Thanks to a lot of determination, co-ordination and hard work, the 108 Heritage Site will have a new attraction ready for viewing on B.C. Day (Aug. 1).
The BC Conservation Officer Service, Pioneer Log Homes (Timber Kings TV show) and the 100 Mile & District Historical Society got together to rescue a 75-year-old Wardens Cabin from the Stobie Lake area about 35 kilometres west of the Gang Ranch, repaired it and put it on the 108 Heritage Site.
The cabin was built on Sept. 25, 1941 by Game Wardens Jack Stewart and Walter Gill who were at that time posted in Ashcroft, says Conservation Officer (CO) Darrell Ashworth who is based out of Williams Lake.
“They built it in five days and all by hand out in the middle of nowhere. It is a testament to them and the CO Service – what it was then and what it is today.”
Noting Stewart and Gill were tasked with building patrol cabins for the area, Ashworth explains they built three cabins in one year – one near Clinton and another near Lillooet because that’s where they were stationed, and they built the Stobie Lake cabin a little further north and near the Gang Ranch.
“This is the only one that survived as the other two rotted away. This one is the last one remaining that was built in that era in all of British Columbia that’s in this kind of shape.
“We had another one down in the Flathead River, but in 1996, it was washed away in a flood.
He says the Stobie Lake cabin has been an attraction for COs who come to the Cariboo-Chilcotin because they like to travel out to the area to see it.
Ashworth says he made the tour when he arrived in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Zone 10 years ago.
“We looked at the cabin. It’s just been a cool piece of history and it’s been there for a very long time. Every year, you go back and you worry about whether it’s still going to be there.
“I just thought we have to do something with it and wondered if we could move it out of there and [preserve it for historical purposes].”
Noting he knew Bryan Reid Sr. of Pioneer Log Homes based in Williams Lake, Ashworth says he drew up some plans, presented them to Reid and he liked them.
“The generosity of that company is amazing.”
Then he approached 100 Mile & District Historical Society president Ulli Vogler and asked if she was interested in receiving the cabin and, of course, she was very interested.
“So, we started the project in January and here we are installing it in the middle of July.”
Reid says he and Ashworth went and took a look at the cabin.
“It looked difficult enough, so I thought we might as well try it. It had sunk in 20 inches of mud in the back end … and the road, it rained and rain and rain.
“We just had a bear of a time trying to get it out. The road was just over a kilometre from the main road; it had never been gravelled – it was a cow trail.”
Once they got the cabin slung on the heavy duty fork lift, Reid says it took them five to six hours to move the cabin one km back to the main road.
He says the cabin weighed around 8,000 pounds and the machine weighed 30,000 pounds. That’s 20 tons in the mud, he adds, so it was a slow crawl.
“There was a lot of frustration, but once you get it started, there’s no stopping. It was a real group effort because the whole bottom was rotted out.”
Ashworth says the experience was like swimming with sharks.
“It scares the heck out of you when you’re doing it, but at the end, it was pretty cool.”
Reid says they took the cabin to their Williams Lake site and put three rounds on one side and two on the back and two on the other side.
“It’s hard to do from the top down. They selected replacement logs but had to treat with a greying agent to ensure log colour match was good.”
He notes they put in 200 hours of work on the cabin at the Williams Lake site.
“You know it lasted 75 years in the bush. Now that it’s on a decent foundation and it’s going to have a good roof again, it will probably last another 250 years and people will be able to appreciate it for that long.”
Reid says he remembers staying in the cabin one night when he was hunting as a young man. The weather was socked in, so he knew he and his hunting partners had to spend the night.
“We had to shoot a pack rat that night and the bullet hole may still be in that cabin. A lot of people used that cabin over the years, and for some people, it was survival – a matter of life and death.
Pioneer Log Homes donated its time and effort to get the cabin from Stobie Lake to the 108 Heritage Site.
The setup was being filmed and will be featured on the Timber Kings television show, likely in a segment early in 2017.
“We donate to a lot of causes; we don’t just build houses. We’re an integral part of the community.
“I drive by here quite often, and when I do, I’ll give a little wink to that cabin.”
Vogler says getting the cabin is a real prize for the 100 Mile & District Historical Society.
“It’s amazing; over the top! It’s a wonderful addition to the 108 Heritage Site to have a 75-year-old cabin.”
When Ashworth asked if Vogler was interested in the cabin, she says it wasn’t a matter of if they wanted it, it was a matter of where they were going to put the cabin, so people will be able to see it when the park their vehicles.
“We are so blessed with the support of businesses and from Conservation Officer Service and the pioneers.”
Vogler says they just need to decorate it and get the cabin ready for the Aug. 1 grand opening.
There will be a grand opening and re-dedication of the Stobie Lake Wardens Cabin at the 108 Heritage Site on BC Day at 11 a.m.