Pioneer Churches along the Gold Rush Trail

An Explorer’s Guide

By (author): Liz Bryan
ISBN 9781772034011
Softcover | Publication Date: June 14, 2022
Book Dimensions: 6 in. x 9 in.
224 Pages

About the Book

A fascinating tour through BC’s historical gold rush trails, focusing on the nineteenth-century churches that were pivotal to the establishment of early settler communities.

Much has been written about the Cariboo gold rush—from the trails and wagon roads to the rowdy mining camps, from tales of great luck to those of disappointment and despair. This book paints a different picture of those pioneer days. It is a guide to the nineteenth-century churches that were built during the gold rush or in the settlement days that followed. Most of these historic structures were handmade of local wood, though they differed greatly in size and style. Some are now abandoned, untenanted but still worthy of inspection. All were built to fill the spiritual need of the European migrants who flooded to the area, to nurture a sense of community that survived even after the gold was gone.

Filled with beautiful colour photography and detailed maps, Pioneer Churches along the Gold Rush Trail highlights the history, geography, architecture, craftsmanship, and social context of dozens of gold rush–era churches, preserving them, in their varying states of decay, for posterity. While acknowledging the destructive forces of colonialism, including Christianity, on Indigenous Peoples, this book also examines the historical role of churches in community building and invites the reader to consider this dichotomy with an open and curious mind.


About the Author(s)

Liz Bryan is a journalist, author, photographer, and co-founder of Western Living magazine. Bryan has written several books, including Pioneer Churches of Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea: An Explorer’s Guide (which was a finalist for the Lieutenant Governor's Historical Writing Competition), River of Dreams: A Journey through Milk River Country, and Stone by Stone: Exploring Ancient Sites on the Canadian Plains.


"Travel the Gold Rush Trail from the Lower Mainland to the Cariboo and your eye will be caught by many historic places of worship along the way. Liz Bryan’s book will fill in the blanks, giving you the backstory to the compelling architecture and history of these churches and transforming your journey through the BC Interior into a pilgrimage."
—Sage Birchwater, author of Talking to the Story Keepers: Tales from the Chilcotin Plateau
"This book offers a compassionate examination of historic churches along British Columbia’s gold rush trail. The contents are cleverly arranged following the original path of the incoming settlers starting in the 1850s. With well-written architectural and social commentary, this book is a must for everyone’s BC history bookshelf."
—Susan Smith-Josephy, author of Lillian Alling: the Journey Home and Cataline: The Life of BC's Legendary Packer
“Liz Bryan has gathered together an amazing chronicle of the pioneer and Indigenous People’s churches in British Columbia. Her detailed research on the elements of architectural style is evidenced by her 'Glossary of Church and Architectural Terms' included as an appendix. Kudos to her for recording these heritage buildings that are slowly disappearing throughout the province.”
—Ken Mather, author of Stagecoach North: A History of Barnard’s Express
"The author’s brilliant coloured photographs and a few historical ones complement the prose. A glossary of religious and architectural terms, suggestions for further reading, and a useful index make Pioneer Churches reader-friendly."
—Patricia E. Roy, BC Studies