The Kellys: Barkerville Pioneers

Andrew and Genevieve Kelly of Barkerville

Andrew and Genevieve Kelly of Barkerville

Andrew Kelly, originally from Ireland, came to British Columbia in 1862, after spending time in the  goldfields of Australia and California.

At first Kelly came to the Cariboo with the intention of staking a claim, but he soon realized that his occupation might be more valuable. Kelly was a baker and from his experience, he knew that gold miners wanted fresh bread and baked goods.

By 1863, Kelly was the owner of a claim in Barkerville and right next door was his own bakeshop which he named the Wake-Up Jake Bakery and Coffee Saloon. A sign indicated that he also served lunch. For the next two years, both the claim and the saloon were very successful.

In 1866, Kelly married Elizabeth Hastie in California. Shortly afterward, they travelled to the Cariboo where Kelly sold the Wake-Up Jake and built a boarding house and a bakeshop at Grouse Creek.

It was said that Kelly built his large brick oven using clay and rocks in a manner which was common during that time. Flagstones or bricks were placed on the floor and the sides and top were formed with rocks and clay to form an oval. The back of the oven was built up to form a chimney. A door of tin or rock was made to fit tightly into the oven. The whole oven was encased in firm earth.

Andrew Kelly’s oven could handle dozens of loaves of bread, pies, cakes or cookies at a time. To bake the bread, a fire was lighted in the oven and the door closed. When the bricks were sufficiently hot, the ashes were removed, the chimney blocked, and the bread put in.

In 1870, the Kellys returned to Barkerville where they established the Kelly Hotel which they operated for many years before turning it over to their children to carry on the family business.