A few weeks ago the family and I went back in time during our visit to Yale Historic Site! My middle daughter is obsessed with learning about B.C`s history and she`s super fascinated with anything old fashioned. For this reason, she was extremely happy when we made a stop on our drive home from Hells Gate Airtram to visit Yale Historic Site. My oldest daughter wasn`t as excited as our middle daughter and our youngest didn’t really know what to expect. However, once we arrived there was something for everyone.
We learned a variety of new things we wouldn`t have otherwise, enjoyed a delicious lunch courtesy of the managers at The Ward Tea House, and found Yale to be rather interesting, to say the least! We loved exploring and…we even learned about a ghost that is said to live in the old Ward House.
In addition, we played around with Quest Upon a really cool app where you can view the historic ruins of a time that has passed through modern-day lenses! Think of it like catching Pokemon, but in the pioneer days.
Yale was once the largest city north of San Francisco and west of Chicago. Originally established in 1848 as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, Yale grew with the influx of an estimated 30,000 gold miners during the gold rush of 1858. In the 1860’s, with the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road, Yale became the main terminal for one of the largest sternwheeler routes in North America. The 1880’s saw the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway with construction headquarters housed in Yale.A National Historic Site monument to Chinese railroad workers is the first monument in Canada to be inscribed in English, French, and Chinese.
About Ward Tea House
Over the past winter, the Tea House has undergone an extensive expansion, complete with a revitalized building with a brand-new kitchen, washroom, and indoor seating area along with a new patio area with bistro tables and a large canopy garden seating area.
We enjoyed freshly made lemonade and iced tea, chicken pot pies, salad, soup, and freshly baked goodies at Ward Tea House. The staff was super friendly and gave us a tour of the Ward House after our meal. This is where we learned about the ghost that is said to live in the house along with some other really cool facts about the Wards.
Who are the Wards?
William Henry Ward (also known as “Johnny”) was born in 1823 and came to Yale from Digby, Nova Scotia during the gold rush. Prospecting was a brief occupation for him and he soon became a teamster driving freight wagons on Cariboo Wagon Road between Yale and Barkerville. He may have worked for Barnard’s Express, located at the property below his on Albert and Front Street. With the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, his business decreased and he went into the hotel business. He had a hotel near the corner of Douglas and Albert Streets, across from St. John the Divine Church.
The current Ward House is not the original house that Johnny built as he initially built a house at the same location in 1863, but on July 27, 1880 it burnt down in a devastating fire that took half the town! It was reported in the Inland Sentinel on July 29, that his home and new barn were completely destroyed. The following week’s issue, of the Inland Sentinel, indicated that Mr. Ward’s home, (the current residence), had already been rebuilt on the original foundation.
We couldn’t believe Yale was a booming gold rush town in comparison to what it is now. Today, Yales population is only about 150 people!
All in all, we learned a lot about the gold rush days while visiting Yale Historic Site. If you`re eager to learn more about British Columbia’s history, Yale Historic Site will take you back in time while you learn, explore, and dine. And… it`s only a short drive away from Vancouver. You can visit Hells Gate Air Tram while you`re in the area, just like we did. You can read about it here.
Yale Historic Site Features
*Featured image courtesy of Yale Historic Site