CASUAL COUNTRY 2019: Station House celebrates 100 years of serving the community

CASUAL COUNTRY 2019: Station House celebrates 100 years of serving the community

In 1919 Williams Lake was a new townsite with just a few buildings, until the coming of the railway

Diane Toop

Special to the Tribune/Advisor

This year, the Station House celebrates its 100th birthday.

In 1919 Williams Lake was a new townsite with just a few buildings; the Borland ranch house, a small store, a post office and a few homes. With the coming of the railway, people who were keen to discover what the Cariboo had to offer began arriving in larger numbers.

The Station House, a #3 building and its first station agent, Fred Hutchinson, didn’t see the first train arrive until a -40C day in January 1920, with a few hardy townspeople there to see it come in.

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The depot became the heart of Williams Lake with community gatherings often held in the building. School board meetings were held in the waiting room until 1930 and Libby Abbott, whose father became Stationmaster in 1929, says that children played in the train yard and under the platforms.

The arrival of the weekly train was an event that brought almost everyone down to the Station House to see who and what was arriving.

The building remained unchanged until an addition was built for express purposes and baggage in the 1950’s – that addition is now the Gallery Shop.

During the 1960’s the building began to fall into disrepair and the possibility of demolition was discussed as it was felt that the Station House had become an eyesore.

Thankfully that didn’t happen and in the late 70’s a group of people who realized the importance of preserving the building was formed.

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In 1981 the Station House Studio and Gallery Society was officially formed and the building took on a new life.

Since that time over 550 exhibitions have been presented to Williams Lake, our region and tourists. As Williams Lake’s first designated heritage site the Station House Studio and Gallery Society and all its supporters are pleased to have preserved an integral piece of our local history.

Diane Toop is the manager of the Station House Gallery.

 

The oldest known photo on record of the Station House, back when it sat beside the only railway into and out of town. The building was first constructed in 1919 and celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019 in Williams Lake.

The oldest known photo on record of the Station House, back when it sat beside the only railway into and out of town. The building was first constructed in 1919 and celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019 in Williams Lake.

A group of men wait beside the tracks that run beside the Station House in 1921 for the weekly train to come in. Today, while no longer in use, the Station House’s old walls are rattled daily by freight trains and the occasional passenger train.

A group of men wait beside the tracks that run beside the Station House in 1921 for the weekly train to come in. Today, while no longer in use, the Station House’s old walls are rattled daily by freight trains and the occasional passenger train.