Girouard Cabin and Park
First Post Office
Luc Girouard Cabin
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Girouard Cabin and Park is a small park at the west end of downtown, northwest of 30th Ave. It includes the restored log cabin of Luc Girouard, built ca. 1867.
The Girouard Cabin and Park is valued for its association with the process of human settlement in Vernon. In the pre-European era a First Nations trail crossed the creek just south of the rock. It was known as Nintle-Moos-Chin, the anglicized version of the original Interior Salish name, which meant 'Jumping Over Place'. In 1860, the Oblate missionaries established a priest’s house on Swan Lake Creek, a temporary residence used when the priest visited from the mission at Okanagan Mission. In 1871, the trail was upgraded to form a wagon road, connecting Kamloops and the head of the Okanagan Lake to White Valley and Cherry Creek. With the laying out of Centreville as the first Vernon town site in 1885, the wagon road became Coldstream Avenue, a distinctive road that cut across the formal grid of the town plan.
The site is further valued for its association with Luc Girouard, a Quebecer who came from the California gold fields around 1861 to prospect for gold on Cherry Creek. In 1867, he pre-empted 160 acres west of Swan Lake Creek. He was Vernon’s first permanent resident, building a log cabin at the northeast corner of his pre-emption, just below the rock. He cleared the land and planted Vernon’s first commercial orchard. His ditch to the creek was Vernon’s first irrigation system. In 1884, a post office was established for Priests Valley, and Girouard was appointed the first Postmaster. The post office was in his log cabin from 1884 until 1891, when he resigned. In later years, Girouard built a wood frame cottage and the cabin became a chicken coop. Girouard donated land in 1884 for Vernon’s first cemetery. He was buried there in 1895.
The Girouard Cabin is further valued for its association with civic efforts to recognize and preserve it. In 1921, a group of citizens moved the derelict building to Polson Park, where it was repaired and turned into a clubhouse for the Vernon Lawn Bowling Club. For 75 years, the cabin served this function and was the social centre for an active and successful club. The cabin was designated as a municipal heritage site in 1981. By 1997, the club needed a larger building and the City became concerned about the condition of the building, which had suffered a fire in 1982. In 1997, the Vernon and District Heritage Society, with the help of students from Vernon Secondary School, moved the building to a new location in Girouard Park, about 70 meters from its original site. They undertook the restoration of the building at this time. Although much restored, the cabin retains its original form and scale, as well as many of its original dovetailed logs.
The park is also associated with other pioneer families. Girouard sold this part of his property to Gideon Milligan, co-lessee of the Okanagan Hotel, and later owner of the Victoria Hotel. He built a brick cottage, which was purchased in 1891 by F. B. Jacques, an early jeweller in Vernon. The house and large garden became a renowned beauty spot in Vernon. Girouard’s original orchard was on the property, as were mulberry trees he had brought from France. It remained in the Jacques family until 1975, when the City bought the property to extend the roadway. Another piece of the park was occupied by a store owned by W. F. Cameron, Vernon’s first mayor. In 1939, the Vernon and District Horticultural Society plowed and seeded a portion of the property, then known variously as Cameron or Pioneers Park and placed a large memorial stone there.
Source: City of Vernon Planning Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Girouard Cabin and Park include its:
- one-storey cabin scale and form
- original dovetailed logs
- setting adjacent to the rock and Swan Lake Creek
- native flora and fauna
- relationship to historic transportation routes
- relationship to Swan Lake Creek
- memorial cairn for the 'Jumping Over Place'
- mature trees
- steep front gable
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.967
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Community Organizations
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Historic or Interpretive Site
- Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
- Single Dwelling
- Post Office
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Vernon Planning Department
Cross-Reference to Collection