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Lost buildings: The Yahk lock-up

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Here are two photos of the old Yahk police station/lock-up that I took on Aug. 11, 2004.

This building has since disappeared and it’s hard to even tell where it once stood. But it was at 9006 Railway Ave., near the corner of Railway and North, next to the hotel/saloon. I don’t know what the number on the sign (N23978) referred to. It certainly wasn’t a fire number.

This building was constructed in 1919 by Jones and Doris of Cranbrook for $3,000. An addition on the right-hand side, mirroring the original section, was completed in late 1927 by Doris Construction Co. of Windermere to create a living space for the local provincial police officer and his family.

Michael Kluckner has written about the history of this building on his Vanishing BC site and its companion book, including the plans for the addition along with his watercolour.

It’s not clear when the building ceased to be used for its original purpose, but I can’t imagine that it survived the transition from the BC Provincial Police to the RCMP in 1950.

The last reference I can find to it is from 1942 when it was part of a practice maneuver by the Yahk 49th Co. Rangers. According to a newspaper report they “‘destroyed’ the agreed-on objective, the Yahk police station, and ‘bombed’ it from without and from within.” The item didn’t elaborate on what that meant, nor whether the station was still in use at the time.

Ironically, given that in the early days of the lock-up the local officer would have been busy enforcing prohibition, it was reportedly turned into a liquor store in the 1940s.

As of 2000, Stan Junglas owned the building as well as the Yahk Hotel. Another local resident later purchased it. Despite the community’s hope that it would be saved and restored, it was torn down in 2006 or 2007. According to the current owner of the property, the foundation was made of rail ties that disintegrated due to lack of maintenance. Bars from the cells were donated to the Creston Museum and a few old bottles were discovered.

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I think some old buildings should be cremated on a cold winter night, accompanied by singing and mugs of hot rum.

Ken Bryden

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