This view of Wells, B.C. shows only seven of the two hundred buildings that their website claims are being restored. That works out to one building per person in this 1930’s village, 66 kilometers northeast of Vancouver. Picturesque and quixotic are two words that come to mind when I think about this village just three miles down the road from the legendary gold mining village of Barkerville.
Barkerville is a painted, restored village, now overrun by tourists, that has felt the benefit of many government grants to bring it back to the style that it showed in the 1860’s when the Caribou Wagon Road brought over 100,000 people to its doors. The contrast between Barkerville and Wells is stark. One is neat and organized while the other is eccentric to a near catastrophic degree. In Wells, old trucks with their hood agape slump beside frame buildings that show more flair than craftsmanship from a succession of owners.
The hotel at which we stayed was welcoming but looked like it might have been the set for a sitcom: The Bob Newhart Inn on a very bad day. The food was heavy with nuts and twigs. We spent the evening sitting around the dining room table trading stories with the four other guests of the hotel. A family atmosphere of ribbing and rivalry filled the room outfitted with its oak table accompanied by wooden pressed back chairs that showed no kinship at all. Our bedroom, the bridal suite, was the only one with a toilet ensuite. Mind you, there was no furniture in the room other than a wardrobe in the Scandinavian country style, attractive, but a bedside table to hold the lamp would not have gone amiss. Never mind, we had a good time.