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This page last updated May 31, 2013

© Michael Kluckner

Sketched 2002: Just across the tracks (closer to the river) from the St. John the Divine Church, the centrepiece of historic Yale, is one of the oldest houses in the province. Built about 1863 for Johnny Ward, a teamster with the famed BX (Barnard's Express), the modest house only gives away its approximate age by its shape – side gables and a hipped-roof front porch. It is unadorned with fancy trim of any kind (except for chamfered porch posts), and its original siding has been covered with asphalt or asbestos shingles. It was purchased about 1992-3 by the provincial government and is used as the home for the curator of Historic Yale, the museum complex including St. John the Divine Church.

There is more to write about Yale and the attempts to purchase property and put together a historic precinct. Since the 1980s, a number of landmarks have been lost, including the On-Lee House, which burned down several years ago. And, as announced in the Spring of 2002, the provincial government is "devolving" all its heritage sites in BC to non-governmental operators – without, it's fair to say, providing them with any significant funding sources.

Update, August 2013: the restored Ward House was dedicated and opened at a ceremony on August 18th as part of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Cariboo Road. I discovered that the 1863 house burned down in 1880 but was rebuilt to the same plan immediately thereafter. So, not quite as old but still one of the oldest couple of dozen buildings on the BC mainland.

Panel installed in front of the Ward House. Inexplicably, my little watercolour is identified as being from 1900.

From Sara Gilbert, Project Manager, Ward House Restoration Project, and President, Yale & District Historical Society, 2013: I just wanted to give you an update on the Ward House.  I have included a picture part way through restoration/conservation.  The painting has now been completed (although I have learned that the trim colour was originally dark green from scrapings I have since taken—thanks to the Heritage 101 course I took with the Vancouver Heritage Foundation recently); and there is a picket fence surrounding the house.  Landscaping is currently taking place, and the house is being “staged” as it would have been at the end of the 19th century.  It is set for an official opening in August, when the 150th celebration of the Cariboo Wagon Road is set to take place, as well as the official 150th celebration of the consecration of the St. John the Divine Church.

150th Anniversary Celebration of St. John the Divine and the Cariboo Wagon Road: August 17th and 18th, 2013

On Saturday August 17, join the Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning for a historic guided bus tour of the Cariboo Wagon Road. This will be a day event and includes a catered lunch. The tour will finish up at the Yale Historic Site with a traditional salmon bbq.). BBQ tickets are available by contacting our office.Sunday August 18, 2013, visit St. John the Divine where a special service will be held to celebrate our 150th Anniversary. The service will be followed by refreshments and a cake cutting. Throughout the weekend visit the Living History camp and watch historical re-enactments by Black Powder and the Royal Engineers.

Historic Yale website

An earlier note from 2012: I have thoroughly enjoyed many of your art works in the “Vanishing British Columbia” series, both online and in book form.  My husband and I have crossed the Sumallo River and trekked over to Bill Robinson’s cabins and I am currently involved in the restoration of the Johnny Ward house.  Whatever we can do to save the heritage buildings and sites in Yale, we are doing.  Your work promotes interest and passion in British Columbians, and I would like to thank you for the beautiful way you do it.

The Yale toll house for the Cariboo Road, 1938, photographer unknown

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Artwork and text ©Michael Kluckner, 2001, 2002