Ray Farm Residence
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Ray Farm Residence consists of the remains of a one-storey, square, four-roomed dwelling constructed of logs, with a now-collapsed pyramidal roof. It is located in a grassy meadow near the Clearwater River in the southern portion of Wells Gray Provincial Park, near the town of Clearwater in north-central British Columbia. The Residence is part of an historic farm complex that includes the meadow, adjacent cabin, small outbuildings, gravesite, fence remains and mineral spring.
Constructed in 1940, the Ray Farm Residence is important for its historical, aesthetic and interpretive values. Although the building is abandoned and will be allowed to decay naturally over time, the Ray Farm Residence is valued for its interpretive ability to demonstrate a former way of life in the early pioneering settlements of the North Thompson and Clearwater valleys prior to the creation of Wells Gray Provincial Park.
The Residence, constructed for a family of five, is valued for its historical association with the pioneering life of John Ray, a trapper and farmer. Ray and his family were among the very few settlers who made their living in the isolation of the North Thompson Valley. They were remarkably self-sufficient in this wilderness setting, keeping livestock, maintaining a garden and harvesting and preserving food supplies for the winter. The Residence, with its surrounding landscape of remnant hayfield, pasture and orchard, highlights early pioneering history within the mostly natural setting of Wells Gray Park, and the ongoing use of the site as a farm after the creation of the park in 1939. It is also important as evidence of the evolution of land use in the area, which was first explored by Hudson’s Bay Company packers, fur trappers, and Canadian Pacific Railway surveyors. Early resource extraction and transportation exploration opened up the area for pre-emption and homesteading in the early part of the 20th century.
Although it has begun to deteriorate, the building is still important aesthetically for its construction materials, its design and attention to detail. Built from uniform square cedar finished logs laid horizontally and filled with plaster, the walls are joined by accurately fitted, self-locking mortised joints. The house has four-paned cedar window openings. The steeply-pitched pyramidal wood shingle roof, which has now collapsed, was an adaptation to heavy snow loads. It was supported by four cedar corner posts with aspen rafters. By necessity John Ray made effective use of the local materials at hand, as the journey to Clearwater, the nearest settlement, was a trip of two to three days over pack trails.
Further enhancing the historical and educational value of the place are the adjacent cabin and the remains of the chicken coop, root cellar, fence posts and the orchard trees. The mineral spring, a natural source of water for the farm, is also an important part of the historic place.
The building and surrounding meadow have recreational and wildlife values because they are important as habitat. The Ray Farm is one of the best areas in the park for wildlife viewing. Birds such as hawks and flickers, and animals including bear, mule deer, moose and coyotes make use of the site, while bats and barn swallows can be found inside the structure.
With a viewing platform and boardwalk, the Ray Farm Residence is a valued asset for interpretive purposes within the park, and has social value through the interest of the Friends of Wells Gray Park, located in Clearwater.
Source: Ministry of Environment, BC Parks
Key character-defining elements of the Ray Farm Residence include:
-location in a grassy meadow clearing in the southern part of Wells Gray Provincial Park
-location near the Clearwater River and Ray's Mineral Spring
-siting adjacent to the earlier Ray Farm Cabin
-siting among the other smaller outbuildings and fence posts
-constructed boardwalk and walkway
-square massing and one-storey height of the building
-horizontal square-finished log construction
-four rooms that housed a family of five
-remains of pyramidal roof clad with cedar shingles
-wood-framed window and door openings
-windows with four-over-four panes
Province of British Columbia
Park Act, s.5
Provincial Park (Establishment)
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Historic or Interpretive Site
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Ministry of Environment, BC Parks
Cross-Reference to Collection