British Columbia

Gold Rush-era general store from 1914 offered to Williams Lake

Century-old general store is filled with a 'massive amount' of artifacts left in place when the original owner's daughter died behind the counter decades ago.

Building is filled with a 'massive amount' of artifacts, enough to rival Barkerville, current owner says

Roger Paternaude says the 153 Mile Store, located just outside of Williams Lake, is 31 feet by 41 feet, and has three levels. (Roger Paternaude)

A century-old log building that once supplied food to people working in the gold fields in B.C.'s Cariboo region — still stocked full of items dating from the early 1900s — has been offered to the City of Williams Lake.

The 153 Mile Store was built by Italian settler Louis Crosina in 1914 and is located just outside of Williams Lake, on 153 Mile Ranch, now owned by the Paternaude family.

Paternaude said the store is filled with a “massive amount” of artifacts which were left in place when the original owner's daughter died of a heart attack behind the counter in 1963. (Roger Paternaude)

Roger Paternaude said he hopes the building and all its contents can become part of the city's Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.

"What we're trying to do, as the Paternaude family, is hopefully preserve this store forever by donating it to the City of Williams Lake," he said.

Artifacts from early 1900s

Paternaude said the store is filled with a "massive amount" of artifacts which were left in place when Crosina's daughter died of a heart attack behind the counter in 1963.

"The doors were closed and what current stuff was in the store was taken to Williams Lake … but anything that wasn't current was left in the store, so that's how it sits," he said.

He said the store's contents could rival the artifacts found in Barkerville, a Gold Rush town that is now a National Historic Site.

"There's foot warmers for the stage coach, there's everything you can think of: old clothes, shoes ... about three sets of porcelain in the store, so it's a time capsule of artifacts right from 1900 up to 1963 when it closed."

Some of the clothes and other items in the store. Paternaude said the amount of artifacts the store contains could rival the number found in Barkerville, a Gold Rush town that is now a National Historic Site. (Roger Paternaude)

Paternaude said his grandfather and father came to work at the ranch where the store is located in the early 1940s.

The Paternaudes eventually bought the ranch from the Crosinas, and Roger Paternaude's mother operated the store as a private museum.

"Her wish when she passed was to have the store preserved in the name of the Crosina family and the Paternaude family, and that's what we're trying to do."

Difficult to move building

Williams Lake city council are currently exploring the offer of the heritage building.

A report to council dated Sept. 30, 2015 stated that a possible location for the store is property the city owns for the purpose of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin and the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame, "pending confirmation that the building is in structurally sound shape for moving."

The report also stated that successfully relocating the store and all its contents will be a "substantial exercise," and said a qualified professional experienced in heritage building evaluation and preservation of historic artifacts should evaluate how that can be done.

Paternaude said moving the building may be difficult, but hopes it can be done.

"Hopefully we'll figure it out together and if we need to do some fundraising, there is some money left in my dad's estate that we will offer," he said.

"Of course we'll miss it. It's just a public asset as far as I'm concerned."


To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: Century-old general store near Williams Lake is a time-capsule from the days of B.C.'s gold rush

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now