Cariboo Buckaroo

Cariboo Buckaroo is a 90-minute theatrical production from Victoria’s Theatre SKAM, a professional theatre company with a 19-year track record of presenting polished high-quality plays both in Canada and internationally.

This true tall tale is the story of three actual events in B.C.’s history, as told from the perspective of on an old hand who leads beef trains through the territory that is about to be named British Columbia. These three events are:

  • The arrival of the Overlanders to B.C., primarily the Rennie Party, who were stranded in the Chilcotin wilderness and left for dead,
  • The story of James Cameron, who transported the coffin containing his wife’s body, by sled, back to Victoria,
  • And the story of the Chilcotin War of 1864.

Over the course of a cattle drive, the old hand relates these tales in humourous and poignant fashion to a young greenhorn who longs to be a real buckaroo.

Creation of the play was begun in June 2008, with the support of professional theatres and artists in the Interior, and continues in Victoria between productions. As part of the creation process, playwright and producer Matthew Payne (a graduate of Quesnel Secondary School) visited the Cariboo-Chilcotin in October 2008, researching the play itself and commencing the development of a touring infrastructure. The most notable partnership was with Chief Marilyn Baptiste and the X’eni Gwet’in Nation, one of the six Tsilhqot’in Nations. The show subsequently toured to various locations in the BC Interior.

“This charming one-hander entertains as much as it informs—which is saying a lot, given the crash-course in B.C. history you’ll get between the many laughs and moments of insight.”

–John Threlfall, Monday Magazine 2009


Production Credits

Written & Performed by Matthew Payne*
Directed by Ross Desprez*
Lighting Design by Keith Houghton
Set Design & Props by Carole Klemm
Costume Design by Erin Macklem
Scenic Treatments by Diana Nielsen
Stage Managed by Erin Crowley

*Appears with the permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association

Sponsors and Acknowledgements

We thank the Coast Salish people for allowing us to live and work within their traditional territories.

Special thanks to the Xeni Gwet’in and Chief Marilyn for their ongoing collaboration and commitment to this project.

Thanks to The Chiefs, past – Biyil, Tilaghed, Taghed, Chayses, and Lha sasin – and present – Chief Marilyn Baptiste, Chief Ervin Charleyboy, Chief Francis Laceese, Chief Bernie Elkins, Chief Ivor Myers, and Chief Joe Alphonse.

Our gratitude also to Story Theatre; Roger William; David Williams; Friends of the Nemiah Valley; Norm, Nicolle and Flint; Rhonda; Graham; Kim; Marilyn Berglund; Diane Flack at Heritage House; Paul St. Pierre; Paul Gotro; Cindy Reid; Jennifer Lord; Darren Adam; The Belfry Theatre; David Ross; Mike Puhallo; Ken Mather; Estelle Shook; Veera Bonner; Gary, Vanessa, Jorja and Cole; Jennifer Reidle; the chief who loans us his truck; Andrea Huber; Christina Patterson; Mr. Justice David Vickers; Peter Pokorny; Eileen Salmons; Quesnel and District Museum; Kate Dutton for haberdashery assistance; Allison Bottomley; Brad and Aldous Johnson; Paul Terry; Croy and Co.; Project X; Bob Milne; Brian Brannon; Ted and Anne at Theatre Northwest; Naomi Campbell; Bonnie at Excalibur Arts; Karen at the Sunset Theatre; Janet Michael; Tim Sutherland; Hattie and Jack; Vic and Mary Ann.