Potato House Society summer staff Mackenzie Magnowski, left, Kaylee Billyboy and Emma Nichols. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Potato House Society summer staff Mackenzie Magnowski, left, Kaylee Billyboy and Emma Nichols. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Potato House’s summer staff embarks on giving historical walking tours

It was a great opportunity for the staffers to learn more local history

Three summer staffers working at the Potato House decided to add downtown historical walking tours to their job descriptions.

Emma Nichols, 21, Kaylee Billyboy, 24, and Mackenzie Magnowski, 21, said their boss Mary Forbes has done walking tours in the past and they decided it was something they would like to do.

To prepare themselves they delved into local history books from the library, especially some written by the lakecity historian, the late Irene Stangoe.

“Mary also did a walk with us to give us information,” Nichols said. “We also did a tour of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin, Xat’sull Heritage Village, Barkerville and the Quesnel Museum.”

Nichols said it was interesting to learn about Williams Lake’s first bath tub.

“It was new at the time in a hotel on the corner of Oliver Street and Mackenzie Avenue. It only had cold water and it was saved from a fire in 1921. It sat outside on a street with a sign that said ‘baths’ for many years,” she said.

Billyboy enjoyed learning more Indigenous history about the first three villages in the Williams Lake area.

“I have added some of that information to the walking tour,” Billyboy said.

READ MORE: Potato House Project to break ground this summer on restoration, rehabilitation work

Magnowski said she enjoyed learning all of it, but one thing that stuck out was learning about the first banks in Williams Lake.

“At one of the banks they had to keep the safe outside because there wasn’t enough room for it inside.”

While the last historical tour was scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 18, the trio hopes it is something future summer staffers will be keen to do.

Nichols recently graduated from the education assistant program at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake, Billyboy is returning to university to complete her last year of a bachelor of education degree at TRU Kamloops and Magnowski will be going into her third year of a social sciences program at Trinity Western University.

Aside from the tours, the three have worked in the gardens and done prep work and packing because the Potato House is undergoing restoration and rehabilitation work after receiving a $449,000 from the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program.

READ MORE: Potato House receiving $449,000 provincial funding for heritage restoration, rehabilitation



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