The community of Barriere rests in the mountains at the south end of the North Thompson Valley of central British Columbia. Barriere is situated on the Yellowhead Highway #5 (constructed about 40 years ago), 45 minutes or 66 km (41 miles) north of Kamloops, BC. Continuing north on Highway #5, the town of Clearwater is 58 km farther up the valley.The Simpcw First Nation (a division of the Shuswap) has historically occupied the drainage of the North Thompson River. Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Simpcw spent the spring, summer and fall traveling to hunt, gather food and other supplies to provide for them through the winter months. During the winter, the Simpcw would gather at village sites in the valley bottoms, close to the rivers. The Simpcw would often fish for salmon in the North Thompson and legendarily built the stone fish traps in the river around Barriere that caused the pooling of the salmon as they spawned each fall. Presently, there are about 600 members of the Simpcw First Nation and about 300 of those members live on the Simpcw First Nation Indian Reserve at Chu Chua, to the north of Barriere and the Louis Creek Reserve, to the south.

The first non-native inhabitants of the area were French fur traders who named the settlement Barrieré in 1828 for the fish traps constructed by First Nation fishermen that formed a barrier for travel down the river. In 1862, the Overlanders, who travelled from Ontario to the BC Interior in search of gold, camped 10 km south of Barriere before starting their notorious raft trip down the North Thompson River.

The area soon became a destination for settlers with farming and ranching ambitions. The farming and ranching lifestyle persists to this day as one of the main uses of the land in the Barriere area.

Started in 1949, the annual North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo is held each Labour Day Weekend. The first fall fair drew a crowd of about 500 people and featured events such as sporting events, agricultural and domestic exhibitions, and an evening dance in the hall. In 2007, approximately 10,000 people were in attendance as the nationally recognized rodeo took place. Amusement park rides, demonstrations, exhibitions of livestock, produce, fine arts and crafts as well as a parade and the dances in the evening are just some of the activities that are offered throughout the weekend. The Fall Fair is a highlight for the entire North Thompson Valley Area.

In August 2003, a state of emergency was declared as the McLure Fire burned out of control and forced the evacuation of 3000 valley residents, including the entire town Barriere. The local Tolko Lumber Mill was burned to the ground leaving more than 180 employees out of work.

In the fall of 2007, the residents of Barriere voted to incorporate and the District of Barriere was created. On November 17, 2007, Barriere community members voted for their first mayor and city councilors and a new page in the history of the Barriere community was turned.

This community'­s experience with a significant wildfire in the last 10 years and the resulting evacuations, property damages and losses made it an excellent candidate for resiliency research. Working within the Barriere area provides the opportunity to examine the ability of local governments to create secure, thriving settlements after a disaster, and the effect of such efforts on resiliency.

This project was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Past members of the research team who were part of this project were: John Clague, Dave Hutton, Murray McKay, Jill Hayward, Donna Kibble, Rhonda Kershaw, and Carolyn McTighe.


For more information about Barriere

The District of Barriere
Barriere & District – Chamber of Commerce
The North Thompson Valley
McLure Wildfire Monument 


Research dissemination

‘Lessons learned’ booklet:

  1. Kulig, J., A. Kimmel, A. Gullacher, B. Reimer, I. Townshend, D.S. Edge, N. Lightfoot, M. McKay, M. Barnett, J. Clague & A. Coghlan. (2010). McLure Fire: Lessons Learned. Retrieved from 

Technical reports: 

  1. Kulig, J., W. Reimer, I. Townshend, D. Edge, N. Lightfoot. (2011). Understanding Links between Wildfires and Community Resiliency: Lessons Learned for Disaster Preparation and Mitigation. Lethbridge, AB: University of Lethbridge.
  2. Kulig, J., W. Reimer, I. Townshend, D. Edge, N. Lightfoot, A. Kimmel & E. Hosgood. (2010). Report of the Household Survey: Barriere, BC. Lethbridge, AB. University of Lethbridge.
  3. Kulig, J., W. Reimer, I. Townshend, D. Edge, N. Lightfoot, A. Kimmel & E. Hosgood. (2010). Report of the Household Survey: Coaldale, AB. Lethbridge, AB. University of Lethbridge.


  1. Kulig, J., W. Reimer, I. Townshend, D. Edge & N. Lightfoot. (2011). Rural communities facing disasters: What have we learned? Municipal World 121(5), 23 – 29. 

Academic presentations: 

  1. March 21, 2011. Lethbridge, AB. Rural Health: Expanding our Horizons through a Community-Based Research Program. University Scholar Presentation, University of Lethbridge.
  2. March 11-16, 2011. Tempe, United States. On the Structure of Perceived Resiliency & Community Cohesion in Wildfire Communities. Resilience 2011: Second International Science and Policy Conference. 
  3. November 3, 2010. Lethbridge, AB. Disasters, Resilience and Rural Communities: Lessons Learned. As part of the “Post-Disaster Response: Research into Community Resiliency after Wildfires.” CIHR Café Scientifique.
  4. September 23-25, 2010. Fredericton, NB. Rural Community Resiliency, Wildfires and Disaster Preparedness: Policy Implications for Canada. Canadian Rural Health Research Society 9th Annual Conference.
  5. May 25, 2010. Virtual panel presentation. Community Resiliency: Applying the Concept to Rural Communities. Diversity in Action: Resilient Rural Communities. Rural Women New Zealand, National Conference 2010.
  6. April 27-29, 2010. San Antonio, United States. Community Resiliency as a Response to Wildfires: Canadian Case Examples. 2nd Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference.
  7. March 9, 2010. Biose, United States. Learning about Community Resiliency through Wildfire Research. Department of Nursing, Boise State University.
  8. October 15-17, 2009. Kingston, ON. Community Resiliency & Response to Wildfires: Stories from Barriere & La Ronge. Canadian Rural Health Research Society 8th Annual Conference.


  1. Kulig Study a Blueprint for Recovery. The Legend, The University of Lethbridge. June, 2011.
  2. Seeking to Understand. Snapshot, U of L Faculty of Health Sciences Newsletter. Spring, 2011.
  3. Exploring Health Horizons Through Community-Based Research. Lethbridge Herald (The Public Professor). March 19, 2011.
  4. Falling Through the Cracks. Corporate Knights (magazine). Fall, 2010.
  5. Wildfire study presentation March 15. Barriere Star Journal. March 15, 2010.
  6. Three year resiliency study almost complete. Barriere Star Journal. November 23, 2009.
  7. Wildfire study reports. Star Journal. October 6, 2008.
  8. Study looks at ability to recover from disasters. Kamloops Daily News. July 30, 2008.
  9. University to research disaster management in Barriere and area. Star Journal. December 24, 2007
  10. 10th Anniversary of the McLure Fire (2003). Letter to the Editor, The Star Journal, July 25, 2013 (
  11. 10th Anniversary of the Lost Creek Fire. (2003). Letter to the Editor, The Pass Herald, July 23, 2013 (

Public presentations:

  1.  May 10, 2010 - Coaldale, AB. Presentation of study results to Coaldale community members and town council members.
  2. March 15, 2010 - Barriere, B.C. Presentation of preliminary study results to Barriere community members and town council members, and community roundtable discussion. (To read the Star Journal article about the presentation, click here)
  3. March 8, 2010 - Biose, United States. Presentation of study results to academics and general public at the Boise State University.
  4. October 27, 2008 - Barriere, B.C. Presentation of qualitative interview findings to Barriere community members and town council members.

Digital stories:

Members of the research team travelled to Barriere, B.C. on November 17-20, 2009 to create digital stories as a thank-you to the community. (To read the Star Journal article about the making of the digital stories, click here)  Scroll down to view the digital stories.

 Donna Chivers, McLure, B.C.

Donna & her husband stayed behind to fight the fire and saved their home.

 Bob Hearn, McLure, B.C.

Bob was the ferry operator at the time of the fire and helped evacuate hundreds of people.

 Jill & Bob Hayward, Louis Creek, B.C.

Jill and Bob lost their home in the fire, but were able to evacuate some of their possessions and livestock.

 Tina Donald, Simpcw First Nation, B.C.

Since the fire, Tina and other Simpcw First Nation people have developed extensive mitigation strategies for addressing fire and other emergencies. 

 Al Kirkwood, Barriere, B.C.

Al was the fire chief in Barriere at the time of the wildfire. 

 Rob Rutten, McLure, B.C.

Rob lost both his home and his antique store during the wildfire and has since rebuilt both buildings.