The Cariboo Waggon Road was a hot topic in the 108 Mile Ranch Community Centre on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
A community information meeting was organized by The New Pathways to Gold Society (NPTGS) and partners that ran from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
More than 45 residents gathered to discuss the “historical marvel” that played a role in defining British Columbia during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
“It was a fabulous evening,” said Don Hauka, communication director for the New Pathways to Gold Society. “Everybody was engaged and had all sorts of good ideas or shared stories and anecdotes about the road.”
The project will restore intact and accessible sections of the road throughout communities from Yale to Barkerville. Since 2009, NPTGS has restored or built 230 km of the heritage trail with help from First Nations and communities along the route.
“We can see it becoming a world-class destination,” Don Hauka said during his presentation to local residents at the 108 Mile Ranch Community [Centre]. “The history is quite recent and it is neat to be able to reach out and get those personal experiences from people.”
“If we do this right and work together, we can make a difference in the lives of those in the communities from Yale to Barkerville.”
Hauka said the project will be completed in phases with the first close to completion. Phase one included the mapping of the road on GPS and consultations with First Nations, local communities and businesses. A restoration prescription will follow for each identified section of the wagon road. NPTGS has been able to identify prime sections of the road between Clinton and Lac la Hache.
“People have an emotional and personal connection with the trail,” said Hauka. “It takes them right back into time, to the excitement of the gold rush and the millennia of First Nations trade and travel that was on that road – there is so much history. People want to say they walked in the footsteps of their ancestors. You have to look at other world-class trails. They are big economic generators.”
The prime sections of the road will be developed into trails. The trails may feature paths for bikes, signage and amenities like picnic tables and outhouses.
One resident in attendance on Wednesday suggested making the trails multi-use while another suggested incorporating pieces of history along the trails, like an old wagon.
The completion date for the project has yet to be determined, but in the meantime, NPTGS will continue to seek out the opinions and ideas of the public.
“We feel like we have the potential to create something very special here that will draw people in from around the world.”