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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.