The Tinsmith of Barkerville

Barkerville street scene - September, 1868 (C.W. Graham. Library and Archives Canada, C-061936)

Barkerville street scene – September, 1868 (C.W. Graham. Library and Archives Canada, C-061936)

In this photograph, taken just before the Barkerville Fire, you can see the location of the tin shop, just beyond the bakery.

Originally from Kingston, Ontario, John Bibby was the tinsmith of Barkerville. As a tinsmith, he built stoves and stovepipes. The material for these was brought in as flat sheets which he cut and assembled. He also made gold pans for the miners.

The advent of hydraulic mining transformed his business into a highly profitable one. Bibby was the first tinsmith in Barkerville to make pipes to carry water – necessary for hydraulic mining. These were made from iron sheets and held together by rivets. Bibby made different sizes of pipes from several inches to several feet wide and in long lengths. At first he made them himself, then later he used a machine, crimpers, and a rivet press.

The last tin shop he built still stands in Barkerville just behind its original site.

depiction of hydraulic mining (Creative Commons image by Marcel D. Dekker)

depiction of hydraulic mining (Creative Commons image by Marcel D. Dekker)

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