This was a big event at the 108 in June of 1973. Do you know what it
June 26, 1973 was the official opening of the 108 11,400 sq.ft. indoor riding arena on Tatton Road near Watson Lake. On the left is Mal Pringle, unofficial mayor of the 108, to his left are the three men responsible for this “dream come true” horse complex, Mr. John Bull, Mr. Henry Block and Mr. Charles Smith. Along with a huge riding area, there are viewing stands to hold over 100 spectators, a caretaker’s apartment and lounge, plus stalls for 23 horses, 18 outdoor paddocks and a large outdoor arena. The occasion was celebrated with various horse shows including Quarter Horse competitions. It was a special thrill for locals when Henry Block’s horse, Rockys Champ, ridden by local Len Monical, won the open event. Some of the other highlights involved a 30 horse trail ride deep into Walker Valley and a good old fashioned barn dance with music by the Happy Wanderers, which drew over 400 participants.
Do you know the story of our Clydesdale Barn at the Heritage Site?
There is nothing normal about the Watson Clydesdale barn at our Heritage site, nor about Captain Geoffrey Lancelot Watson, the legendary man who had it built. He was a British Army Officer who had business holdings on Vancouver Island, but he fell in love with the Cariboo. He probably had family money from England. He was also a shrewd businessman and to the locals, seemed quite eccentric. He was more of an adventurer than a gold seeker and he may have seen himself as a bit of a swashbuckler. He was a tall 6’6″ bachelor, skillful with both guns and horses who could afford to indulge his hobbies. (See Watson Mansion Question # 1). For example, in about 1907, he purchased one of the first Detroit Cadillacs (for about $850) from Begg Motors in Vancouver and had it shipped to the 108. The story goes that when he got it running, he would drive up Walker Valley and roar out from behind trees and surprise his cowhands who were tending his cattle. He had about 10,000 head at that time, but his big love was horses. He owned polo ponies, sulky horses, and purebred Clydesdale, among others. Some reports say that he had up to 100 Clydesdales, some of which had won awards, ribbons etc. That number seems a lot, no matter, a huge barn was needed and the Watson barn, with 10 double stalls on each side of a corridor was built in 1908 and remains to this day as one of the biggest log barns in Canada.
After Captain Watson departed during the First World War the Clydesdale barn started to deteriorate from lack of use and repair. Fast forward to 1979, when Block Bros transferred the 7 acre Heritage Site to the Historical Society for $1. The dedication and enthusiasm of that group sought out the necessary funding and grants to have the building restored. In 1988, with money in place, they were able to hire local 108 log home builder Dennis Wick to undertake the restoration project. The building, (160 ft. x 40 ft.) had settled badly, about 40 inches and the bottom 5 feet of logs were rotten and needed replacing. Parts of the roof were missing or had caved in. To begin with Wick and his assistant Kai Remstead had to make the building safe to work in, so they removed the roof and with jacks started to lift the building, inserting hundreds of railway ties. Many of the original fir logs and beams needed replacement and in the end about three logging truck loads of weathered spruce logs were used where needed. It was tense work at times and every effort was made to preserve the historical integrity of the original barn, including the use of the original materials. As Wick pointed out on completion in 1991, he certainly had a new respect and appreciation for the workmanship, techniques, and dedication of the men who built the original Watson Clydesdale Barn.
Can you name any of the 108 residents who over the years have been recognized for their community service by receiving our Citizen of the Year Award?
This award has been presented to 108 residents for their generous community spirit. These are people in our community who have made a difference, perhaps through their talent, volunteerism, philanthropy, or some other contribution or endeavour that has made the 108 the wonderful community it is.
The Citizen of the Year Award was presented from 1982 to 2007, and there are now plans to re-establish this honour. If you would like to be part of the committee please contact us. First let’s salute and thank those great 108’rs who have made those generous contributions in previous years.
These early photos show the 108 Mile Roadhouse. Do you know or want to know about the adventurous and hardy people who lived there, back in those wondrous days of yore?
The top building, which was the original 108 Roadhouse, was located on
the east side of Highway 97 across from the Heritage Site. Keep in mind that many
of the dates used here are close to accurate, but different sources often show
slight variations. However, there is clear
evidence that this 108 property known as DL 76 was pre-empted by William James
Roper in 1863. Roper was an adventurous Englishman from Dorsetshire and had a
business moving freight along the gold trail between Lillooet and Barkerville. When he first saw the 108 property he was reminded
of home, so he made a claim to purchase it. He also considered this to be a
wise business decision as this property was well located for miners stopping over
on their way to recent gold discoveries in the Horsefly river. However, Roper
was not successful with his 108 property plans and in 1886 returned to the
freight business and sold the 108 Roadhouse property to Charles M. Beak. Beak, also an Englishman, originally landed
in California and found his way to the Cariboo by driving cattle and later
sheep north into B.C. Along the way he
met and married a young girl, Marie Johnson of Glencoe, Oregon. By this time Beak had some financial means and
with his new wife was able to purchase the 108 Mile House and get involved in
several other local business enterprises. They operated the Roadhouse, ran
cattle, dairy cows and shipped a large amount of butter to Barkerville, where
there was a substantial market. For a while, he also owned a butcher shop in
Barkerville and had a share in other roadhouses along the way, so he was a very
busy and energetic fellow. At some stage, perhaps after a tough winter, Beak
concluded that the Cariboo was not well suited to raising beef, so by 1878 the
Beaks had moved to the Nicola Valley, near Kamloops. While the exact dates are a little vague, it
is about this time that the nefarious illegal activities of Agnus MacVee and
her brother-in-law Al Riley were alleged to have taken place, at what was then
known as the ‘108 Hotel’. Now that is whole other story!
According to Lac La Hache post office records, William Walker was the owner and operator of the 108 telegraph permit in 1883, and probably bought the 108 earlier. There is not much information on Walker, although he and his wife Emily seem to have been busy entrepreneurs, operating the store, a blacksmith shop, a stock and dairy operation, the telegraph office and acting as an agent caring for horses for Bernard Express. Many have concluded that our Walker Valley was named after this gentleman.
Around 1890, Walker sold out to Stephen Tingley, owner of BC Express
Company, for $2500. Tingley, born in New Brunswick, had come to B.C. in 1861
looking for gold, but had no luck. He took a job as a stage coach driver for
the Bernard Express and became known as the “Whip of the Cariboo” for
driving stage coaches over the then hazardous roads. Eventually and somehow, he became the sole
owner of the express company and later created a barn service in places like
the 108 where he could rest, and rotate the horses used to pull the stage
coaches. Tingley installed his son Clarence on the 108 property to run the
store and act as agent for the company. In 1892 they tore down the Roper
roadhouse/hotel and erected a number of new buildings (post office, log barns,
bunk house, and blacksmith shop) on the west side of the road next to the 108 Lake.
In 1903, the property, now 1000 acres, was sold to Captain Geoffrey L. Watson, a wealthy English army officer. Watson discontinued the 108 as a roadhouse and turned it into a ranch where he bred purebred Clydesdale horses and ran cattle. During the very early 1900s, the impressive Clydesdale Barn was built for Watson as well as the majestic Watson Mansion. (For more information about the Watson Mansion see question #1.)
Sadly, Captain Watson was killed in the First War and his estate sold his 108 properties to Lord Egerton in 1917.
Did you know that at the 108 it took a village … a Viking Village … to raise a community?
You might have to be an old timer to have heard of the Viking Village at the 108. Chances are excellent that you have seen one of the early Hansen homes or perhaps driven into Hansen Court.
The Hansen Clan’s arrival to Canada began with Svend, who immigrated from Denmark in 1957. Then came the brothers Olaf, the eldest, Willi, and Borge, followed by Svend’s nephew, Mogens, two brothers-in-law, Ivan Peterssen and Frank Christensen, and Svend’s father-in-law, Frants Nielsen. They were all skilled carpenters by trade.
The family had built real estate offices for Block Bros. in Vancouver and through that connection became aware of the business opportunities at the 108 development.
The Hansens and many of their friends came to the 108 in the spring of 1969 when it was all still vacant land. Initially they slept in their trucks, tents, or in a small cluster of cabins located behind the 108 Mall. Nearby they built their manufacturing plant where they assembled many styles of attractive pre-manufactured recreational homes. The Hansen Clan were from Denmark, so naturally the settlement behind the 108 Mall became known as the Viking Village.
There were many more Danes who came and started up businesses and some are still here. Fondly referred to as the “Danish Mafia” they were all extremely hard working and honest individuals who got involved in every aspect of the 108 community.
The Danes had a hand in the construction of most of the 108’s major buildings, starting with the Clubhouse in 1969. The Hansens were also responsible for the construction of the 108 Building Supply mall complex, which officially opened 47 years ago on April 1, 1972 with more than 600 people in attendance for the event.
So, thank you to our mighty Vikings who played such a key role in raising our 108 Community. Here’s a photo of just a few of them in 1972.
The 108 Mile Ranch VFD will be conducting small controlled burns throughout 108 Greenbelt over the next several weeks to help prevent wildfires. The controlled burns will be done mainly on Tuesday evenings and incorporated with the VFD’s training nights. Thank you to the firefighters for giving of their time to keep our communities safe. Check out the newest addition to the 108 fleet – Tender 12!
Chris Haddad has been elected as the new Fire Chief of the 108 Volunteer Fire Department. The appointment is for a three year term and is effective April 1, 2019. Thank you Chris and thank you Chief Ian Henderson who agreed to complete the term of former Fire Chief Marcel Reid who moved from the area last fall.
Not that long ago, Sepa Lake was called Separation Lake. One of the first initiatives of Brock Bros. in 1969 was to dredge a canal between 108 Lake and Separation Lake. They then abbreviated to the more accurate name of Sepa Lake. Water levels increased and there was good boating between the lakes for many years.
There are 1922 survey maps (by Archibald, Galloway) which show both lakes with no waterway between the two lakes. Apparently, even in the 1960s, Sepa Lake was much smaller and was surrounded with fields that were cut for hay.