The gold rush town of Barkerville is celebrating 150 years this year. The fact that it is now a tourist destination and not a forgotten place on the map, is in part thanks to the efforts of Alfred Ludditt.
Ludditt was one of the gold prospectors who lived in Barkerville during the 1930s and later from 1946 to 1964.
“There were perhaps two or three hundred people living in Barkerville that winter of 1932-33. I rented “Uncle Dan’s” cabin at the far, upper end of the street, and as I later learned, was one of the oldest buildings in town. At the end of prospecting season…we followed up all the old prospector trails and found historic sites that were almost lost to sight and memory.”
When Ludditt returned to Barkerville after the war in 1945, he began a quest to convince the government to save the town from falling into ruin. Government officials were slow to act. Dismayed at seeing people tearing down buildings for firewood or looting the remaining ones, Ludditt decided something had to be done.
“In 1952 I began formulating a plan to halt effectually the destruction of the few remaining buildings and to build Barkerville into a tourist attraction. I formed the Barkerville Historic and Development Company…”
Ludditt’s persistence paid off. He gathered the remaining objects and opened his own museum in Barkerville. He wrote brochures and others joined in the cause. In 1958, he went to Victoria to ask about preserving Barkerville for the hundreds of tourists they were expecting to come during the Centennial year. At first he was turned down, then months later, in June 1958, Ludditt was asked to take temporary charge of the restoration of Barkerville.
“At last the restoration of Barkerville had truly begun!”