This 130-year-old sod roof cabin is looking for a permanent home in the Okanagan - InfoNews

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This 130-year-old sod roof cabin is looking for a permanent home in the Okanagan

This Summerland cabin is more than 130 years old but needs a new home where it can be preserved.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Old Kelowna
January 29, 2020 - 6:30 PM

One of the Okanagan’s oldest buildings has been in search of a home for the past few years and historical enthusiasts are hoping it will find one soon.

The Trout Creek Sod Roof Cabin was built between 1886 and 1888 so it’s between 132 and 134 years old. It was built by ranch hands at Thomas Ellis Ranch and has been sitting on a concrete pad in a field near Highway 97 south of Summerland for a number of years.

The 42-acre property on which it sits had been for sale so, last fall, a petition campaign gathered more than 2,000 signatures asking the District of Summerland to preserve it.

That petition was presented to Summerland council by George Downton, president of the Summerland branch of the Okanagan Historical Society, on Nov. 25. Council simply voted to accept the report.

Downton said the cabin used to be closer to Okanagan Lake but was moved to the front of the property, the bottom two rows of logs were replaced and a concrete pad poured. The roofing under the sod will need replacing.

The previous property owner was interested in developing the land but the new owner may be considering replanting the part where the cabin sits and putting up a fruit stand.

The Heritage Society cannot own property or buildings so Downton was hoping the municipality would take on that role or that the new owner might be willing to take possession of the cabin, possibly for use as a visitor attraction. But that could raise concerns about liability and insurance issues.

Since the land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, relocating it on that site may complicate preservation efforts further.

The cabin is on the provincial and federal heritage registries because it’s one of the oldest buildings in the Okanagan but those registries don’t offer protection, Downton said.

The only Okanagan sites on the registry that have been protected are the Father Pandosy Mission in Kelowna (established in1859) and the Fairview Townsite near Oliver (founded in the 1890s).

On Wednesday, Jan. 29, Downton met with the new owners of the land and the CAO of Summerland to discuss the possible future of the cabin. It was the first meeting of the parties so the issue was not discussed in detail. Downton hopes for more meetings but no dates have been set.

Find out more about the Trout Creek Sod Roof Cabin here.


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