The foundations from the CPR Sicamous Hotel, associated with the rail line, is a site being considered for inclusion in the Sicamous Heritage Registry. (Bard Davidson photo)

The foundations from the CPR Sicamous Hotel, associated with the rail line, is a site being considered for inclusion in the Sicamous Heritage Registry. (Bard Davidson photo)

Sicamous historical society calling for submissions of local heritage sites

Heritage sites not about historical time frame but what shaped the community

The District of Sicamous and the Sicamous and District Museum and Historical Society are compiling a heritage registry for the town, and they want to hear from the community.

A heritage registry is a list of sites of historical value to a community, whether it’s associated with an important person or is representative of a specific style of architecture. There isn’t a time frame associated to the sites; the distinction is more about what kinds of things shaped the community.

The goal of the project is to have Sicamous residents share their suggestions so that the end result represents all people in all eras within the district’s boundary.

Nomination forms can be found on the District of Sicamous website and can be dropped off in-person at the museum visitor centre, 446 Main St., or mailed to Sicamous & District Museum & Historical Society, Box 944, Sicamous PO, Sicamous, BC V0E 2V0. Forms can also be emailed to Nominations should be submitted by February, with an exact deadline to be announced. The project will be finished sometime in 2023.

A map with proposed sites is also available on the website.

The project is in its early stages. Those overseeing are still working on avision for the project, as well as exact guidelines for what qualifies as a Sicamous heritage site. Once sites are nominated, there will be a vetting process in which the historical society will do extensive research and conduct interviews, assuring sites fit the criteria established for the project. Shortlisted sites will then have “statements of significance” prepared to share the site’s story, and will be passed along to the District of Sicamous to be included in the official heritage site document, under Part 14 of the B.C. Local Government Act.

The Red Barn is currently the only heritage designation in Sicamous. A heritage designation differs from a ranking on a heritage registry in that a designation is much more strict. There are severe limitations on what can be altered on a landmark with a heritage designation, and there need to be specific permits in place. Extensive research is done on the original building materials of heritage designation sites for any replacements as well.

A heritage designation gives the district the opportunity to flag a permit, pause development and better evaluate how the site could be preserved for future use.

If a landmark is on a heritage registry, it has more of an honourary recognition. While there is community value to the site, property developers may still apply for permits to alter the structure or build on the land.

The heritage registry project began when a friend of committee chair Barb Davidson wanted to include the 100 year-old R.W. Bruhn House on CPR hill on a heritage registry, but found Sicamous didn’t have one. The Bruhn house is a historical building that once housed R.W. Bruhn, an undefeated politician in the area from 1928 to 1942 who also owned a lumber empire and was a philanthropist. Having this connection to a significant person in Sicamous history, as well as being an old building, the house belonged on a heritage registry.

Davidson agreed the district should have a registry and “a grassroots up-swelling in the community” was formed to achieve that goal.

A member of the community has also nominated the foundations that once supported the CPR Sicamous hotel, part of the historic rail trail. Similar to the rail line hotels in Banff and Lake Louise, the foundations have significant cultural impact.

Splatsin are also involved in the project, and while the society hopes to have a few nominations each year and to keep the registry updated, an exact time frame is still unknown.

Salmon Arm has a heritage registry with about 40 properties on it, and the Sicamous team has taken inspiration from that.

“It’s important to learn from our past, to help inform our future,” said Davidson.

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