Cottonwood House Historic Site is officially open for the season, but things will look significantly different this year as the site receives an upgrade.
Cottonwood House opened Thursday, May 16, but there will be limited service during the 2019 season due to capital work taking place at the site. Walkers, hikers and pickers are welcome between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., but the campgrounds, interpretive tours and the General Store will not be available this summer.
“You can picnic and walk through, and we have some private bookings, but we have a lot of work we have to do down there, so it’s going to be difficult to have the regular services,” explained Ed Coleman, CEO of Barkerville Heritage Trust, which manages Cottonwood House. “What we’re doing is we’re trying to get as much done so that in 2020, we can get back to full services. There’s quite a bit of work to do there, and then it will run under a slightly different business model.”
Coleman says their vision is to make Cottonwood a place where people go to have experiences and take part in activities.
“[At Barkerville], you come and get presented to,” he said. “Cottonwood is going to be all about going there to do. It’s going to take a little bit of work to get some of the facilities changed around a bit for that so we can have lots of different activities happening. We’ll be back to full, robust services in 2020, but we’ve got some foundations work we have to do, we have some electrical work we have to do, so it’s kind of complicated to try to run all the services when you have that much to do. All the heritage-zone fencing needs to be redone. We’ve got some structural work to do on the sides of buildings, some upgrades to the cabins that are there and some further danger tree work.”
Coleman say they have lots of great ideas for the site, such as activities where people can learn to make bread or creating obstacle courses with old-fashioned activities.
“It’s really all about doing, and we have hundreds of ideas,” he said. “That’s part of the business model, we’re taking that time to brainstorm, and we have a lot of great ideas. For example, there are nine environmental zones in that 10.85-hectare area, so we’ve got curriculum around analyzing the different bugs that are in the zones, looking at what Mother Nature is doing in each of those zones … and then a lot of the things that happened at Cottonwood when the Boyds ran it, just the different services they had.
“We’ll maintain all the agriculture work, the crops that are going on, the different things that can grow out there and then partner with others that see it’s a great place for activity. We really want to take advantage of the property for all the things that people can enjoy.”
For more information about what is accessible at Cottonwood this year, visit cottonwoodhouse.ca.