Historic Gold Rush Exhibit Aims To Identify Chinese Workers

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A Barkerville, B.C. historian is trying to identify Chinese gold rush workers like the ones who lived here, in Keithly Creek. (BC Archives Collection) | Royal BC Museum

Historians in Barkerville, B.C., are looking to China to help identify the subjects in thousands of historical photographs.

The gold rush town in the Cariboo has a new exhibit made up of artifacts and pictures from the Chinese workers who flocked to the town in the 1800s.

James Douglas, a manager at Barkerville Historic Town, says the Chinese often had portraits done to send back to China while they were in town.

"Over the years of course, a lot of the records aren't in existence, so we don't necessary know who a lot of these figures in the photographs are,” he said.

“So it's a really interesting opportunity for us to share Barkerville with China, as well as get some information from China to come back and help us with our research."

Douglas says the exhibit will be unveiled at Sun Yat-Sen Gardens in Vancouver on Thursday.

It will remain in B.C. for the month of December before heading to Hong Kong and China in 2013, where it’s hoped residents might be able to identify their ancestors.

"There are a lot of photographs to go through, and a lot of people will see them, and we can't help but think that some people are going to be able to identify these people,” Douglas said.

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