Rustico Farm & Cellars is the location of a British Columbia, Canada heritage building. Originally a bunkhouse for 18 miners at the Sally Silver Mine above Beaverdell, British Columbia, it is believed the structure was constructed in the late 1800's as part of that mining company's infrastructure.
John Tokias, a Hungarian immigrant to Canada, who worked as a locomotive driver near the village of Beaverdell discovered the building and gained permission to dismantle it and relocate it the Oliver, B.C. area, some 3 1/2 hours distant. Although he planned to contract the moving of the massive logs, local companies refused his request as the journey entailed moving the structure down a mountainside by truck and it was determined that the tight switchbacks on the mountain roads were too dangerous.
As Mr. Tokias was unable to move the massive logs in this traditional manner, he designed a small trailer, extended this trailer behind an old Volkswagen truck, and personally loaded and hauled the logs 2 or 3 at a time to the valley, then along the roads to a homestead site between the towns of Osoyoos BC (on the Washington/US border) and Oliver BC, a ranching, mining, agricultural town to the north.
With his wife and two children he reconstructed the former mining bunkhouse on a mountainside overlooking the Oliver Valley facing southeast to Osoyoos Lake and the U.S. As the cedar roof of the original structure was in such disrepair that it could not be moved, John Tokias cut sod strips from the adjacent mountainside and created a complete sod-roof covering for his building. On this roof he placed numerous wild animal bones, antlers, skulls etc. Not only was this his unique creative expression but they served to help the sod pieces to knit together to form a very practical roofing solution. The roof attracted a wide variety of birdlife, some species rare to the South Okanagan BC area. Today the sod roof also displays a number of cacti and flowering desert plants and its insulation abilities allow the log structure to remain cool in the heat of the desert summer and with a minimal amount of heat generated from recycled wood pellets, comfortable in the freezing temperatures of winter.
Mr. Tokias, known locally as being somewhat eccentric, became a well-known wood carver, showing his works both in the community and afield. He collected all manner of mining artifacts and utilized many of his findings to establish, for his family's purposes, a small vineyard where he planted Chancellor grapes (French hybrid) .
Over the years, while continuing to work as a locomotive driver nearby, he planted the remaining 10 acres with other grape varieties, the harvests sold to neighboring wineries that were beginning to develop in the Oliver/Osoyoos corridor. Following John Tokias' death his family continued to farm the land but eventually the property was sold.
The new owner further developed the vineyards and then constructed a small building to house a boutique winery operation. The winery was never operational and the property was resold.
The hand-hewn log, sod-roofed former mining bunkhouse, is called a, "rustico", an Italian word for an immigrant's rough countryside lodging, and has provided the name for Rustico Farm & Cellars.
The current owners have revitalized the vineyards and have begun to plant Cabernet Franc to replace the nearly 50 year-old Chancellor vines. Bruce Fuller, Founder and Proprietor of Rustico Farm & Cellars a passionate collector of Canadian and American "old-west" artifacts has showcased a collection on the property. The sampling room located in the winery behind western-style false-fronts is aptly called a "Tasting Saloon" and displays much of his ongoing collection and is a welcome site for visitors looking to travel back in the area's ranching, mining and agricultural history.