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Letters: Regional heritage sites need protection
(re: Regional district documenting heritage sites, Western News, Nov. 06, 2013)
I noted that the regional district awarded $56,850 contract to a North Vancouver firm to identify the region’s historical sites. I suggest the project is a little too late as most of the sites have been allowed to deteriorate or were obliterated or burned along with any suggested economic development opportunities.
In 1986 the City of Penticton quietly moved in with a backhoe and demolished the original jail and courthouse on Van Horne Street.
The building would have been invaluable for its heritage value and heritage grants.
The historical hotels in Penticton have burned or have been demolished. Heritage homes are either restaurants or B&Bs. The SS Sicamous operates with City of Penticton grants. J.M. Robinson’s home in Naramata is successfully operated as the Naramata Heritage Inn.
One of the most important historical sites in the Okanagan Valley is the settlement of Priest at Garnett Lake. This 50-acre park needs greater recognition from the province and regional governments along with the Fur Brigade Linear Park.
Going west from Penticton the Green Mountain Stopping House barn is derelict beyond repair. It was never identified or were the townsites of Upper and Central Keremeos.
The restored Mascot Mine buildings are accessed by bus tours by the Upper Similkameen Band from the old brick school in Hedley. Copper Mountain and Allenby, mining centers near the town of Princeton, no longer exist.
There is money to be made in heritage sites.
Travelling south from Penticton there is the 1912 Hotel at Kaleden, the restored Gillespie house on the highway, and the T. Eaton Bassett house in Okanagan Falls.
The 1800s Beaucache log barn is on private property. Beside the road and not identified, fenced, or in any way protected is the chimney of the Keogan cabin. Keogan was the first settler in the area, he sold out to Tom Ellis. Few people are aware of the chimney let alone the significance of the stone structure.
It will eventually fall over. But we are Canadians, eh!
At Road 22 between Oliver are the derelict buildings of the Haynes-Lowe ranch, the first ranch in the Okanagan, possibly in B.C. The buildings have deteriorated beyond repair and will eventually be destroyed.
If the regional district, or the Vancouver firm, would like a more comprehensive documentation of our heritage sites please obtain a copy of, Heritage Tours, Skookum Publications 1991, or visit www.OkanaganHistoryGalley.com.
There are many people, like myself, interested in preserving and documenting our local history and heritage sites. I am willing to assist with any information needed to develop the interpretive signage necessary, or any other aspect of our valley’s heritage.