January 2017 Update and projections

2017 will be another busy year and will see a couple of new ideas.  Before we get to that, though, here are a few highlights from the end of 2016:

  • We ended 2016 with a great benefit by the "Boys from Joe Denny’s and Friends" at the Theatre Royal that raised some significant funds and followers.
  • Barkerville Heritage Town and Park came onboard as a major sponsor.
  • Friends of Barkerville Historical Society renewed their support of the project.
  • In October we hit the road for a few snowy and rainy weeks to shoot in the eastern Rockies, Idaho and Oregon for a couple of upcoming films.
  • In November Richard headed to Jasper for a week and shot “The Overlanders 1862 at Disaster Point.”
  • In December we shot an important segment via Skype for the Florence Wilson story, with Amy, Richard’s granddaughter Annabelle and Judith Booth, a researcher in Australia and relative of Florence.

In terms of impact our Facebook views, Vimeo loads, other FB follower page posts, shares and other website views, such as The Archaeological Channel’s Strata and DJI Forum, are driving our views well into the 100s of thousands now. We are aiming to hit 1 million this year. All of this is driving the marketing of the Cariboo and Barkerville region.

Now...looking forward to 2017!

We are now editing and scripting for 2017 and shooting stock footage and B-roll. www.Bonepicker.ca has been updated with new videos - check them out if you haven't already We are lining up sponsors and contributors for 2017 films. In March we will head south to California and Oregon to film another few stories. (Richard drives down ahead of Amy as she is performing in Pride and Prejudice at the Chemainus Theatre during February-March.)

So far the proposed 2017 films are:

  • The Overlanders of 1862:Disaster Point (complete)
  • John Jones: An Overlander’s story of 1858 (editing)
  • The Outlaw Boone Helm - (editing)
  • Mrs. Winnard - California to an unmarked grave in Cameronton (filming begun)
  • John Adair - the link between the Battle of New Orleans and Barkerville (scripting)
  • Major Downie - founder of Downieville California and explorer of B.C. (scripting)

Archaeology Channel's Cultural Heritage Media Conference

In early May we will drive down to Eugene, Oregon where we have once again been asked to present at the “Archaeology Channel's Cultural Heritage Media Conference.” Our talk is “Cine Topophilia - The importance of place in filmmaking.” (Last year not one of the attendees had heard about Barkerville or the Cariboo, but they had when we left.)

Other News

We have been asked to film the Nam Sing Commemorative Cattle Drive to Barkerville for New Pathways to Gold in August.

The Friends of Barkerville are arranging a Bonepicker film showing in Quesnel in May.  If you miss that or can't make it to Quesnel in May, there are plans are to show some Bonepicker films daily at the Theatre Royal.  There are also some small festivals in the mix.

A big "thank you" to Lana Fox of Friends of Barkerville who has been a great help this year with great new research on John Adair and Major Downie.

We are excited that musician/Singer/Songwriter Scott Cook has come on board as a contributor of music and we are just waiting to find the right film for one of his songs.

Production values are increasing in 2017 with personal investments in new sound equipment, updated editing software and new camera gear. The first example, using a stabilized camera, can be seen at: https://vimeo.com/194545444.

All in all it will be a busy year for Bonepicker and no doubt more stories will appear. Thanks for your support.
If you have questions or ideas drop us a note.

Follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GoldRushBackstories/

More videos and media coverage

We have had a busy fall!

Our Phase 3 campaign closed and we would like thanks all of our donors and sponsors.

We went out of the road again and for those of you following us on Facebook, you will have already seen some of our "Rough Cut" videos. If you haven't seen them, yet, they are now online on our Videos page and on our Vimeo stream

This fall, we also received some exciting media coverage in the British film magazine, Digital Filmmaker.




Gold Rush Back Stories: Phase 3

We have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the next phase in the Bonepicker series.

Currently in planing, these are the stories from the UK and Europe that we intend to develop through Phase 3:

Germany – The story of the Hurdy Gurdy girls of the gold rush from Neider-Wiesel to B.C..

London, UK – Florence Wilson – One of the founders of Barkerville’s Theatre Royal, Parlour Saloon and Literary Institute. Major new research reaching into Russia has uncovered a new story. Her story links the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, in London, with the Theatre Royal, Barkerville and the Bloomsbury group with Barkerville.

England – Billy Barker’s roots. A canal boat trip visiting the early life of Barkerville’s founder around Cambridgeshire.

Scotland – James Anderson – Barkerville’s leading labour poet who spent eight years in B.C. and then returned to his family's estate in Scotland.

As well as these four featured UK and Germany stories we will shoot B-roll for other UK stories.

To support Phase 3 production, go to: https://igg.me/at/Bonepicker-Phase3/x

On Location

Notes from Spring 2015

onlocation1White Pine County in east/central Nevada.
It was here that many Cariboo miners traveled in 1869 in search of their fortunes after they had lost everything during the catastrophic Barkerville fire in September of 1868.
These mountains were full of silver and gold and miners flocked to this region from all over, including the Colony of British Columbia.
Richard and I followed the trails of some of these Cariboo miners and entrepreneurs. The search began at Elko, Nevada.

In this land of casinos, there is not much left of historic architecture for us to get the feel of the region in the 19th century. However, the local museum was a wonderful find.

This lead us to Toni Mendive, the curator, who set before us all kinds of research materials for us to pore over, including old newspapers, historical articles, magazines, quarterlies, etc.

onlocation6She was very interested in our project, as she had no knowledge about the BC gold rush or the connection with Cariboo miners and the strikes in Nevada.

We began with a list of 64 names, which Richard had already identified from an issue of the BC Colonist newspaper from 1869. We knew that men like the Oppenheimer brothers, Billy Ballou and Frank Laumeister, for example, had made their way to Elko looking for opportunities. It was a thrill for me to see the names of these men listed in the ads from The Elko Independent’s very first edition of June 19th, 1869.

Findings at the museum lead us out of town to the remnants of the old stagecoach route from Elko to Hamilton, a mining town in the White Pine Mountains. Here we found evidence of another Cariboo personality, William Culverwell, who had recently “skedaddled” out of Barkerville to avoid paying his debts. Newspapers report that Culverwell was driving the stage from Elko to Hamilton during the period of 1869 through 1870.

Many disillusioned miners from BC were heading to Elko by train from the west coast and then heading off either on foot or by stage after news of the strikes hit. Word of the riches coming out of the White Pine Mountains in 1869 fueled all of them with hope that they might recoup the losses they had sustained in the Cariboo goldfields. Today, a portion of the historic Hamilton Stage Road is being carved into lots as part of a housing development.

Armed with maps, lunches and plenty of fuel, Richard and I made our way up into the White Pine Mountains in search of Hamilton, 8000 feet above sea level and the site of a rich strike of silver in 1869. We began filming our principal photography of the BONEPICKER PROJECT here in late February, 2015.

The ruins of Hamilton today. It is a desolate, cold, forbidding landscape, particularly in winter....We also found the old cemetery: a cold and lonely place to be laid to rest, to be sure.

Back down the mountain, Richard shot some “B roll” video, the shots which are so integral to knitting principal shooting elements together into a unified whole.

onlocation14I had never been on camera in a documentary capacity, so this was new territory for me. Thanks to Richard for insisting that we purchase this bright red jacket for me to wear for the sequences. He was right. The colour “pops” against the drab, yet subtle beauty of the high desert landscape of Nevada.

Following the trail of Cariboo miners farther south along present day Highway 93, south of Ely, NV.

As we traveled this route in the comfort of our truck and travel trailer, I couldn’t help but wonder about the hardships and privations which early gold seekers went through in order to reach this inhospitable land: bitter cold in the winter, searing heat in the summer, though the landscape had an austere, unique beauty.

Pioche, NV

Richard and I found evidence of a few Cariboo miners who traveled here for its rich gold/silver strike in 1872.

We traced the location of an early settlement called Panaca Flats (south of Pioche), where the famous BC “miners’ angel”, Nellie Cashman, had a roadhouse during the 1870s. There is nothing on the landscape to mark the town site, but it was still fascinating to imagine a community here in these lonely, bleak mountains.

Panaca Flats
Panaca Flats

The town of Caliente, NV was the next stop on our route to uncovering the story of Cariboo miner, William Culverwell. We traced him here, to a town, which used to be named for his ranch: Culverwell Ranch. In later years, the town was renamed Caliente, in reference to the hot springs which were in the area.

These grasslands used to be part of Culverwell’s property in the 19th century. The family still has descendents living in the community today. Richard and I were fortunate in being able to meet with them and discuss their ancestors. They had no knowledge of their great uncle’s gold seeking past in the Cariboo Mountains of BC.

The old stone shed above was in use by William and his brother, Charles, when they first settled here in the 1870s. The old farm machinery is going to dust on property which used to be part of the Culverwell’s ranch.

More from the BONEPICKER research and film project in the next installment!

On the road again

Just for the record - shooting in Arizona or Nevada is better (watch for our next post talking about our trip last spring!)
We are in Terrace, B.C. in the pouring rain, waiting for brake repairs on our trailer.  Then, we hope the weather will clear so we can get to the Cassiar country to shoot a bit of feature and a lot of B roll video.
We are holed up for now, working on getting more of the videos we posted here uploaded to our Bonepicker website so have a look there in a day or two.
We are also answering emails and researching more of the story of Florence Wilson for our February shoot in London UK. Her backstory in London and Russia is starting to sort itself out and it reads like a Dickens tale - which it should as she knew Dickens well.
We are also working on proposals for the next two phases: Editing and Music this winter; and shooting several stories in and around London, UK. These may go to a Indiegogo campaign but more likely we will rely on our website for donations as the cost is lower.

Major donor comes on board

Some fantastic news to share.
Thank to the registered non-profit charitable organization, Friends of Barkerville - Cariboo Historical Society! Last night, they voted to give a donation of $5000 to the Bonepicker film project.
This marvelous donation will make all the difference to as we travel from destination to destination, filming the stories of Cariboo miners, wherever they roamed, before and after their adventures in Barkerville, British Columbia.
The next phase of the project will take us to Virginia City and Bannack, MT; Pioche and Eureka, NV; Tombstone and Yuma, AZ; just to name a few of the areas we will be visiting in search of the tales we want to tell.
This fascinating film project is the brainchild of Richard Wright, whose capacity to bring innovative, big ideas to fruition, resulted in events like the great re-enactment of the camel trek to Barkerville some years ago. His efforts to focus attention on Barkerville and the goldfields of Cariboo were recognized in 2012 when he was presented with the President's Award from Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association...
Now, it's time to start thinking about packing equipment for our journey! We leave in 2 and a half weeks...

Check out their website at:



This puts us well over half way to our Phase 2 budget of $8000.

Join the project!


Who are they?

An interesting part of this filming process is spending hours, days, focusing on historic images such as those used in the trailers and "Listen", photos taken by Frederick Dally for instance. The lens carves out scenes from within his broader image. As time slips by recorded onto pixels we often begin to see the same people, over and over. We recognize them and we feel we know them. We see the man who has stopped work on the boardwalk to look at the photographer, or the two boys sitting on a "pre-fire'’ (1868) boardwalk, a woman with her hand resting on the shoulder of another, a mother with a child, a man smoking a long-stemmed pipe. Who are they?

We can look into their eyes. It can be unnerving as they look back from 150 years ago - from another time. I want to find them and ask them questions; "who are you? What makes you laugh? Or cry. What music do you like?"

Perhaps this project will answer some of those questions. Perhaps we will find some of them. Already new stories are emerging and as we stand on the land they stood on more will be revealed, as it was when we walked the lands of Pitfar in Scotland while researching James Anderson and his life unfolded from the stone dykes and boggy fields.

Callin’ the Lines

While doing some Bonepicker research I was reading through a notebook from 15 years ago, written while on a journey to Kentucky looking for Timoleon Love, a leading Overlander and Cariboo gold rush pioneer.

In the Lancaster county courthouse I met a lawyer who was helping folks with land records by listening to their story. “Nope, there were no Love’s in that area,” he said, referring to where we had been looking. "I know that holler. We lived near the tipple [a coal dump] you passed and downstream of there was all owed by the Whites. They had lots of land until they pissed and partied it all away. Drunks and whoremongers – that’s what they were – drunks and whoremongers.”

He later remarked how important oral history was in his country of hills and hollows and introduced us to a team working on land boundaries. They were mapping out borders by listening to old folks, the elders, mostly men, who could "call the lines". They could walk the land and call out the irregular boundary lines visable only to them as the lines jogged from ancient tree to creek to boulder. Many had changed as coal mines and tipples altered the topography of the land or a creek flooded or a tree fell. They remembered the history. My notebook reminded me of his words: "What we know is a lot more important than what was wrote down."

Such is the basis of the Bonepicker stories.

A bonepicking teaser

Did you watch the HBO Series Deadwood? If you are like many Barkervillians you did, and likely got caught up in the debate over how similar to Barkerville was Deadwood.

Remember E.B. Farnum, that wonderful character, the oily hotelier with damp palms who spoke like a Shakespeare character? Remember when he ran for mayor?

Well, in Cariboo we had a guy named Doc. Keithley. Over near Quesnel Forks he and (guess who?) I.P. Diller made a great strike on Keithley Creek. This strike gave Diller the money to capitalize his claims on Williams Creek.

Keithley kept wandering. He ended up in Deadwood where he was known as "Judge" Keithley. And, he ran for mayor, against E.B. Farnum. Keithely lost - Farnum won.Oh - at the same time Capt. Jack Crawford was in town - and Hickok was killed. It illustrates how gold rush characters were interlinked.

This is just one of the stories that will be filmed and presented in The Bonepicker project.