Despite some setbacks from the 2017 wildfires the Lac la Hache Historical Society managed to complete work on the Felker Historic Homestead at Mile 118 for a Canada 150 grant by November and is currently doing work for a Grant-for-Assistance from the Cariboo Regional District.
The homestead is primarily open during the garlic festival, but the society is working on more interpretive and restoration work so they can have it open more often, says Marilyn Buyar, the society secretary.
The Canada 150 grant improvements included a wheelchair ramp to enable access to the main floor by those with mobility issues, a railing around the boardwalk to improve safety of visitors, a second set of access stairs to the deck, handrails along the stairways inside the farmhouse, and a site sign at the entrance to the grounds and was done by contractor Pat Melanson.
The Grant-for-Assistance upgrades are expected to be completed by July include refinishing interior floors and installing interpretive signs indoors.
“This work all started about 1996 … the Highway was going to be widened and the highway was going right through the middle of the homestead.”
The buildings were going to be destroyed so they were moved across the highway and put on a new foundation, says Buyar.
“In the late 1990s, a huge amount of work was done by the historical society, mostly different people from those that are involved now. They did the bulk of that work just making sure that they were saved. So we are excited. We’re excited that now that the buildings are secure and recent grants have helped us make sure the barn is more secure. Now that the buildings themselves are safe, we’re excited about moving ahead with interpretive work so that we can open the buildings up more often to the public.”
There are very few of these original ranches left for the public to visit and the society recognizes that the homestead is in the midst of a historically important ranching area, says Buyar.
A community celebration is planned for mid-September to mark the completion of both projects, says Buyar.
The society’s next goal is to furnish the lower floor to reflect the time period from 1884 to 1918.
The homestead was established in 1884 along the Cariboo Wagon Road, provided services to those on their way to the goldfields and supplying produce and other necessities to Barkerville.
The Lac la Hache Historical Society welcomes new members with an interest in local history.
Please contact Judy Boehm at 250-396-7298 or Marilyn Buyar at 250-706-2834 for more information. The next meeting is at the historic site on Tuesday, May 1 at 10 a.m.
With files from Marilyn Buyar.