John Bowron was one of Barkerville’s most well-known citizens and government agents. Over the length of his working life, he held various positions such as postmaster, mining recorder, government agent, and gold commissioner.
Bowron was born and raised in Huntingdon, Quebec (called Lower Canada then) and later studied law in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1862, he joined an group of ‘overlanders‘ and made the difficult hike over the Rockies and descended the treacherous Fraser River by raft.
Bowron arrived at Williams Creek in 1863 and during that first year he formed the Cariboo Literary Society with meetings held in his cabin in Cameronton. The following year, members raised money to build a library with Bowron as librarian. An advertisement in the Cariboo Sentinel newspaper in 1865 shows members were charged $2 a month and “100 volumes of new works” were added to the circulating library.
In 1866, Bowron was appointed postmaster at Cameronton just as considerable excitement was building at Grouse Creek. He joined four other gold miners to form the Hard-Up Company on Grouse Creek in the spring of 1867, which turned out to be a successful venture.
Around that same time, the government moved the site of the post office to Barkerville. Bowron built an addition at the back of the building and moved the library there. Unfortunately, just over a year later, the Barkerville Fire completely destroyed the post office and library.
In later years, as gold commissioner, Bowron was credited for creating a map which showed the location of the original claims on Williams Creek and their approximate total yield in gold.
His daughter Lottie Bowron was instrumental in making Barkerville a historic site, along with Alfred Ludditt. Bowron Lake Provincial Park is named after him.