By KEEGAN LAWRENCE
WE ARE BACK with another history of Downtown Kamloops article. This week we will focus on the cabin currently displayed in the Kamloops Museum and Archives located on the 200 block of Seymour Street. Last week, Keely Bland, one of the museum educators, kindly gave us a history lesson on the cabin and its inhabitants over the years.
The original inhabitants of this building were Jean-Baptiste Lolo and his family. An extremely significant figure in the history of the Thompson River/Fort Kamloops post, Lolo worked as an interpreter, guide, fur brigade leader, and intermediary. Jean-Baptiste Lolo was Iroquois and French-Canadian. Coming from what is now Eastern Canada, he first shows up in Hudson’s Bay Company records in 1822, and possibly worked for the North West Company before the two companies merged in 1821. In the quickly changing landscape of the mid-19th century, Lolo was able to navigate between the fur trade company, local Indigenous peoples, and the growing number of settlers to the region.
In 1843, HBC moved its post from the northeast side of the confluence (current Tk’emlups reserve) to the opposite side of the North Thompson River (current North Shore) because of perpetual flooding problems. Wanting to stay on the original site, HBC built Lolo this cabin where he raised horses and cattle, traded salmon, and ran his own trading post during the gold rush with the help of his daughters.
Jean-Baptiste Lolo eventually picked up the moniker Saint Paul. As a testament to his prominence in local history, many local geographical and urban sites around Kamloops still bear his name – Mount Paul, Mount Lolo south of Heffley Lakes, Lolo Lake near Clearwater, St. Paul Street right behind the Kamloops Museum and Paul Lake, a short drive from the city.
No information is available on what happened to this building immediately after Lolo died in 1868. It was owned for a time by one of Kamloops’ first Chinese residents, Ah Mee, possibly when he ran the Elks Hotel at Heffley Creek in the early 1910s. The cabin was “re-discovered” in the Heffley Creek area and connected to Lolo by one of the founders of what is now the Kamloops Museum and Archives. They recognized the typical fur trade post-on-sill log construction and talked with locals who remembered Lolo living in the building.
After being stored for several years, the building was re-constructed in 1937 in Riverside Park as the first homeof the Kamloops Museum. The collection quickly outgrew the building and the museum moved to the currently location on Seymour Street in a Victorian House. The cabin was moved inside when the current building was finished in 1957 and again in 2010 with the opening of the Children’s Museum.
This article only explains a piece of the history of the cabin. I recommend for all of you to visit the Kamloops Museum and Archives and check it out for yourselves. You won’t be disappointed.
Keegan Lawrence is a member of the Customer Care and Patrol (CAP) Team. The CAP Team is the Downtown Kamloops ambassador program. Reach them at 250-572-3008/3009 or the Customer Care – Info centre at 250-572-3017.