108 Mile Heritage Site – Cariboo

108 Mile Heritage Site – Cariboo

The 108 Mile Heritage Site at 108 Mile Ranch is pretty different to other places we have been sightseeing in BC! It is a historic site (a bit like an outdoor museum) showcasing a fabulous collection of 13 buildings dating from mid-twentieth century right back to the 1860s. A few of the historic buildings were built here; While others have been moved here elsewhere in the Cariboo region.

This used to be a stopping point on the Cariboo Waggon route for the Cariboo gold rush. I loved see a slice of Canada’s history when the architecture was rugged, but beautiful.

Although the oldest buildings have been on this location since the 1860s, 108 Mile Ranch only became a heritage site in the 1980s. In 1979 the site was sold to the 100 Mile & District Historical Society for $1. Since then, the Historical Society has maintained the buildings.

108 Mile Heritage Museum

The first building is the 105 Mile McNeil Roadhouse that was moved here in 1979 to become the Heritage site’s main museum. It is filled with artefacts, documents and photos from the 1860s to the early 1900s.

Post House

One of the oldest buildings, the Post House has the most interesting (and grizzly) history. It was built as an Inn on the opposite side of the road in 1867; Then from 1875 to 1885 it was known as the 108 Hotel, run by Agnus and Jim MacVee along with Agnus’ brother-in-law Al Riley.

The first nasty (if lucrative) scheme for the MacVees was to kidnap young women, lock them upstairs and then sell them to miners who wanted to spend the night with them. The 108 Hotel was also used as a base to rob and murder unsuspecting miners on their return south, when they were laden with gold. Over 59 people were murdered by the trio (with over $150,000 worth of gold buried around this area) before they were caught.

After that turbulent start, the 3-storied Hotel was torn down. The logs were then used to build the current Post House (and log house) here in 1892.

Telegraph Office and Store

The rest of the wood from the original 108 Hotel (from 1867) was used to make this log shed, that later became the Store & Telegraph office.

The man who built it, William Walker was a telegraph operator, dairy farmer and trader. Rumors said he was looking for the gold buried by Agnus MacVee.

Bunkhouse

I don’t have much information about the bunkhouse, apart from that it was built in 1892.

Fabulous covered bridge

At the edge of the property there is a gorgeous covered bridge built by the 108 Mile Ranch Lions Club. Head this way to hike around 108 Mile Lake.

Clydesdale Barn

My favourite building is the 49m-long log barn. This was built for Captain Geoffrey Watson in 1908 for his 100 Clydesdale horses, when he used this property as a ranch. It is the largest log building of its type in Canada.

133 Mile House Schoolhouse

This one-room schoolhouse was built in 1938 by ranchers and moved to the 108 Heritage Site in 2003. The school started with 15 students and was in-use until 1956.

One day it was so cold we were sitting around the stove (round barrel) reading and I looked down the end of my skirt started to burn.” Eep! You can read first hand accounts like that about the school and how they moved it here.

Trappers Cabin

Another building that was relocated here is the trappers cabin built by Everett Lee Greenlee in the 1930s. It is built from gorgeous cedar logs with a sod roof. This was used as a home in the winter months (Nov-Feb) when Grenlee and his wife, Edna Marie set trap lines to catch squirrels, weasels, martins, fox lynx, coyotes and occasionally cougars.

Blacksmith Shop

This is one of the buildings that was added to the ranch by William Walker in the 1892, along with an Ice House. Look up for some huge skulls.

Historical equipment

Another recent addition is a grey pavilion with wire walls that houses a portable sawmill, a truck and a tractor. A short distance away there is also a collection of farming and ranching equipment donated from other farms and ranches in the Cariboo region.

Historical Society Heritage Church

The log-chapel was built in 2012 by the 100 Mile and District Historical Society along with funding from local businesses and Northern Development. It cost $85,545, and left the 108 Mile Heritage Site with a place to display an altar, lectern, pews and font from 1904. The goods were rescued from an Anglican church in the Nicola Valley (to the South of here.)

If you fancy it, you can even get hitched here.

Watson Barn

Walking back towards the museum there is a second impressive log barn. This one was built in 1908 and has a cool, two-story design.

We visited the 108 Mile Heritage Site in October, when lots of the buildings were shut up. But if you visit in the summertime, it looks like you can explore inside. You can learn more about the gold rush and the ranchers that lived in nineteenth and early twentieth century BC.

Then, if you also fancy a walk (we always do!) There is a trail around 108 Mile Lake where you can stretch your legs and see the 108 Mile Ranch from afar.

It’s pretty cool to think this location started off as a stop-off for miners on their trips North for the Cariboo Gold Rush. I mean, as long as they didn’t travel alone and get murdered by Agnus MacVee! We loved stepping back in Canadian history. I hope you will too.

If you’d like to read more about this fascinating location, start with the history section of the 108 Mile Heritage Site website. The Williams Lake Tribune has more information about the murders. This waymarking site also has more information about how all this became an outdoor museum.

42 thoughts on “108 Mile Heritage Site – Cariboo

  1. Great Post ! I have read your other posts which are really informative for any traveler. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful informative information on the blog.

  2. Definitely a reminder that as a Canadian I need to explore more of my own backyard! I love these historical wooden buildings!

    1. Pretty gorgeous aren’t they!? I didn’t know about the murders when we visited, otherwise I would have been on the look out for gold and ghosts too šŸ˜€

  3. Oh my goodness these houses have some horror histories behind them. Glad to hear they are just historical sites today.

    1. Yeah mad isn’t it. I guess the main building where the murderers lived was taken down and re-built…so maybe it doesn’t quite count!?

  4. The stories behind some of the buildings are quite terrible. I do love that they saved the buildings instead of tearing them down though. I agree about the Clydesdale barn being a favorite.

  5. This was so fascinating to read. I had no idea a site existed like this in Canada. The historical information you provided was a little scary, but interesting. They preserved the sites well.

    1. Yeah, we didn’t know any of that when we visited! Later when I did more research I was like “HOW MANY MURDERS!?”

    1. I totally agree. You don’t get as many historical buildings in Canada (compared to what I am used to in the UK) but what they have is sooo cool!

  6. Wow, this seems like a fascinating place, with lots of historic interest! Loved the funny tidbits, like the building being sold for a dollar. Adding this to my list of places to see in Canada on our next trip.

    1. Yay thanks Jenn! If you’re interested in the Gold Rush, driving North from Lillooet is really cool!

  7. I love history so this looks like the perfect site for me to visit! It would be so interesting to walk around and learn more about Canadian history in this area.

    1. Thanks Krista! I think you’d find it interesting how different it is from Europe 100-150 years ago!

  8. There is some truly crazy history at 108 Mile Heritage Site! And I do love this type of rustic architecture. The school house is unbelievable!

    1. Oooh nice! Let me know when you start planning if you need help. There are so many fab family friendly spots in BC.

  9. Thank you for sharing this Josy! I am fascinated by historical building so enjoyed reading this, especially since I am not familiar with Canadian history. Lots of terrible things happened in the past but I am glad the sites are still there so people know.

    1. Thanks Mayi! It’s pretty interesting how rugged and different it is when you are used to historical buildings in Europe (or for you in Asia!)

  10. You have added another interesting spot for us to visit in BC. The 108 Mile Heritage Site with its buildings back to 1860ā€™s would appeal to our interest in the gold rush period. The buildings are in great shape for their age.

    1. Oooh I didn’t know you are interested in the Gold Rush period! I have a feeling you will love this whole Cariboo region!

  11. It’s so fun to see and learn about historic site and old barns. That log church is absolutely beautiful!

  12. What an interesting place to visit with all those historic buildings and historic equipment. The history of the old Post House sounds super sketchy and Iā€™m glad its use has changed over time.

  13. What a fascinating place to visit! 108 Mile Heritage Site looks like such an interesting place to explore! I’d love to visit and admire the buildings – they look so quaint! Thanks for sharing this lovely gem!

  14. That Post House has quite the fascinating and scandalous history! That is a lot of murders for one location. I love the look of the Trappers Cabin with its sod roof. I really enjoy visiting places like this and learning about its past!

    1. Yeah I loved the trappers cabin too. It reminds me off the old bog houses where we used to live in Ireland.

  15. This is cool! I didn’t know anything about the Cariboo Gold Rush before reading this, but I’d definitely be interested in visiting if I’m in the area. I love learning about history on my travels.

    1. I guess the Canadian gold rushes get a bit overshadowed by the gold rushes in the USA! We didn’t know about it either before we moved to BC.

  16. What an awesome and interesting post!! I so enjoyed all the history and the log built structures are just gorgeous. I would love to visit here one day.

  17. Wow, what an interesting but disturbing history of the inn! I wonder if there’s some murder mystery podcast out there about it? I am always amazed by old log buildings that are still standing after 100+ years, they just have a beauty about them that I love.

  18. This looks like such a cool place to visit in BC! I love the variety of styles representing the various time periods, and it looks like the buildings have all been really well preserved. The Clydesdale Barn is probably my favorite structure too based on your pictures. I also think it’s kind of crazy the 108 Mile Ranch sold for $1 in 1979!

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