History

A Condensed History of the 108 Heritage Site

1863-1915 District Lot 76 and the Buildings at the 108 Heritage Site

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1863 -1871
  1. 1863 William J. Roper pre-empted 320 acres D.L. 76
  2. 1867 Built log 108 Roadhouse ("108 Hotel") north of the road. (Across the hwy. from the present day 108 Heritage Site).
  3. 1867 Built log stable and log shed north of the road (Across the hwy. from this site).
  4. 1871 Quit 108 moved to Cherry Creek near Kamloops.
1871 -1880
  1. No evidence of ownership
1875 -1885
  1. 1875 "108 Hotel" ran by AGNUS MACVEE. Jim MacVee, and her brother-in-law Al Riley till June 1885.
  2. 1880 Evidence that William Walker owned the 108.
1880 -1891 WALKER
  1. 1880 WILLIAM WALKER PRE-EMPTED 320 acres D.L. 76. He was a telegraph operator, stockraiser, dairy farmer, trader and 'BX Agent'.
  2. 1880 Built log dairy **ICE HOUSE** on this site.
  3. 1880 Tore down "1867" Roper log shed" north of the road and re-assembled it on this site for the ** store and ** TELEGRAPH OFFICE ** Rumor has it, he was looking for gold buried by Agnus MacVee.
  4. 1880 Black Smith Shop
  5. 1891 Walker sold the 108 on December 30 to Stephen Tingley for $320.00.
1891-1903 TINGLEY
  1. 1891 STEPHEN TINGLEY bought D.L. 76 (108) and his son Clarence ran itCLARENCE was a telegraph operator, 'BX Agent', dairy farmer, stockraiser, storekeeper and hotel keeper.
  2. 1892 Tore down "Roper" '1867' Hotel" north of road, & re-assembled on this site for **108 POSTHOUSE** with a single story extension that contained the kitchen and eating area. This extension has not (as yet) been replaced by the Society.
  3. 1892 Built **SMALL LOG BARN** on this site.
  4. 1892 Built large log BX Stable south of road. This log structure burned down 1904-1908 and was situated in the exact spot the **105 HERITAGE HOUSE** is located.- Built frame blacksmith shop- Built log "BUNKHOUSE"
  5. 1903 Clarence Tingley sold D.L. 76 (108) September 23 to Captain Watson (including 13 other lots) for $11,000.
1903 -1915 WATSON
  1. 1903 CAPTAIN GEOFFREY LANCELOT WATSON bought WATSON District Lot 76.
  2. 1904 Built the 'Watson Manor' four miles away, at Watson Lake, and turned his attention to ranching.
  3. 1904-08 "Tingley's 1892 large log BX Stable" burned down.
  4. 1904 The 108 ceased to be a Roadhouse and stopping place. Captain Watson turned it into a Ranch. He was breeder of purebred Clydesdale horses and Highland Cattle.
  5. 1905 Tore down the 'Roper' 1867 log stable north of the road and destroyed it.
  6. 1908 The large log "CLYDESDALE BARN** was built by Gilbert Monroe of Ashcroft for Captain Watson.
  7. 1915 Captain Watson was killed in WW1 in 1915.

The 108 Hotel

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The Murder Mystery of the 108 Hotel

 

AS RUMOR HAS IT:

Verdict – GUILTY!
Sentence – The prisoner shall be hanged by the neck until dead!

 

al_rileyFor his complicity as one of a trio of brutal and greedy serial killers, Al Riley met his maker on the gallows at Kamloops in 1895. The yellowing court document that records the sentence hides the drama that was enacted over a number of years at the 108 Mile Hotel, a stopping place on the Cariboo Wagon Road.

   The 108 Mile Hotel or Post House as it was known then, was built in the 1860’s primarily to serve the host of prospectors and opportunists either going to or returning from the Cariboo Gold Fields. Being so close to the 100 Mile Rest Stop it was probably not used by the stagecoaches that plied the Cariboo Wagon Road. However, its proximity to the easily accessible lake and abundant grazing made it an ideal stopover for the huge strings of pack mules that carted supplies to the gold fields. (Recent work on the site lead to the discovery of a well preserved mule shoe which would definitely have been used by a muleteer such as the famous “Cataline”. Mules would not have been shod for work around the hotel.)

   The men who drove these mule trains were tough and hard working. They were known as hard drinkers as well. “Cataline,” whose real name was John Jacques Caux, would, before finishing a whole bottle of cognac, rub some onto his hair to help it grow. (It obviously worked, as photographs in his later years show him with a full head of hair!)

   As well as offering the usual food, board, and lodging, the 108 Hotel had a reputation for cheap girls and liquor. In later years it was to be known for the many murders that were perpetrated there.

 

Selling Services

  agnus_macvee In 1875 the hotel was run by Agnus MacVee, assisted by her husband, Jim MacVee, and her son-in-law Al Riley. Agnus was, apparently, a large and very strong Scotswoman who had come to Canada to escape justice in her native Scotland for alleged murders and beatings.

   Girls were extremely scarce in the gold fields and Agnus made these her stock in trade. It is said that if they did not work for her willingly she would physically capture them, chain them in the attic, and then sell their charms to lonely miners, either for the night or as a “wife” to cook and clean and keep him warm during the long winters!

   It was in this year, 1875 that the first murder attributed to this trio occurred. In March, Henry Dawson, who had a prosperous claim near Barkerville, arrived at the hotel with $11,000 in gold.

   Whether he wanted to buy a girl outright or just for the night we will never know, but because he was obviously rich he was shot in the back and his gold and horse were stolen. They then took his body and dumped it in a nearby lake. Al Riley then reported that Henry Dawson’s horse had been found running loose near the hotel. A search party the following day found his “battered body in a lake between the 100 Mile House and the 108 Post House.” At the time it was listed as just one of many unsolved murders.

   During the next 10 years Agnus MacVee was instrumental in the murders, by gunshot and probably poison, of over 50 miners and gamblers and an unknown number of women. The magnitude of these atrocities went unnoticed because they murdered and robbed only those who were traveling alone. Countless hundreds of miners died or went missing on their way to or from the goldfields and there was often no one waiting at home for them, to notice whether they returned or not.

Skullduggery

   jim_macveeApparently Agnus had an eye for men as well, and this could have been the cause of her downfall. In the late spring of 1885 a successful gambler from Fort Langley named MacDonald stopped at the 108 Hotel and purchased a 19-year-old girl from Agnus for $4000. Instead of murdering him and taking his gambling stakes, she let him and the girl leave for the gold fields.

   Agnus may have fallen for this blonde-haired opportunist, and hoped to see him again when he left the gold fields. Maybe she intended to kill him on his return when he had divested the miners of their gold! However, when McDonald and the girl left the hotel they were followed by Agnus’ husband Jim. Several miles up the road he shot and killed McDonald and stole the rest of his money. The young girl managed to escape unharmed.

   When Jim MacVee returned to the hotel he was unable to keep his secret from Agnus. The next morning she spiked his breakfast with poison and he died in agony for his exploits. Agnus and her son-in-law were loading Jim’s body onto a wagon when a number of North West Mounted Police rode into the yard.

   The girl, who had escaped when Jim murdered McDonald, had met the patrol in her desperate flight to safety. She identified the dead Jim MacVee as McDonald’s murderer. She also accused Agnus MacVee and Al Riley of murdering other travelers of the Cariboo Wagon Road, and of murdering some of the less cooperative girls.

   A search of the hotel revealed some of its grisly secrets. Several girls were found chained in the attic. McDonald’s money was found in the hayloft where Jim had hidden it. Bones and teeth were discovered in the ashes of some of the fire places, where Agnus and Al had burned bodies of unfortunate girls. Dawson’s pocket watch with an inscription was also found that put the blame for his murder pointing towards Agnus. Both Agnus and Al were arrested and taken to Fort Kamloops to stand trial.

 

Telling All

   Hoping to get a lighter sentence, Al Riley made a complete confession. As a result of this confession an extensive search was made of several of the lakes to the north of the 108 Hotel, and a total of 49 male bodies and skeletons were discovered. None were ever identified.

   Agnus MacVee never came to trial. She thwarted the hangman’s noose in Scotland and she did the same at Kamloops. Somehow she managed to hide some poison when she was arrested and committed suicide in June 1895. Al Riley’s hope for a lighter sentence was to no avail and he was hanged soon after his trial.

   Al’s death would have been the end of this episode of atrocities, except for that yellow metal that started it all, GOLD!

  Over the 10 years or so that this family had preyed on prospectors and other unsuspecting travelers, Agnus was reputed to have accumulated a vast fortune in gold coins and nuggets, in excess of $150,000. Only McDonald’s was found during the search of the hotel at the time of the arrest. It was rumoured at the time that Agnus had buried the proceeds of each murder in different places on the property.

   When the hotel was completely torn down in 1892 to be replaced by a new building, there was no trace of this lost fortune. In 1924 a rancher dug up a cache of $2,500 in gold less than one mile from where the original hotel stood.

   More recently, when Block Bros. were clearing the site for the 108 Airstrip a machine operator uncovered another $6,000 in gold coins and nuggets. With only a small amount of the original fortune recovered, at today’s value of gold this means that over $1,000,000 is still buried, hidden by Agnus MacVee, probably within one mile of her home!

   Today, the 108 Mile property is a Heritage Site. Some of the original buildings still stand as a reminder of the not too distant past when the Cariboo Wagon Road was often a one-way journey towards the gold fields which ended at the home of Agnus MacVee and her family.

The Trapper's Cabin

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Trapper's Cabin finds new home at Heritage Site

A little trapper’s cabin has found a new home.new10

Everett Lee Greenlee, born Dec. 18, 1895, built the 12-by- 14 foot cabin in the 1930’s out of cedar logs, a slit log and sod roof, and rough two-by- four floor boards.

Greenlee and his wife Edna Marie made the cabin their home during the winter months, November to February, while they set and checked trap lines.

They would travel the trap line which extended from Canim Lake, to Bosk Lake to Big Timothy Mountain using several leg hold traps. His daughter Toody Shirran, now 79, recalled that it took two days to walk the trap line.

“He trapped whatever was in th_MHP4981e wood,” she said.

Coyotes, fox lynx, squirrels, weasels, martins and even cougar were trapped and sold to the Vancouver Raw Fur Company

“But once in a while, a fur buyer would come around,” she remembered.

Furnishings in the cabin included a hand-made log bunk, a stove, an apple box nailed to the wall for cupboards and a bench to store things.

“To eat lunch, we would sit on the bed,” she recalled. “Right in the floor where you walk back and forth, we dug a big hole two feet deep,” she explained. “That was where we stored stuff that couldn’t stand to be frozen like canned milk, potatoes and stuff like that.”

Everything was cooked on the little stove that didn’t have an oven. But Edna would place three rock on top of the stove covered by an old metal dish pan to make an improvised oven.

“She would bake the loveliest chocolate cake,” said Shirran.

When Greenlee had to go off on business, Edna and Shirran would take care of the trap line.Trappers-cabin_sm

“My mother got so she could skin a squirrel in a minute,” she laughed. “I couldn’t quite keep up to her. It took me a minute and a half.”

It was a hard life, but her father made a living at it, she said. During the remainder of the year, he spent time minding their ranch, working for wages and doing carpentry work.

Formerly located on the Weldwood 6000 Road at 22 km on Hendrix Creek, the trappers cabin was moved to the 108 Mile Historical Site.

“I think it’s wonderful. It’s better than being left in the woods to rot.”

Cabin unusually constructed

Vice President of the 100 Mile District Historical Society is thrilled to see another building come to the 108 Historical Site.

He is also impressed by the size and construction of the old trapper’s cabin built in the mid 1930’s by Everett Greenlee.

Fashioned with cedar logs and on a stone foundation, the structure was moved from its original site near Hendrix Creek Aug. 10 and 11. The bottom logs has started to rot out. They will be replaced when the cabin is resurrected at its new location adjacent to the Clydesdale Barn. The front door and the side windows will both have views of the lake.

As for inside furnishings, Babcock was particularly impressed with sleeping arrangements.

A whole log lined the end of the outside of the bed.

“It was shaped so to fit the edge of the bed,” he added. “It’s unusual in a way.”

The 12-by- 14 foot cabin, according to Babcock, is on the large side for those days also.

“Most were eight-by- 10,” he added.

A bought iron stove, used for both cooking and heating, sat to one side of the cabin.

“It’s also different than lots of them I’ve seen,” he explained. “It sits on a pedestal with one big door on the front that latches and extends out.”

Because of numerous initials carved in the logs, Babcock feels that the cabin has been well used over the years. Dates go back as far as the 1940’s and continue to just recently.

Plans are to have the cabin up and ready within a few months. The 108 Historic Site first started taking shape in 1977 and has expanded throughout the years. There are hopes of obtaining a hunter’s cabin from the 111 Mile area. As well, the group is hoping to see a chapel and a school house on the site.