A Condensed History of the 108 Heritage Site
1863-1915 District Lot 76 and the Buildings at the 108 Heritage Site
- 1863 William J. Roper pre-empted 320 acres D.L. 76
- 1867 Built log 108 Roadhouse ("108 Hotel") north of the road. (Across the hwy. from the present day 108 Heritage Site).
- 1867 Built log stable and log shed north of the road (Across the hwy. from this site).
- 1871 Quit 108 moved to Cherry Creek near Kamloops.
- No evidence of ownership
- 1875 "108 Hotel" ran by AGNUS MACVEE. Jim MacVee, and her brother-in-law Al Riley till June 1885.
- 1880 Evidence that William Walker owned the 108.
- 1880 WILLIAM WALKER PRE-EMPTED 320 acres D.L. 76. He was a telegraph operator, stockraiser, dairy farmer, trader and 'BX Agent'.
- 1880 Built log dairy **ICE HOUSE** on this site.
- 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.
- 1880 Black Smith Shop
- 1891 Walker sold the 108 on December 30 to Stephen Tingley for $320.00.
- 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.
- 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 This extension has not (as yet) been replaced by the Society.
- 1892 Built **SMALL LOG BARN** on this site.
- 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"
- 1903 Clarence Tingley sold D.L. 76 (108) September 23 to Captain Watson (including 13 other lots) for $11,000.
- 1903 CAPTAIN GEOFFREY LANCELOT WATSON bought WATSON District Lot 76.
- 1904 Built the 'Watson Manor' four miles away, at Watson Lake, and turned his attention to ranching.
- 1904-08 "Tingley's 1892 large log BX Stable" burned down.
- 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.
- 1905 Tore down the 'Roper' 1867 log stable north of the road and destroyed it.
- 1908 The large log "CLYDESDALE BARN** was built by Gilbert Monroe of Ashcroft for Captain Watson.
- 1915 Captain Watson was killed in WW1 in 1915.
108 Heritage Site welcomes schoolhouse
Another special piece of Cariboo history was preserved last week. Thanks to local volunteers, members of the 100 Mile and District Historical Society, and a generous donation by local log home builder Andre Chevigny, the 133 Mile Schoolhouse now has a new home at the 108 Heritage Site.
The little one-room schoolhouse was built in 1938 by local ranchers Ernie Wright and Bud Felker. The new school gave local schoolchildren from nearby ranches, including 130, 132 and 134 Mile, the opportunity to attend school near their homes.
With the help of their teams of horses, Wright and Felker hauled logs in to the build the structure. Using a lot of volunteer and manual labour, the pair worked hard to get the school finished for the 15 students to attend their new school. Using a broad axe, they cut all the logs by hand. And apparently, they donated all their time and the materials and were not funded in any way by the government for this project.
Miss Laura Crystal, the first teacher at the then named Enterprise School, lived with Enid and Ernie Wright at the 132 Mile Ranch, as did many of the teachers over the years. Students walked to school or rode their horses. Water was hauled in from a nearby spring on the Wright's ranch two miles away. A little pot-bellied wood stove provided the heating in the small school room and the washroom was of course an outhouse.
It sat on the side of Hwy. 97 for many years for many passing by to enjoy. Then in May 1997 it was necessary for the schoolhouse to be dismantled. Andre Chevigny acquired the structure and his first idea was to restore and rebuild the school house on his property just down the way. He then rebuilt the landmark at the Pioneer Log Home building site and he and his crew spent 11 weeks redoing the little one-roomed school house. They replaced 15 pieces and redid all the other log pieces. "We tried to do this without changing the old timers' craftsmanship," explained Chevigny.
Then about one-and- a-half years ago, Chevigny decided to donate the building to the 100 Mile and District Historical Society, to be re-erected at the 108 Heritage Site. The group was ecstatic to be able to acquire the great little building. "It's just like a dream come true," said Maryann Rutledge, director and bookkeeper of the historical society. "It makes me feel good inside to see history saved."
The San Jose School House is the 11th building to be restored on the site. They include the McNeil ranch/road house, ice house, bunk house, telegraph office, blacksmith shop, BX barn,Watson barn, outhouse, trapper's cabin and now the San Jose schoolhouse.
The old logs, all numbered and restored were hauled in, this time by truck, and set up on July 7, 2000 -- a process which took only a few hours to complete. A roof, windows, doors and chinking will be added, hopefully within a month's time.
The Society is now looking for artifacts to fill the schoolhouse, including pointers, black boards, desks, inkwells, pens, slates, etc. As well they would love to hear from past students and teachers.
Former school teacher has fond memories of the 133 Mile Schoolhouse
by Jay Bulloch
Abandoned for many years, the 133 Mile Schoolhouse was torn down in May 1997 and recently rebuilt at 108 Heritage Site.
"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," laughed Mary (Johnson) Patenaude. "Somebody put a chimney in later. But the chimney at the back wasn't there when I was there."
She was reminiscing about the three years that she taught at the Enterprise Schoolhouse at 133 Mile. The old Enterprise school had burned down and a new school was built on Felker's land in 1938 remembered the 79-year- old former school teacher.
The third school teacher to teach at the 'new' school, Patenaude taught between 1941 and 1943.
Patenaude remembers going to school in Vancouver at the Vancouver Normal School. Prior to coming to this wild country she spoke to Laura Cyrstal and another former teacher. "They were in Vancouver and I went to see them before I went up," she remembered. And before she came up she also went over to see Mr. Lord, the principal of the normal school who gave her a few pointers.
With her things loaded up in her dad's car she traveled the Cariboo Road winding in and out. "I had never been any further than Chilliwack," she said. "I was a city girl."
There she was, at 20, single and miles away from home. "I was in a different world," she said from her home in Enderby, B.C. "Then it certainly was a different world. I was getting into ranching world and the countryside."
She admitted that she wasn't quite prepared for the vastness of the land and certainly not the cold weather. "I wasn't used to that," she stressed. "The second winter I was there we had to close the school for three weeks. It was minus 60 Fahrenheit."
She boarded with Enid and Ernie Wright at the 132 Mile Ranch. "She was a real go-getter," she remembered. "She helped me with a lot of things in and out of school. Enid was great. She was artistic, musical and wonderful."
A dozen pupils filled the little school and at times Patenaude taught as many as 15 students from Grades 1 to 8. "I was scared silly of the little Grade 1s," she said. "I thought, 'what if I can't teach them how to read!'" One little Felker girl learned to read all by herself, she remembered and one little Wright boy had to be sent home because he was too young.
But when she first got to the school, it was logs inside and out and there was no porch. "I decided I would paint the window sills, put up pictures, maps and brighten the place up," she said. Then the inspector dropped by. Although there was no school board, they did have a trustee who was also the inspector. He traveled from Kamloops to inspect the rural schools.
"Mr. McArthur liked our little school," she said. So, she decided to ask him for a new porch. "I had no porch and it was just horrible. I asked the inspector, 'how can I rustle up a porch?'" The district finally agreed to supply the lumber but Patenaude would have to find someone to provide the labour. So she asked the men around the area. "I got my porch built," she said. "That would have been the second year maybe."
Inside the school there was the infamous round barrel made out of an old oil drum used for the fire. A couple of the boys were the janitors and they lit the stove in the morning. One of the locals, Harry Felker supplied the wood for the school. There was a bucket of water and Patenaude asked the children to bring their own cups. "They didn't like drinking out of the dipper," she said. They used gas lamps, although Patenaude doesn't remember having to use them very often. Out back there were two outhouses.
While some of the students walked to schools, others rode their horses. Patenaude was given a ride to school each morning in Ernie Wright's car. "I had one girl that came all the way over from Enterprise and the railway station," she said."She was over 15 years old and wanted to come for the social things and to learn a few more things."
There were the Christmas concerts that the school children and Patenaude prepared. "We had one one Christmas," she said. "But the next year it was too cold and we never did get to put it on."
She remembered that Santa Claus visited and gave the children presents. "It was a social event and we had a tree and so forth." One year they made the play up themselves. Another year they used excerpts from Winnie the Pooh. "I was so surprised when it became popular again," she laughed.
One fall, the school didn't open right away. Patenaude had gone to school but the children weren't there. "I got on the crank phone," she said. "They had all come down with something. One of the girls had lost her hair." Later then learned that the students all had Scarlet Fever.
Classes started at 9 a.m. and finished at 3 p.m. "Those were the days when the Department of Education was hung up on integration," she said. "We had to take one theme and work all our subject matter into one theme - arithmetic, social studies, English" That year they worked with the Mexican theme, and it worked extremely well. "They dropped that integration directive a few years later."
"At the time we had to teach sight reading," she said. She felt it didn't work so she started in on some phonics and mixed the site reading with the phonics.
She enjoyed her three years at the Enterprise Schoolhouse at 133 Mile, later known as the San Jose Schoolhouse. Patenaude has many fond memories. "I did learn to ride a horse. Well I was forced into riding a horse," she quipped. "I rode all the way to Wright Station and was scared silly there and back."
On July 7, 2000 the schoolhouse was moved to its new home at the 108 Heritage Site where volunteers from the 100 Mile and District Historical Society will preserve it.
The 108 Hotel
The Murder Mystery of the 108 Hotel
AS RUMOR HAS IT:
Verdict – GUILTY!
Sentence – The prisoner shall be hanged by the neck until dead!
For 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.
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.
Apparently 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.
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
Trapper's Cabin finds new home at Heritage Site
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.
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.
“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.