Robert Babcock moved back to 100 Mile House from the coast in 2006 and has been volunteering with the 100 Mile & District Historical Society, which runs the 108 Heritage Site, ever since.
“My father had been right from the get-go so I kind of followed his footprints,” he says. “It always posed an interest for both of us.”
Babcock adds that he’s a history buff and was born and raised in the area. He’s currently the president of the society.
“Basically, I’m blessed with a job that allows me to go down there and take care of some of the things that a lot of times people don’t want to do.”
Babcock said he’s working on gardening and trimming trees and while the museum isn’t open to the public, with the way it’s set up, he can’t really stop the public from accessing the site, unlike Barkerville or Hat Creek Ranch.
The timing of the pandemic isn’t great, he says.
“It’s just so bad for us this year because this was kind of a 2020 to get over the hump from 2017 being shut down and everything. 2018 wasn’t the best. We started picking up in 2019 and then boom.”
Talking to people is one of his favourite parts of being part of the society.
“I meet people from around the world or people that have had some association with the place. I just like, you know, pointing out the things that we no longer do that were very essential to our life. When it comes down to it, there’s just four things that we needed and nowadays we’ve got all these other things,” he says referring to food, water, shelter and fire. “If the power went out tomorrow, what would we do?”
The majority of buildings were moved there while he was moving around and his father was with the society, he says.
That’s when they rebuilt the big Watson Barn, brought in the schoolhouse and built the church.
“During my time here is when we brought in the conservation officer cabin.”
The cabin was built in 1941 by game wardens Jack Stewart and Walter Gill and was completed in five days with hand tools. It was moved to the heritage site in 2016, which made for good TV, says Babcock, referencing the TV show Timber Kings.
The history is very important in the area, he says.
“It’s not old history. It’s relatively new in the world but it’s important history,” he says, “and hopefully it will continue.”