Located in a picturesque setting on the mouth of the Quesnel River, at the west end of Quesnel Lake, the town of Likely is one of the few remaining old gold rush settlements. Originally known as Quesnel Dam, the town was renamed in honour of John A. Likely, who was connected with the bullion mine.
In the last week in October of 1922, over 697 ounces of gold were recovered at the Cedar Creek Mine. That was the discovery by John Lynne, as recorded in the Victoria Archives. The area was so rich in gold that it was known as The Nugget Patch.
Location: The pleasant community of Likely resides 80 kilometres northeast of the Highway 97 junction at 150 Mile House and 80 kilometres east of Williams Lake.
The Bullion Pit: An awe-inspiring wonder of man’s genius for extracting the wealth of nature from the ground: that’s the only way to describe The Bullion Pit, the huge man-made gold mining pit 5 kilometres west of Likely that was in operation from 1892 to 1942. The mining activities created an opening 3 kilometres long by 400 feet deep, moving 12 million cubic yards of gravel. In 1938, the mine used more water per day to feed the big hydraulic hoses than the entire city of Vancouver.
Relive the ghost town of Quesnelle Forks, 5 km northwest of Likely, with the annual festival of events on the second weekend in July. Founded in 1859 as the first Cariboo “Gold Camp”, and laid out by the Royal Engineers in 1862, Quesnel Forks was at one time the largest city on the mainland, with over 5,000 residents at the height of the gold rush. The old cemetery offers an interesting glimpse into the past.
Twin Giants: Marvel at one of the Twin Giants, huge steam shovels purchased in 1906 to dig a canal from Spanish Lake to the Bullion Mines. The shovels weighed approximately 22,000 pounds each, and were shipped in pieces from Toledo, Ohio. Transported first by rail then by wagon to a site below the dam on Spanish Lake, they were assembled and placed on railway tracks to begin digging the ditch. It was reported that $20,000 were spent before the operations were suspended, leaving the shovels where they stopped work in 1907. One shovel rests in Cedar Point Park, the other is restored and on display in Quesnel.
Berries: For those who enjoy the finer things in life, the area abounds with strawberries, huckleberries, raspberries and saskatoons for the picking.
The scenic Cedar Point Park is nestled in a tall stand of cedar trees next to Quesnel Lake. It is one of the finest parks in the region, featuring a campground, a playground, boat launch, wharf, and more. In the 1850s, Cedar Point Park was a rendezvous point for the Hudson’s Bay Company fur brigade. The park is also the resting spot for one of the Twin Giants, steam shovels.
Gold Panning: The Likely area still harbours many a gold panner walking out of them thar hills with nuggets in their pockets, so don’t forget your gold pans!
Offroading: For the hardy souls with four-wheel-drive vehicles, a jaunt over the top of Yank’s Peak is well worth the time and trouble. Breathtaking scenery, old mines, wildlife and rolling alpine all lead to historic Barkerville. Yank’s Peak was named after Bill Luce, a well-known American miner. Enjoy the winter wonderland snowmobiling Yank’s Peak between November and May.
Fishing: The Lakes and Rivers around Likely produce some of the best fishing found anywhere in the region – it’s a true fisherman’s paradise! There are too many lakes and rivers to mention them all, but some of the more popular ones include: Jacobie, Moorehead, Bootjack, Polley, Spanish, Benny, Freshette, Annette and Wolverine – all of which are easily accessible from Likely.
Just north of Horsefly, Quesnel Lake is the largest Lake in the Cariboo, with the North Arm extending 77 kilometres and the East Arm reaching out 100 kilometres. Fish for 10-16 pound rainbow trout, lake trout up to 30 or 40 pounds, as well as dolly varden or kokanee. The lake claims the title World’s Deepest Fiord Lake – its east arm has been sounded to nearly 2,000 feet!
The Quesnel River flows west out of Quesnel Lake, commencing at Likely. Rainbows and dolly varden from one pound to 14 pounds are taken on spinning gear from July through October. Flies will also entice these fish. There is an angling closure covering 50 metres on either side of Likely Bridge.
Pack your poles and take the Keithley Creek road for about 25 kilometres northeast of Likely to Cariboo Lake. This good fishing lake is about 15 km long and has rainbow, lake trout, kokanee and dolly varden. The small community of Keithley Creek on Cariboo Lake was named in honour of ‘Doc” Keithley who made the first discovery on the creek which bears his name.
Camels were used as pack animals during the Cariboo gold rush. One was shot at Beaver Valley, by a prospector named Morris, when he mistook it for a giant grizzly.
The people of Likely are a friendly, hospitable lot that believe in having a lot of fun. Their Likely Mayday celebration is a fine example of how their young and old get together, opening the doors of the community for everyone’s enjoyment. Highlights include a parade, fishing derby, and many other games and events for the whole family to enjoy.
Quesnel River Hatchery produces approximately 2.3 million chinook salmon fry every year to stock the rivers and streams in the surrounding area. Adult salmon can be viewed from August 1 to the end of September; from November to April the fry can be observed in their different stages of development. From April to August 1 there are no fish in the hatchery at all. The hatchery is open seven days a week, from 8 am to 4 pm.
Circle Tour: See the best of the Cariboo, Chilcotin and BC Coast on the Discovery Coast Circle Tour. Cross to Vancouver Island from Vancouver and head north, boarding the Queen of Chilliwack in Port Hardy. Return to the mainland at Bella Coola, and enjoy the grassy plateaus, rolling meadows, picturesque canyons and high mountain peaks of the Chilcotin. The old Cariboo Wagon Road will lead you back to Vancouver through the heart of the Cariboo region. The Inside Passage Tour, the Native Heritage Tour, and the Circle Tour of Northern BC all incorporate the Cariboo Highway 97 for the journey between Prince George and Vancouver.
Circle Tours in British Columbia.