Salvaging The Past for the Future October 22, 2021

A treasure-hunting Kamloops couple’s house salvaging adventures

For Josh and Tana Jones, ‘house hunters’ has a very different meaning.

Having travelled as far as Seattle to salvage in old homes, the couple was thrilled to visit inside a downtown Kamloops original just steps from their own home.  Tana says being given the opportunity by the Kelson Group to gather from a treasure trove of domestic materials and objects ready to be reused was a true privilege.

“It is so rewarding to be on the team involved in salvaging building materials from 1912 and repurposing them into our heritage house nearby.  The old house where we’ve been gathering fixtures and wood products is about the same vintage as our own home, so it’s fascinating to uncover and restore what craftsmen were creating decades ago.  We even found the signature of the builder written on a wall!”

The house at 406 Nicola Street, where the salvage work has taken place, was not deemed appropriate for relocation, thus the opportunity to repurpose what could be salvaged was an option. For Tana especially, it’s a passion project and if the walls could talk, it would be a century of conversation involving dozens who have called 406 Nicola Street home for over one hundred years.

“It truly was a labour of love building a home back then and we imagine how many other people loved being a part of it over time.  It’s easy to overlook how well homes were built so long ago until you begin to uncover what lies behind the plaster.”

On the nature of craftsmanship in the early 20th century, Josh and Tana see remarkable value not just in terms of reusing wood and other materials, but the sheer skill-of-hand it would take to build a home before power tools and equipment took over in the post-war boom.

“Kamloops is such a fascinating city architecturally as entire neighbourhoods are almost like time machines.  Street by street, design and building styles indicate what was driving the economy and who would have been moving through them.  We find it so interesting to see well preserved homes and add to that history ourselves.  We encourage others to find their own opportunities too.”

Today, housing costs are very high, and it is increasingly necessary to increase density in urban areas like downtown Kamloops. High-rise building is essential for larger communities to offer options based on walkability and sustainability, which is another incentive for the Jones’.

“Nothing makes more sense to us than recycling building materials from a time when it didn’t mean separating packaging into bins.  It was a way of life on a practical level.  Homes were often built with the intention of lasting as long as possible or occasionally relocating an entire house.  Continuing that tradition today for us is not just a nostalgic effort but also ecological and financial considering the cost of a two by four these days!  Oh, and we really appreciate the resources of the archives at TRU and Kamloops Museum and Archives.  They have so much information available about so many downtown buildings.”

What will soon be a space for essential modern dwellings, the even addresses of 400 block Nicola Street will be reimagined into an entirely new environment more suitable for the requirements of a 21st Century Kamloops. 

“The city is evolving, and redevelopment is necessary as the population changes.  Also, if existing land is made more valuable, we feel the entire community benefits from the investment.  If more people can live within walking distance of work, school, transit services and amenities, everyone is better for it.  That’s how it was for most people a century ago and we feel it makes even more sense to get back to those principles.”

Kelson Group has requested that any people salvaging materials from the homes will give back to the community and the Jones’ have made a donation to the SPCA for which the team at Kelson Group is thankful.

Author: Mandy Curtis Post Date: October 22, 2021

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