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BARLEE, Bill (Neville Langrell) 1932 - June 14, 2012 Bill had a rich and varied career as a politician, historian, television host, author, publisher, museum collector/curator, entrepreneur, and high school teacher. A major focus of Bill's life was the preservation and promotion of British Columbia's history and heritage. Born in Grand Forks, BC, Bill grew up in the Boundary, Kootenay and Okanagan areas, there developing a deep love for the land and its history. He was a popular schoolteacher for seventeen years, latterly at Penticton Secondary High School, where he taught Social Studies and coached the boys' track and field team. In 1968, Bill left teaching to write and publish his local history magazine "Canada West" and his books including the best sellers "Gold Creeks and Ghost Towns" and "The Guide to Gold Panning in BC ". Bill co-hosted the popular and award winning CHBC TV series, "Gold Trails and Ghost Towns" which ran from 1986 to 1996 on five different networks nationwide. The show is still seen in reruns. Bill had deep roots in the New Democratic Party, calling himself an "entrepreneur with a social conscience". Although a social democrat, Bill had friends across the political spectrum. Bill won the Boundary/Similkameen provincial by-election in 1988. From 1991-1993, he was Minster of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, introducing the very successful "Buy BC" program. He especially enjoyed his next Cabinet position as Minister of Small Business, Tourism and Culture, 1993-1996. In this position Bill pursued his lifelong interest in preserving BC history and promoting the province. Vancouver Sun columnist, Denny Boyd, remarked that Bill was one of the best Tourism Ministers BC had ever had. Among other awards, Bill received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. In addition to Bill's many talents and interests, he was a gifted athlete who excelled at hockey, lacrosse and tennis. His Okanagan Valley high school record for running the mile, lasted 20 years. In tennis, Bill won the Okanagan Valley singles title 7 times, and the doubles 13 times with his good friend, Roland Schwarz. Later in life, Bill delighted in trouncing tennis players thirty years his junior. Many people enjoyed Bill's company and appreciated his dynamic personality, charm, sharp mind, wonderful sense of humour, kindness, contagious laugh and irrepressible joy for life. Bill is survived by his wife Kathleen Kyle, their daughters Veronica, Gwen and Diane Barlee, and granddaughter Laura Barlee-Morris. By family request, no service will be held at this time. Donations to the SPCA may be made in Bill's memory. Special thanks to the doctors and nurses at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, for their excellent care. To leave a condolence, please visit ">

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Published in Victoria Times-Colonist on Jun. 30, 2012.
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Memories & Condolences
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68 entries
April 18, 2017
I spent this past month watching his every TV show,I quickly became hooked,TY Bill,you awakened my every dream to visit BC and get lost...and find my nugget.
Jonathon McDonald
September 8, 2014
I am deeply saddened to hear of Mr. Bill Barlee's passing while visiting my family in Penticton. I fondly remember his professionalism in the classroom back in 1963. His stories that heightened my keenness in our history and later his tv show that is still, sometimes today viewed in the Northwest territories. Thank you Bill, I cherish your publications that I still have today. Diane Hrstic (Maluorno)
November 9, 2013
Enjoyed working with him in his '88 Byelection and in my school projects. Someone for today's politicians to emulate!
M. Palmer
October 1, 2013
Such a beautiful place, such a beautiful soul
well, Bill was my track coach, he got me to do my best. he talked about doing right for others, besides myself. A man's man, Bill, you set a benchmark for us in Government service to follow. He could write on a chalk board with both hands , at the same time. He had Ethics, and gave service to British Columbians , Good man Bill, in school, he was my Mentor, rtg.
Ralph Gerwing
August 2, 2013
My deepest condolences to the Barlee family. All I can say is Mr. Bill Barlee had the ability to make not only dreamers of us all who were touched by his stories & tales but also novice treasure hunters. I will never forget how my life has changed since watching my first episode of Ghost Towns & Gold Trails many, many years ago. I only wish I had met him in person..
R. M.
R. McCormick
June 11, 2013

Bill did great things for b.c

Such great history he kept going.

We need more people like him in this day in age

January 25, 2013
Bill Barlee will be sadly missed.A person with A varied background ,and PASSIONATE love for the history of B.C. only walks among us
once.Being an M.L.A, and also a person who took great interest in the history of B.C.,proved that there will be very few individuals that will be able to carry on what Mr.Barlee has left.
Jay Titerle
January 20, 2013
What a great man and a great show on TV I loved his manner and story telling. I am sure, in some way he was there when it all unfolded. I have visited many of the places Mr Barlee spoke about in the 30 years I lived in British Columbia. Thank you Bill and to his family I feel your loss. A wonderful man who contributed and touched so many. Rest in peace!
Ron Cairns
November 8, 2012
November 2, 2012
Mr Barlee was my home room Teacher and I remember his stories plus his TV program which I enjoyed.
Ricki Walker
October 30, 2012
My sympathies with Mr. Barlee's family. I haven't seen any reference to his very first foray into teaching, but it could be that he came to Port Alice in the mid 50s for one year as a high school teacher. I don't remember him all that well, but my impression is that he was an enthusiastic teacher who was well-liked by all his students.
Daryl Sturdy
September 2, 2012
Sorry to learn of Mr Barlees passing. Ive watched the shows with great interest over the years and his infectious enthusiasm for the history of BC comes through. Rest in Peace...Thanks
B Chambers
September 1, 2012
I love first heard and seen Bill Barlee on his T.V. show with mike roberts and was instantly hooked. I just randomly read on wikipedia that he had so recently passed. He has inspired me to learn about the rich history of B.C. what a great Guy!
David Vander Leest
August 18, 2012
Words cant describe what he contributed to B.C. history,it would have vanished with out him,he has inspired me and so many others-I truly thank you,NLB
Jim Murray
August 14, 2012
Thank you Bill for taking me on so many journey's with your books,i hope the journey you are presently on is as wonderful as those you related to while you where here... God Speed Bill.
Alex Murray
August 12, 2012
I was so sorry to hear of Bill's passing. We had many great chats over the years. You've left a fabulous legacy of stories and books and created a love for the heritage of BC. I remember as a child watching your program on the tv and my dad was so impressed when years later i told him we had met. I'll miss you Bill.
Yours in books.
Cathy Sorensen
July 24, 2012
Another late assignment for me. I had planned for many years to track down Mr. Barlee and thank him for being my favourite teacher. It was his passion for our local history that sparked my continuing interest in all things historical. I had joined his class in November, 1968 mid-semester and only had a few months to soak up his teachings. What a guy!!!
Brian Finlay
July 16, 2012
Bill's enthusiasm in BC's history was very contagious. Bill has entrenched himself in the very history that he was so passionate about. He will be missed.
Ed Harris
July 15, 2012
Dear Barlee Family - I am so very sad to read of Bill's passing. My husband and I so enjoyed watching Bill on TV, Gold Trails and Ghost Towns. He was a great host, was so keen on his beloved country. We will cherish his work, his love of life, as I am sure all of you will.
Deb Vanderhage
July 11, 2012
My Dad and I were hooked on the books and the TV program . He will be missed as a Great Canadian
Rob Nicholls
July 9, 2012
Bill made history come alive for me. I wish we had more people of his calibre in government today. He made me proud to be a British Columbian. Thank you Mr. Barlee.
Robert Barrington
July 8, 2012
Dear Kathleen and family, I'm saddened to hear of Bill's passing and your loss. I treasure the times I spent with Bill from our first meeting in 1977, to a few years ago when helping sort some of his collection to be donated. My kids especially were fond of him and always looked forward to his cheerful visits in Vancouver and Osoyoos. My best to all the family.
Steve Lunsford
July 7, 2012
To the family of Bill Barlee:
We always enjoyed accompanying Bill on the campaign trail. In Grandd Forks, the best place to meet many voters, was at the PO, about noon. Most people enjoyed the opportunity to meet & chat with Bill or just to shake hands. He was well liked & will be fondly remembered.
Harold & Phyllis Funk
July 6, 2012
Kathleen, I am so sad to hear of Bill's passing. I send a hug to comfort you and please know my thoughts are with you and your family.
Christine McWhirter
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Vancouver Sun photo
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Bill and Kathleen Kyle in Kelowna.
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Picture from Bill's high school yearbook.
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Bill with his brothers, Dalling and Roy.
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Bill with his brother, Roy.
Diane Barlee
July 5, 2012
Bill as a young boy
July 5, 2012
To the Family of Bill Barlee,
Bill has been an outstanding Canadian. His passion for British Columbia, for teaching, and for all he has given to generations of young people left a wonderful legacy.
We send our sympathy to all Bill's family as we remember that he made a positive difference, living a life of service to his fellow citizens.
Grace and Ray McCarthy
July 5, 2012
I'm so sorry. Although I didn't meet him, he always had me dreaming of finding the hidden treasures and hanging on the edge of my chair with his stories.
Thanks for the great memories Bill.
July 5, 2012
HE did it for the stories he could tell,His life was devoted to spinning a yarn, weaving a tapestry of B.C. history. Thanks ,Bill
lee kenney
July 5, 2012
All my life I have remembered Bill Barlee,such a happy caring person. He was my grade 10 Social Studies teacher. He took us on field trips and taught us the difference between capitalism and democracy. He always wore a smile, had a kind word when things were tough and he told great stories of the gold rush and local BC history.

Bill was a community builder and memory maker - he will be missed by all who knew him and for those of us who lost touch over the years - we will always remember him because the memories he made with us in high school are unforgettable.
Priscilla Judd
July 4, 2012
Bill was a noted British Columbian historian and teacher. I first met Bill when he taught school at Crowe high school in Trail and owned a second hand store downtown Trail. Bill is someone who should be awarded posthumously the Order of British Columbia. He made history living and interesting
Bill Burns
July 4, 2012
So sorry to hear of Bill's passing. Working in caucus from 1989, I loved it when Bill would come and join us in the coffee room and tell one of his great stories. He will be deeply missed by many.

Leslie Ivens
July 4, 2012
My most sincere and heart felt condolences to the family this amazing man left behind. Thankfully he left a lasting legacy that will live on forever. Mr. Barlee was an incredible human being, a witty and compassionate colleague and most importantly an exemplary British Columbian! Thank you Mr. Barlee for being a true teacher - British Columbia has lost a treasure.
July 4, 2012
Mr.Barlee loved history and He made social studies ,grade nine at Pen High the only class I looked forward to.He inspired me to love History,Thank you Mr.Barlee.
Lynne Harrison nee Porter
July 4, 2012
My sincere condolences to the Barlee family.
I never had the privilege to meet Bill, but I thoroughly enjoyed his show and his books - I read and re-read 'Gold Creeks and Ghost Towns' so many times that I've lost count (and still have that book today)!
He was a great citizen and advocate for BC, and will be missed.
Mike Hutchison
July 4, 2012
I have a chuckle every time I drive past Yale and think of that "dropped" bag of gold that never made it onto the steamer. This man pointed out the fabric that makes up our BC identity. He gave me all sorts of stories to tell my kids as we travel around BC. You did well Mr. Barlee.
July 3, 2012
Bill was the best boss I ever had and a good friend. Mike
July 3, 2012
It was an honour to have met such a wonderful person. Our condolences to Veronica, Laura and family.
Richard & Cathy Gould
July 3, 2012
Bill was one of the best cabinet ministers I worked with. Decent, dedicated, honest, helpful, caring. Our views on issues often overlapped and I was always captivated by his knowledge of our Province. I will miss him, his humour and wisdom. My condolences to the family.
Moe Sihota
July 2, 2012
My condolences to you and your family Veronica, take care.
Christine McCarthy
July 2, 2012
I never met Bill. When my wife and I would travel the Province, the Antique store owners would tell me I just missed him. This always came after I had asked to buy anything that could have been seen on Gold Trails & Ghost Towns TV show & Canada West Magazines.
Bill knew to acquire our Historic pieces. While we as a group did not know it was important to keep in British Columbia.
His inspiration gave me a lifetime of pleasure and now I collect our history stored in things...

Bye Mr. Barlee
John Mitchell
July 1, 2012
As young miners we have read all Bills
books and watched his shows learning
from his expert teachings wish I could have met Bill!I will be thinking of him on the famous rivers we will pan this year!
July 1, 2012
I am so sorry to hear that Mr. Barlee passed away, as others have said, he was one of a kind. Mr. Barlee was one of my teachers at PenHigh and had that incredible gift to make every class come alive - no matter what the topic and the field trips were the highlight of the year! Mr. Barlee was a gifted and passionate teacher and not just in the classroom. Thank you Mr. Barlee, for sharing your many stories!!
Janice Hagen Lawson
July 1, 2012
Mr. Barlee was a wonderful teacher at Pen Hi in Penticton for many years. He waa very funny and his knowledge on a variety of subjects was always interesting. He gave freely of this knowledge to all of us. I was so sorry to hear of his passing.
Michelle Van Doren
July 1, 2012
My condolences to the Barlee family. I'm a graduate of Penticton High School, and I was fortunate enough to have had Bill as a history teacher and coach. He was special, so dynamic and enthusiastic about teaching and coaching.

I have always thought of Bill as a great Canadian, as he truly walked the walk, trying to preserve B.C.s heritage, and through his work as an MLA. There are too few of us like him.
Gene Cormier
July 1, 2012
Very sorry to hear of Bill's passing. My wife and I were both very fortunate to have Bill as our teacher. We went on his archeological field trips--- her group actually found something. We enjoyed his TV program on BC history and later met him here in the Comox Valley on one of his NDP visits. I taught school for 34 years and had him as a roll model. I can only hope to be remembered half as fondly as we will remember Bill.
Mike & Lainie ( née Wensley) Laughlin
July 1, 2012
A great B.C. Citizen....he will be well remembered by so many.
Gary Scales
June 30, 2012
Ki suk kyukyit (good day)

Bill Barlee's contribution to British Columbia cannot be overstated. While his public service as a MLA was significant and admirable, it was his role in popularizing the province's history, in particular the history of the interior, that deserves our deepest appreciation and gratitude.

I grew up in Vernon and I cannot tell you how many times I watched Gold Trails and Ghost Towns. As a boy, when I heard that piano music playing, I knew I was in for an exciting story. Mike Roberts and Bill had such a natural rapport on the show. I felt as if I was living that history as Bill told the story, the history. I always wanted to meet him.

I am very sorry for the family. and would like to express my condolences. He was a one of a kind.


Troy Sebastian
Troy Sebastian
June 30, 2012
I am very sorry to hear of Bill's passing. He truly was a great British Columbian who contributed to our province in so many ways historian, author, political leader and teacher to name a few. A very rich life that his family can truly be proud of. My thoughts are with you today.
Shane Simpson
June 30, 2012
I am very sorry to see Bill has left us, the Province has lost a treasure.
My late partner and I spent many happy albeit cold and wet hours panning for gold on the banks of Granite Creek, Tulameen and Similkemeen Rivers with Bill and John. Those were great times.
My sympathy to the family.
Barb (Thomas) Hicks
June 30, 2012
Sorry to hear of Bill's passing. He was so very interesting to listen to on his tv show.K.M. Qualiicum Beach
June 30, 2012
So sorry to hear of Bills passing he will be missed, I will keep your family in my prayers.
D Anderson
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