Spark your sense of wonder at the historic Johnny Ward Guest House! Step inside and you’ll be transported back in time to the late 1800s. The guest house was the home of William Henry Ward (also known as “Johnny”), a native of Nova Scotia, who came to Yale in search of riches during the Gold Rush of 1858. Prospecting wasn’t paying the bills incurred by his large family (he and wife Alice had six children) so he became a teamster, driving horse-drawn wagons of freight between Yale and Barkerville. With the construction of CP Rail, his freight hauling business took a sharp downturn, at which point he went into the hotel business. Johnny first built the family home at the present location in 1863; but in 1880, it was lost to a fire that destroyed half the town. The Ward family rebuilt the same year, and now you can stay in that very home and experience the charm of 19th century life. Listen closely and you may hear the voices of a bygone era! Following are five reasons you’ll want to stay at the Johnny Ward Guest House:
1. AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCE
Staying at The Johnny Ward House is like staying overnight in a museum, except no one is going to tell you to stay behind the ropes— there aren’t any! Soak in a beautiful clawfoot bathtub, check out the wood cookstove in the kitchen, and relax on the lovely covered porch. You’ll enjoy seeing the artifacts and period furnishings throughout the house that give a sense of what life was like 140 years ago. But don’t worry, you won’t have to use an outhouse– there are modern conveniences like a flush toilet, power, running water, air conditioning, and a kitchen with modern amenities in the rear of the house. The charm and simplicity of the 1800s with the conveniences of modern life are a perfect combination.
2. INDIGENOUS HISTORY
Yale is rich in Indigenous history. First Nations people have been living in this area for approximately 10,000 years, and archaeologists have unearthed stone tools, arrowheads, and the remains of pit houses in the area. First Nations relied on the bounty of the Fraser River for sustenance, and do to this day: you can still see fish drying racks in family fishing camps above the Fraser River.
3. GOLD RUSH HISTORY
Originally established as a Hudson’s Bay Trading Post in 1848, Yale’s population exploded in 1858, when gold was discovered on a gravel bar just two miles south of Yale. A tremendous surge of people poured into the area from all over the world, creating a population explosion. In a matter of months, this small town became a big city of nearly 30,000 people. During this time, Yale was the biggest city west of Chicago and North of San Francisco! Pop into Barry’s Trading Post where they have a wide selection of books on fascinating local history.
Location is everything, and the Johnny Ward Guest House is in the heart of so much to see and do. If you’re a train buff, you’ll love the close-up view of the railway in one of the first places it laid track in BC. You’ll also be just steps away from one of the oldest churches in B.C.: St. John the Divine, built in 1863. See the Monument to Chinese Railway Workers. And don’t forget to download the QuestUpon app and watch historic characters come to life on your smartphone as you tour the town. You can also try your hand a gold panning down on the public beach which is just a stone’s throw from the Guest House.
5. GATEWAY TO ADVENTURES IN THE CANYON
Photo: REO Rafting Resort
The Johnny Ward House is a perfect home base for exploring and adventuring in the rugged Fraser Canyon. It’s a quick drive to the towering and grand old Alexandra Bridge, or Hell’s Gate, where you can enjoy a thrilling airtram ride over the most turbulent portion of the river. There are hikes galore in the canyon: the Spirit Caves Trail right in Yale, is a rigorous hike that leads you to a series of caves that are fun to explore; and an incredible panoramic view at the top. Or try other area hikes like Mount Lincoln, or the Tikwalus Heritage Trail, a route that Nlaka’pamux First Nations people used for travelling, hunting, and foraging. For an ultimate adventure, take an exhilarating white-water rafting trip with one of the local rafting companies including Kumsheen Rafting, and REO Rafting Resort. There are a number of rivers these trips tour on: The Fraser River (known for its tumultuous rapids), Nahatlatch River (huge, epic whitewater); and Thompson River (a warmer river with tons of rolling whitewater); to name a few.
PLAN YOUR TRIP!
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience a different time and way of life at the Johnny Ward Guest House: take a trip out to Yale and experience this sparkling little gem for yourself! Located at the intersection of Albert Street and Douglas Street, it’s a mere 18 minutes away from Hope, and two hours from Vancouver. For more information on this and other historic sites in Hope, Cascades and Canyons, visit us here.
WATCH THE YALE HISTORIC SITE VIDEO: