CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF LOWER MAINLAND : Barkerville

The cultural aspect of a nation is very much embedded in its historical background, hence, discussing about the cultural significance of a nation in its entirety, or with specific reference to certain parts of it, cannot be done justifiably by means of divorcing it from the historical past. The situations prevailing and the incidents having taken place in the past, leads to the answer as to why a particular place seems so in the present times. Thus from this explanation it becomes clear that the landscape of a place is very much relevant to the cultural backdrop of it, and it is a reflection of the values, aspirations and tastes of the people associated with it, as well. For the purpose of analyzing the cultural background of a place through the understanding of the values, aspirations and tastes of the people associated with it, Bakersville has been chosen. It is a historical town which has was set up during the period of the Gold Rush, and its present glory speaks voluminously of its rich past studded with prosperity.

Gold Rush Towns are to be found in the present day Canada at various places across the nation, and Barkerville is one of them, whose history and culture emanates from the root of its origin, the gold trade. In totality there are 33 Gold Rush Towns in British Columbia, and Barkerville is one of the most iconic of all of them given the fact that it has still maintained its cultural past to a great extent, without getting tarnished by the ravages of the time. This makes Barkerville to be chosen for the purpose of analyzing its historical and cultural aspect on the basis of the chosen landscape, an ideal one. The heritage buildings from the past, the shopping stores, cafés and restaurants speak virbrantly of its past and cultural significance which seems to have been frozen in time. Today Barkerville is a preserved town whose heritage value is upheld and is maintained like it used to be in the past.

Etymologically, Barkerville traces its origin to the person named William Billy Barker, who had laid his claim to the area downstream beginning from Richfield in the year 1862, and from then the town had been attracting great loads of people from various parts of the world as well as from Canada itself to earn a good fortune from the Fraser River Gold Rush which had begun from the year 1850. Barkerville was named after William Billy Barker, who himself was an immigrant from England, and he had discovered the town which had led to the extraction of 5 million ounces of gold ore from the Cariboo mines ("HistoricPlaces.ca - HistoricPlaces.ca", 2020). Located in British Columbia, Barkerville is situated in the South Western part of Canada, which shares a common border with the United States of America. With the discovery of the town and its prosperity hidden in form of gold ores, Barkerville had become a hotspoy for immigrants from various destinations across the world. The most notable ones being the Chinese who had immigrated from the Guangdong province of China, and they formed almost half the population of the entire town. The Chinese immigrants had apart from working as miners, also set up shops, restaurants and had even set up establishments to showcase and sell their cultural artefacts. Not just the Chinese, the Americans from California; the Blacks seeking quality life and freedom from oppression, the Australians, the Mexicans, various European nationalities and even various communities of the First Nation, namely the Tsimshian, Haida, Lillooet Interior Salish and Carrier had flocked to Barkerville in search of opportunities to have a better livelihood. As per the legends, the town had been gutted by fire in the year 1868, which was built in one night itself, and was later rebuilt in an extremely orderly fashion with streets being made wider for facilitating movement of vehicles. The new Barkerville was built over a period of six months, and it was possible because of the riches earned from the gold mining rush ("Barkerville Historic Town & Park", 2020). From the perspective of culture, the Barkerville town had a cosmopolitan culture and people belonging to various cultural and linguistic backgrounds had lived in harmony with each other as their sole intentention was to earn as much as revenues from the town. Not just mining and gold ore extraction, the town had become a hot bed of various commercial activities such as setting up of eateries and recreational centres, all of which was aimed at deriving the maximum amount of benefit from the ones who directly thrived on the mining activities. This particular feature can be witnessed in the architecture of the buildings of the towns, which can be described as having false fronted shanties housing business of all types, as shown in the image above, catering to the needs of the one earning from the riches of the mining industry, such as hotel, restaurant, store, dance hall, saloon, billiard room, bowling alley and gambling house. The town has even witnessed the two world wars and gradually the town had been evacuated because of the slowing of the mining activities ("Barkerville | historical town, British Columbia, Canada", 2020). In the year 1932, acknowledging its heritage status, thr Government of Canada had invested in its restoration, and the lack of equipments which had put the mining activity to a halt, has been resumed with the help of modern machineries. This goes as far as the historical background of Barkerville is concerned, and this account contains the most vital informations needed for the analysis of the culture of the place and the nation in general ("Barkerville | The Canadian Encyclopedia", 2020).

Firstly, Barkerville is a microcosmic representation of the fact that Canada is a multicultural nation, and most of its current population are from immigrant background, who speak different languages, cherish different kind of cuisines, and wear different types of clothes, yet they all are Canadians in the sense that the nation accepts all persons who want to indulge in industrious pursuits. Thus Barkerville is a mini projection of what Canada is in general, and also respresentative of the fact that Canadian resources have been discovered, utilized and used for the purpose of building the nation. Despite having people coming from various parts of the world, Canada or Barkerville cannot be called to have been drained of its resources by the foreigners. People from various nationalities have definitely come to Canada and have led to the displacement of the indegenous people of Canada, the people of the First Nation, but the resources have not been carried away to the nation of the various foreigners settling in Barkerville or Canada. It is true that the history of Canada is wrought with displacement of the indegenous people, but the prosperity of the nation and Barkerkerville has been a result of the enterprise of the various foreigners, all of whom have eventually laid a claim to Canadian national identity (Pollock, 2018).

Secondly, it can be said that the culture of Barkerville and Canada in general can be called to be highly commercial in nature. Also the restoration of the Barkerville after the fire and the decision of the Canadian government to preserve the heritage town of Barkerville shows not just the consciousness about preserving the past but also the economic capacity as well. In terms of the economic capacity to preserve the past, Barkerville once again is a microcosmic expression of what Canada is in general. Barkerville could not be restored had had it not been endowed with riches to do so and so is the logic applicable for Canadian government as it has the economic capacity to preserve the cultural heritage of the past and gain further revenues through it (Dawson, 2017).

Thus at the concluding section of the reflective landscape analysis it can be said that culturally, in terms of the values and on an overall basis, Barkerville is a reflection of what Canada is today, and vice versa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Barkerville Historic Town & Park. (2020). Retrieved 29 March 2020, from https://www.barkerville.ca/

Barkerville | The Canadian Encyclopedia. (2020). Retrieved 29 March 2020, from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/barkerville

Barkerville | historical town, British Columbia, Canada. (2020). Retrieved 29 March 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/place/Barkerville

Dawson, M. (2017). Bradley, Ben–British Columbia by the Road: Car Culture and the Making of a Modern Landscape. Histoire sociale/Social History, 50(102).

Google, (2020). Retrieved 29 March 2020, from https://www.google.co.in/search?q=barkerville+canada&client=ucweb-b-bookmark&prmd=minv&sxsrf=ALeKk03dKpZY_GcV0agcvurcBtD2ssb7YA:1585506828750&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi21cOaqcDoAhUS6nMBHYp5AZUQ_AUoAnoECBsQAg#imgrc=iCnBzF5vfANqiM

HistoricPlaces.ca - HistoricPlaces.ca. (2020). Retrieved 29 March 2020, from https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=1749

Pollock, J. (2018). Building representation: The development of Barkerville Historic Town & Park’s Chinese narrative (Doctoral dissertation, Environment: Department of Archaeology).

 

 

 

 

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