Rink is open Friday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. From Friday to Monday during opening hours, there are also ice skates and snowshoes for adults and children and kick sleds available for rent.
Shamrock Tube Run lift passes are $16 for adults, $14 for youth aged six to 18 and free for children younger than six, who must be accompanied by a paid adult.
For more information, visit barkerville.ca.
With files from Melanie Law