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Clydesdale Barn - 108 Mile House, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member BK-Hunters
N 51° 45.013 W 121° 20.984
10U E 613917 N 5734545
Quick Description: The 108 Mile House Heritage Site now has over a dozen heritage buildings on site, dating from 1867 to 1941.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 7/18/2019 9:13:42 PM
Waymark Code: WM10ZQD
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Windsocker
Views: 0

Long Description:
The original building on the site was the Post House, built on the north side of the highway in 1867 and moved to its present site in 1892. From 1875 until June of 1885 the building was operated as the "108 Hotel" by Agnus MacVee, Jim MacVee, and her brother-in-law Al Riley. Also in 1867 a log shed was built on the north side of the highway and moved to the present site in 1880, becoming the Store & Telegraph office. Further additions in 1880 were the Ice House and a Blacksmith Shop. The Small Log Barn was added in 1892, as was the wood framed Blacksmith Shop and the Bunkhouse. In 1903 the site was bought by Captain Geoffrey Lancelot Watson and in 1904 this ceased to be a Roadhouse and stopping place when Captain Watson turned it into a ranch, raising purebred Clydesdale horses and Highland Cattle. In 1908 the large Clydesdale Barn was erected. This log barn is valued as the largest log barn left in Canada.

This, the larger of the two barns on the property, was built in 1908 by Gilbert Monroe for Captain Watson to house his herd of 100 purebred inportd Clydesdales. After the Captain's death the barn remained in use until the late 1950s, possibly the early '60s. The 100 Mile House Historical Society had taken over the property in 1979 and by 1988 it was in extremely bad condition, but the Society wasn't about to give up on it. They obtained a $50,000 grant from BC Heritage Trust and hired a log home builder to restore the barn. That story is further below.

Thanks to that restoration, the 108 Mile House Heritage Site is now home to the largest remaining log barn in Canada.

The 160-foot-long log barn, built in 1908 by then-owner Captain Watson to house his collection of more than 100 Clydesdale horses, has value as the largest log structure of its kind left in Canada.
From Historic Places Canada
  • 1904 Built the 'Watson Manor' four miles away, at Watson Lake, and turned his attention to ranching.
  • 1904-08 "Tingley's 1892 large log BX Stable" burned down.
  • 1904 The 108 ceased to be a Roadhouse and stopping place. Captain Watson turned it into a Ranch. He was breeder of purebred Clydesdale horses and Highland Cattle.
  • 1905 Tore down the 'Roper' 1867 log stable north of the road and destroyed it.
  • 1908 The large log "CLYDESDALE BARN** was built by Gilbert Monroe of Ashcroft for Captain Watson.
  • 1915 Captain Watson was killed in WW1 in 1915.
  • From the 108 Mile House Heritage Site
A Clydesdale barn is brought back to life
by Tom Henry
One of the most impressive buildings at the the 108 Heritage Site is the Watson Clydesdale Breeding Barn, one of the largest log barns in Canada. It was erected in 1908 by Captain Watson, owner of a large ranch in the area, to house the 100 purebred Clydesdale horses he imported.

The Captain was apparently somewhat eccentric and also imported polo ponies in the hopes of introducing the sport to the area. Needless to say, the scheme didn't work. He was well liked, however, and sadly missed when he was killed in the First World War.

The estate was sold in 1915 to Lord Egerton and the barn continued in regular use for the several decades. By the early 1950s the effects of wind and water were taking a toll and the building's doors were removed to make it a shelter for cattle.

When the Monicals, a local ranching family, bought it in 1962 it was starting to sag badly and was rarely used. Block Bros. bought the building and land from the Monicals in 1969 and held onto it until 1979, when they sold the seven acre site to the 100 Mile Historical Society for $1. By 1988 the barn was looking like something out of a bad dream. Sections of the roof were caved in or blown off, the walls were splayed out and the base logs rotted away. The building had settled about 40 inches. Some locals were anticipating a good bonfire.

But the Historical Society wasn't about to throw the match. They lobbied various government agencies and early in 1988 received $50,000 from Heritage Trust. With that, they hired local log-home builder, Dennis Wick, to rebuild the wreck. It was a project, says Wick, that he had his doubts about. "It was the worst run down building I've seen in a long time. A lot of people thought it was write-off," he says. He describes the reconstruction as a "mega project."

For the next 10 months he and Kai Remstead, a helper, worked at recrecting the giant 160ft X40 structure. Unlike most reconstruction, however, a heritage project requires that original materials are used where possible, and that any items removed during work are replaced. A visitor to the barn today will find old logs, beams, and even nails in their original locations.

Wick's first task was to make the building safe to work in. So he took a loader and ripped the roof off. Then they took jacks and hundreds of railway ties and started lifting the building. It had sunk so much that they had to work on their hands and knees. Although the re-elevation went smoothly, there were many creaks and groans from the movement and several worrisome sounds.

"There were some tense moments," recalls Wick.

The first five feet of logs the whole way round had to be replaced. Since logs the quality of the original fir couldn't be found, weathered spruce was used instead. By the time the project was complete about 70 good sized logs—that's about three logging truck loads—were required. Many of the beams on the interior of the barn also needed replacing. Where the ground end of a support was rotted, a newer segment was joined. Others couldn't be salvaged. The largest of these was an 8x8 beam 40 ft long. Since a chainsaw wouldn't recreate the original hand hewn effect, Wick had to do it the hard way with a broad axe. He started with a log 20 inches at the butt and ended up hours later with a good set of shoulders and a respect for modem machinery.

"Hand hewing gave me an appreciation for sawmills," he says. This effort to preserve the historical integrity of the building cost a lot of time. Wick says it was much harder to try and save the original material than it would have been to use new products.

But the painstaking attention to detail did lead to some interesting discoveries. They found an inscription by Captain Watson, dated July 6,1909 on a joint and learned that the metal roofing was made especially for the project, with the Captain's name stamped on each sheet.

More importantly, Wick and his helper gained an insight into the way things were done in the old days. When they replaced a log 20ft up they used a loader and accomplished in minutes what would have taken a team of men and horses half a day to accomplish before. They found that accuracy counted then too, for there was only three inches difference in the four corner stones.

And they learned about work from replacing some of the 1,500 pieces of blocking, in the roof. They each would have been cut by hand.

"Somebody was doing a lot of cutting," says Wick. "I really appreciated what tbose guys did back then."

Now the barn is sturdy again, and another project will see the interior restored this summer. Wick says that if rain can be kept out, the barn should last well into the next century.

"It could last another 90 years," he says. Maybe then the Cariboo will be ready for a game of polo.
From a newspaper page at the site

Photo goes Here

Construction: Wood

Is this a 'working' barn?: Other (describe below)

Museum Display, once a working barn

Distinctive Features: Other (describe below)

Other Distinctive Features:
Largest log barn in Canada

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