Our Rustico…

Tokios Bunkhouse – Home Sweet Home

“…. It was while working as a locomotive driver at the Highland-Bell Mine that Johnny (Tokias) chatted frequently with local miners, and hiked up to the by then, out-of-production Sally Mine.  The Sally Mine was a past producer, located 1.5 kms. south-southeast of Beaverdell.  In its heyday, it produced silver, gold, lead, zinc and copper.”

“…. The school house, kitchen and bunkhouse were still intact in the 1950’s and later, Johnny became inspired to move one of the buildings down to land he had purchased in 1963 between Oliver and Osoyoos.  Since, even for Johnny, it would be too much of an undertaking to move all the buildings, he decided on the bunkhouse, and soon had permission to move it.  The bunkhouse had been home to nineteen men, and so was a fair size, but Johnny was determined.  Over the course of about a year, he took the wooden structure apart, piece by piece, numbering each one for shipment down the steep, winding incline of Anarchist Mountain, through the valley to his land south of Oliver.  All he had was a Volkswagen truck and a little trailer on the back.”

“…. Following his wife’s advice, he tried to get a truck, and all of the men he approached, refused.  They well knew that the switchbacks on the road were so high up in the mountain, and were so sharp that a loaded truck couldn’t take the curves.  It was Johnny and his Volkswagen truck with a little trailer on the back.  “He used to come flying through Osoyoos with a small red flag at the end of his logs,” remembers Ursula. “It looked funny doing that.  People were smiling and saying, “There comes Johnny with his logs.”  However, he managed not to have any major mishaps on this two and one-half hour trips down the mountain to 123rd Street, south of Oliver.”

“Johnny came home on weekends, bringing bunkhouse logs with him.  In 1964, the enterprising couple also planted their first three acres of vineyard, which, over the years, eventually grew to ten acres.”

“….The harsh winters up at the Sally Mine had weathered the bunkhouse roof, and so Johnny didn’t transport it.  He constructed a new, rather unique one instead, layered with plywood and tar paper, sod overtop, and later a scattering of animal horns for an even more creative touch.

When Johnny retired at age sixty-five, he had more time to devote to another artistic endeavour – his large, wooden carvings, that still surround the house.  He had showings in Vancouver, Oliver and Osoyoos.  “My husband was an artist at heart, “ says his wife Ursula fondly.  Indeed his memory lives on through his artwork, and the house on the hillside stands as a unique testament to the man himself!”

By Andrea Dujardin-Flexhaug
Okanagan History, 65th Report of the Okanagan Historical Society

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