I spent a long afternoon in Yahk in the fall of 2000 with the sketchbook. There were a few old "main street" buildings including the hotel with its "Horny Owl" saloon, a couple of log homes in good repair, a few streets of trailers and small houses, and this building, more derelict than I've painted it, standing in the tall grass next to the hotel. It is a fine building, and I wondered if anyone knew whether it was built for the local railway manager, or whether it was a provincial government building of some sort? It didn't look like it is going to last. Even the tarps covering the roof (which I didn't bother painting) were full of holes. Pity.
According to Rita Dickson, author of The Unforgettable Memories of Yahk, it was the Provincial Police post and residence, for a single constable and his family, and was built about 1910. According to Nicola Finch, webmaster of Yahk on Line, the property is owned by some local people who hope to fix it up.
The earliest records I've been able to find in the Provincial Government Archives involve the construction of a "Yahk lock-up" in 1919 (GR-0054, Box 50, file 641), with additions done in 1927 (GR-0054, Box 6, file 96). There were also provincial police reports filed from Yahk in 1919, 1920 and 1921 (GR-0445, Box 57 file 12, Box 62 file 19, and Box 67 file 21 respectively).
Nicola and David Finch borrowed a copy of the complete plans from Stan Junglas, former owner of the lockup and owner of the Yahk Hotel, which are posted on their site.
The rumour is that there are a couple more of these lock-ups in the province--does anyone know where? There is definitely the Burns Lake lock-up--a different style from this one.
Detail of the 1927 plans, showing the addition of an extra gable to the right of the 1919 building to create accommodation for the Provincial Police officer and his family. Jones and Doris of Cranbrook built the 1919 section for a total contract price of $3,000.00. Doris Construction Co. of Windermere added to and renovated the building in 1927 for $1,856. The 1919 contract specified that the contractor was to include in his pricing "the collecting of two double steel cells from the railway siding at Yahk."
Henry Whittaker was chief architect for British Columbia's Department of Public Works, and would have supervised the creation of both sets of plans. The 1927 ones reproduced here were by junior "P. Philip."
1927 floorplan--the addition on the right
Thanks to Don Wilson for putting me in touch with Rita Dickson, and to Nicola Finch, webmaster of Yahk on Line.
Yahk's main street, photographed in the
1940s by Mr. Lithgoe.
This is the building that, stripped of its porch, is the current hotel with its "Horny Owl" saloon.
The view of the Provincial Police building on the far side is blocked by the hotel.
The buildings in the distance have all been demolished and the forest has crept back in to the roadside.
Another 1940s photograph by Mr. Lithgoe.
The other hotel illustrated above is visible in the background.
Dick Sommerfeldt, his wife Rhoda, and their son Don along with his wife Melanie and their 3 children live there.
There are original murals from the old hotel still adorning the interior walls.
|From Janet Baxter, 2016: I am writing to find contact
information for Rita Dickson. I met Rita and Tom many years
ago while visiting my cousin Cam Dickson near Clearwater. My
grandfather, Silas, was Tom’s brother. As in many situations
as we get older, I am hoping to find a photo and possibly history
of Silas. I was brought to the US as a child and my contacts
with my Canadian family are sparse. I saw that you
referenced Rita as a source for your book on Yahk and I am hoping
you might have an address or email you could share.
From Mel Chandler, 2016: I was born in 1944 and at that time my parents and my two older siblings lived there (Mother went to Creston to stay with her folks for my birth there). My father had transferred there to take over the provincial liquor store there some years before. The liquor store was located in the old jail lockup and we lived in the same building. We probably left there when I was 4 or 5. The last time I visited there was about 1992-3 and could not find the building. The new hotel there was a derelict and the old hotel was still being used as a bar/saloon.