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COVID-19: Barkerville postpones opening date

Barkerville Historic Town and Park and Cottonwood House Historic Site hope to open June 18
Queen Victoria arrives in Barkerville during the 2019 Victoria Day Weekend Celebrations. Barkerville Historic Town and Park typically opens in mid-May, but this year, due to COVID-19, the opening day has been pushed to June 18. (Quesnel Cariboo Observer file photo)

The opening dates for both Barkerville Historic Town and Park and Cottonwood House Historic Site are being pushed forward a month amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to changing dynamics as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, the board of directors of the Barkerville Heritage Trust — Barkerville and Cottonwood’s managing partner with the Government of B.C. — voted unanimously this week to move the planned opening dates of both heritage sites from May 14 to June 18. This applies to their respective campgrounds and service amenities as well.

Until then, Barkerville and Cottonwood House will remain closed for visitation, but they have plans to provide imaginative and historically interpretive educational programming to school groups and the general public from cyberspace.

“The Trust’s guiding principles are to follow health authority orders, provide safe employment for staff, safe customer experiences for guests and innovative delivery of our services,” Ed Coleman, Chief Executive Officer for Barkerville and Cottonwood House, said in an April 9 news release. “By repositioning the opening of our 2020 season, we can ensure these principles are adhered to as we continue to preserve, protect and showcase the cultural assets of Barkerville and Cottonwood throughout this unprecedented global situation.”

Starting May 15, Barkerville Historic Town and Park and Cottonwood House Historic Site plan to broadcast live, interactive heritage experiences for school children and adult learners through a mixture of web-based platforms as a means of connecting online visitors with the significant heritage resources of both locations while staff maintain safe social distances. Details about the proposed online experiences will be announced in the coming weeks.

Barkerville had previously announced it was cancelling its Easter Weekend Celebrations due to COVID-19.

Barkerville has a streetscape of more than 125 heritage buildings, displays, satellite museums, restaurants, shops and accommodations and is considered the largest living-history museum in western North America. It was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1924 and a Provincial Heritage Property in 1958.

Cottonwood House was built in the 1860s as a road house along the Cariboo Wagon Road, and it became a designated provincial historic site in 1963. Much of the site was closed in 2019, as it received many capital upgrades.

The new opening date for Barkerville and Cottonwood House will be reassessed, and any further decision on opening will be made no later than June 4, according to the news release.

READ MORE: WATCH NOW: Going back in time for Family Day at Barkerville

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