Save Historic Hat Creek

A reader writes about the importance of the Historic Hat Creek site.

Dear Editor,

I read the article about Historic Hat Creek in the November 3 issue of The Journal (“Record attendance at Historic Hat Creek”) with great interest and concern.

As former chief interpreter and tour guide trainee when the site was launched some years ago, I’m well aware how necessary it is to maintain the buildings.

I was dismayed to read that the Heritage Site Management Agreement with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations will be terminated after two more operational seasons.

I don’t think the ministry realizes how important a tourist and educational attraction Historic Hat Creek is. The land and the buildings figure in the province’s earliest history, as much of the site at Barkerville does. Donald McLean’s inn on the newly-forged Cariboo Wagon Road opened in 1863, and the site is mentioned in numerous histories and research papers. McLean’s original inn forms part of Hat Creek House. Core analysis of the logs, done by archeologist Sam Balf, determined the year of its construction.

The expectation by the ministry that a leased site should be able to maintain itself is wholly unrealistic. During this formative period of the site’s development, it is essential to continue to have government funding. Why invest so much since the site was saved and developed, only to abandon that investment? It doesn’t make sense.

History, believe it or not, is big business. B.C. attracts people from all over the world. I know. I was out there, greeting tour buses every day for three years. The maintenance of Hat Creek House is essential. It is the heart of the history of the place. If the building is not maintained as it should be, the reconstruction would be much more expensive. When tourists leave buses and vehicles and walk down the pike, they step back in time to the era of the opening of this province.

The preservation of sites like Historic Hat Creek and Ashcroft Manor—buildings that date from our earliest development in B.C.—should be a priority. History brings people into the area. The higher attendance every decade at Historic Hat Creek attests to this.

We should, in my view, emphasize our history more. England, Scotland, and Ireland literally “mine” their history. Why? Because it is one of their healthiest, non-polluting industries. Why don’t we learn from these examples?

Let’s do everything we can to have Historic Hat Creek continue to be funded by the ministry involved. I suggest the municipalities of the South Cariboo get behind this now, and start pressing the ministry to continue its role as preservationists and managers. We have the political clout, if we prevail in numbers.

Esther Darlington


Correction: In last week’s paper, a story indicated that the Thompson-Nicola Regional District would be taking over operation of the Cache Creek landfill when it closes on December 31. The TNRD will in fact be operating the residential drop-off site there, and will not be operating the landfill, which will cease to accept any garbage at the end of the year. The Journal regrets the error.