The Kelly Lake Ranch Roadhouse - 030101
It was in the fall of 1862 that Gustavus B. Wright completed the section of the new Cariboo Wagon trail over Pavilion Mountain and down the Snake Hill to arrive at the scenic lake, known today as Kelly Lake. Not far from the bottom of the hill he encountered a settler, David Reynolds. Reynolds had come from Pavilion Lake on the other side of the mountain. He had been growing and selling vegetables to the gold miners. On the Kelly Lake side he set himself up on a prime piece of real estate at the mouth of Porcupine Creek, establishing a roadhouse to meet the needs of the gold field travelers. The “House” was known as the 38 Mile House and was listed in the Colonist newspaper, along with others, in March of 1863 as a “Good Stopping House”.
The roadhouse was acquired in the mid 1860s by two brothers, George and Edward Kelly. The lake was later named after these two brothers.
Successful merchant in Clinton, F.W. Foster, purchased the property from the Kelly brothers giving him ownership of almost the entire Cut-Off Valley. But by the mid-1880s the legendary Thaddeus Harper of “Gang Ranch” fame was adding to his land empire.
Harper purchased George and Edward Kelly’s original 397 acres as a stopping place for his cattle drives from the Cariboo to the newly constructed Canadian Pacific Railway in Ashcroft. The 397 acres were also operated as a hay ranch until Thaddeus’ over extension on his credit forced his major creditor to call his note. The new owner and creditor were one and the same. The ranch became part of “The Western Canadian Ranching Company” holdings until 1948 when newlyweds, Joe and Doris Illingworth, purchased it from the Western Canadian Ranching Company.
Joe and Doris had shipped all their worldly possessions to their new home at Kelly Lake via the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. Many of the locals referred to the railway as the ‘Please Go Easy’, because it was so slow. However, Joe and Doris Illingworth had the luxury of a rail siding across the road from their new acreage and were given free demurrage for a week to unload at their convenience. In the late 1990s, owners had decided to renovate a small cabin, at one time a ranch bunkhouse, and rent it out for a bed and breakfast. It was while removing the small wood heater that she discovered a small space beneath it, where a hired hand had stashed his whiskey flask.
Later renovations revealed yet another hiding spot, while removing all the old sawdust in the icehouse (used to insulate ice cut from Kelly Lake). One more bottle was exposed, a Chinese beer. This location would have been ideal as the beer would have been kept nice and cool all year round. Both discovered bottles were circa 1900.
Today, the buildings remain at the junction of the Clinton-Pavilion and Jesmond roads. Fabulous photograph opportunities abound on this short jaunt from the Village of Clinton; however, please do not access this historic property.
Historic Site: N 51 00.768 W 121 46.303