Ever wanted to travel back in time? While we can’t offer any sort of lead on a time machine, there is a new travel opportunity that can give you a sense of life in British Columbia in the 1880s.
Named for William Henry “Johnny” Ward, the Guest House was built in 1880. Ward, however, had been in Yale for two decades prior, and had previously built a house at the very same site in 1863 that burned down in early 1880. The Nova Scotia native had come west for the Gold Rush, however found better fortune running a hotel in this boom town in the Fraser Canyon.
Yale is certainly a special place in B.C.’s history. It’s hard to believe it now, but it was once the biggest city north of San Francisco and west of Chicago. That’s because after being established as a Hudson’s Bay trading post in 1848, it attracted tens of thousands of transplants by the late 1850s for gold prospecting. Ward, of course, was one such newcomer.
These days, Yale is a quiet, seasonal town right on the railroad line. In fact, you can count on trains going by quite often, though you may end up just getting used to the clatter and honking.
It’s thanks to the Yale and District Historical Society, and the province of B.C., that Yale is a fantastic place to visit. The site features a musuem, a church, as well as in immersive Living History ‘Tent City’ that recreates the campsite of the 1858 Gold Rush, complete with your chance to pan for gold.
Across the railroad tracks you’ll find the Ward Tea House, which serves up lunch and snacks, as well as breakfast for overnight guests from the Ward House, which shares the yard.
The menu at the Ward Tea House is getting a makeover this year, focusing on scratch cooking, tea and treats, and keeping some crowd favourites, like the sausage rolls. Staff in period costumes are on hand, too, making it a more enriching back-in-time experience.
Last summer, to test out having travellers use the Ward House like a hotel, I got to spend a summer’s night there with my son. The two-bedroom house comfortably can hold one to four visitors, sleeping two in the master bedroom’s double bed and two in the child’s room on a single bed and trundle bed.
Decked out in acquired goods from the era, the Guest House is like a living museum, though guests don’t have to don white gloves or tip toe around. Guests receive a complimentary breakfast at the Tea House with their stay (and earplugs, because, well, those trains do run all night).
Additionally, the stay includes a visit to the Yale Historic Site and its activities. Plus, guests can use the full kitchen in the rear of the house–it’s a modern kitchen, so no worries about having to figure out how to work the old fashioned stove or kitchen tools. Plus there will be a BBQ set up in the yard.
Yale is located north of Hope on Highway 1, right alongside the Fraser River. It’s surrounded by majestic scenery and land accessible for exploring.
Yale Historic Society’s Deb Zervini suggests guests use the Ward House as a “home base” for Fraser Canyon adventures, from trail hikes to summertime craft markets, bike riding, or exploring places like the Othello Tunnels, nearby towns, and parks. There is also an app you can download to have an interactive tour of Yale itself, which is fun for families.
Proceeds from stays at the Ward Guest House will go right back to the Yale Historic Society to help them preserve and maintain the site, and continue to do the great things they do that bring history to life.
For couples, friends, or small families thinking about getting to know B.C. more this summer, Yale’s Johnny Ward Guest House offers a quirky, unique opportunity to go back in time, and have a vacation you just can’t have anywhere else.
Check out a few more images from our fun stay in Yale in August 2017.
Information about reservations and rates for stays at the Johnny Ward Guest House is available online. The Guest House is located on Albert Street at Douglas Street in Yale, B.C.