There’s gold at the heart of B.C.’s richly forested Cariboo region—specifically in Likely, a quaint 350-person town located where Quesnel Lake becomes Quesnel River. In the late 1800s, this river valley was teeming with prospectors—professional and otherwise—who flocked to the area to find their fortune during the great Cariboo Gold Rush. One of the most lucrative local sites was the Bullion Pit, once known as the largest hydraulic placer mine in the world. Just six kilometres away was a smaller mine plumbed by local families rather than large mining firms, and it’s still relatively rich in unearthed treasures. Now, that gold-filled land is for sale for $1.3 million (in fiat currency, not bars).
Jim and Wendy Gibson, the mine’s current owners, bought the site in 2003. Both were history buffs who shared a fascination with mining. (Jim was also told by friends that he needed a hobby.) Together with a four-person crew, they mine the 19 cells and 21 tenures on their 100-acre bench of Crown land every year, from April to October. Typically, they net about an ounce of gold for every 80-to-100-yard stretch, but they’ve dug up as many as eight ounces. Jim says there’s plenty of gold left to be found by any future owners. “We’ve only scratched the surface,” he says. Helpfully, the couple will be including some heavy-duty equipment in the sale: excavators, a rock truck, pumps and even a bulldozer.
The sale also includes deeds to two more lots, both located a half-hour’s drive from the mine. The Gibsons live in a newly renovated (but still rustic) three-bedroom, two-bathroom fir-log cabin on the larger, two-acre lot, which offers eye-popping views of the Cariboo Mountains. The cabin features a new kitchen with updated appliances, new wood flooring and, importantly, an updated septic tank. Quesnel Forks, a nearby mining town, is still open for business, with pubs, restaurants and stores offering gear for fishing and hunting—both popular local pastimes.
Because of the mine’s diminutive size, the Gibsons say that it’s best operated by an enterprising family rather than a large company. So far, the couple has received a flurry of interest, but no firm offers. Any future mine owners should bank on performing plenty of physical labour and full-time work, they say. They’ll also reap all of the rewards.