William Allen Jones

William Allen Jones - The Barkerville Dentist
Pencil sketch by Gene Grooms, local artist (1994). Oberlin College Graduate and Barkerville’s first dentist. ©BC Black History Awareness Society, all rights reserved

William Allen Jones was the 1st dentist in B.C. (1886) to be granted a license under the British Columbia Dental Act.

William Allen Jones, was the oldest of three brothers who came to Salt Spring Island in 1859, pre-empting land on the west side of Ganges Harbour.

All three brothers were graduates of Oberlin College in Ohio, USA; William receiving his degree in 1857.  After leaving Salt Spring Island, William went to Barkerville when gold was discovered there. Apart from innovative hydraulic mining he stayed there to become known as “the Barkerville Dentist” or “Painless Jones.”

His brother Elias headed for the Cariboo gold rush in 1861 but returned to the United States after a couple of years, while his brother John Craven settled on Salt Spring Island for about 10 years as the 1st and only school teacher on the Island.

William did return to the United States after the Civil War ended in 1865. He visited Oberlin to continue the dental studies that he had started earlier. However, he did not stay.

He had found a home and the kind of life he wanted in western Canada. When Barkerville was restored as a gold rush town tourist attraction, the office of Dentist Jones, complete with chair and instruments became a feature on the main street.

In the British Columbia Directory of 1877 – 1889 he is listed as a miner but in recognition of the skills he had acquired as a dentist he was granted a licence on June 26, 1886 under the British Columbia Dental Act, although he may have been practicing dentistry as early as 1865. He had the distinction of being the first person to register under the act. He died of pneumonia in 1897 in Barkerville and is buried there in the Williams Creek Cemetery.

wood framed office sign hanging from post
Courtesy of Peter Schildwächter, Düsseldorf, Germany

Quick Facts

First Registered Dentist in British Columbia
Nick Name: Painless Jones
Date of Birth: 1831
Place of Birth: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Date of Death: 1897
Place of Death: Barkerville, British Columbia
Education: Bachelor of Arts, 1857 Oberlin College, Ohio
Father: Allen Jones
Mother: Temperance Jones
Siblings: James Munroe, John Craven, Elias Toussaint, Sophia, and 1 unnamed