Barriere Heritage Tour participants looking east towards the current North Thompson River Bridge from the Petererson-Betts Road where some of the original pillons from the old bridge are still visible at low water times. A large map showing historic photos of the area can be seen on the left hand side of the photograph. (Margaret Houben photo)

North Thompson Museum hosts first Heritage Tour in Barriere

The first Barriere Heritage Tour, hosted by the North Thompson Heritage Society, took place on Tuesday, July 23.

After an extensive amount of research and information gathering by Society members and staff, the much anticipated event was finally a reality, thanks to the grand support and input provided beforehand by many residents of the area.

Twenty-two people participated in the much-awaited tour, including Society board members, as well as the museum’s summer students, Caleb Cartwright and Chant Copley.

Heritage Society board member Donna Kibble reported, “It was a great success with a great turnout. We met at the North Thompson Musuem and drove to our first stop, the original site of “The old bridge over the North Thompson River” on Petersen-Betts Road. The river was too high to see the actual old pillons (1914 and 1930) but we could see where they would be under the water.”

Kibble said the group then drove to the site of old Meeksville, which was the site of where present day Barriere began. She noted, “There was much discussion around this area and the small power plant they operated.”

Summer student Chant Copely added, “Meeksville, which is situated between Barriere Secondary School and the Barriere River Bridge, gained its importance’s when the Barriere Store burned down and Meeksville became the town center.”

Downtown Barriere was the next stop on the Heritage Tour, and everyone could refer to a map they been given showing what the town’s historic buildings had been used for over the years.

“We walked a short distance so we would have a view of the whole town,” said Kibble, “It was really interesting to hear everyone’s comments. We were fortunate to have long time Barriere residents Ray MacDonald and Fran Wagstaff participating to help fill in the information we were missing.”

There was plenty of active conversation as each of the buildings noted were pointed out in the downtown core.

Copley noted, “After sharing stories and memories the tour continued to a third location downtown, and then the final location on the map led the tour back to the museum to explore early Barriere where the site of the train station and Barriere Store and Hotel, were all explored through old pictures and conversation,”

Copley went on to say that each person had their own map, and by cross referencing old photos with new locations, “the tour participants gained a greater knowledge of Barriere’s evolution”.

Museum summer student Caleb Cartwright summed it all up, “Everyone had something to share on the tour, and there were quite a few people asking questions. The Museum is now thinking about doing one or two tours again next year. People will once again be visiting different historic sites in Barriere, and next year some of the key places to review will be the old air strip, and possibly the old drag strip, both close to where Barriere schools are today.”

Cartwright concluded by noting everyone is invited to attend an Open House at the North Thompson Museum on Aug. 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 343 Lilley Road, Barriere, B.C., “Everyone is welcome to attend.”

Find out more about Barriere’s heritage on Facebook: Barriere History

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