The bench was showing its age. It was held together, as is often the tradition in the Cariboo, with hay wire. In the summer of 2013, volunteers took steps to preserve this relic of slower times. (A true restoration project would be far beyond our skill set).
The bench was disassembled – not hard to do, and the pieces numbered. Measurements and sketches were made, and photos taken.
Then reassembly began. The goal was to keep the bench usable, and, as much as possible make the repairs invisible.Original blacksmith made square nails were saved, straightened, and re-used. A few hand made wood screws from earlier repairs were salvaged and re-installed.
Many cracked and split parts were drilled, dowelled, and glued together.Wood screws were countersunk and plugged with matching very old wood. The only parts actually replaced were a couple of diagonal braces under the seat, (which may have been late life repairs).
The bench is in the barn. You can sit on it - and wonder about the many people who sat on it over many decades. Who were they? And why did so many carve their initials in a bench on the porch of a hotel in the Cariboo?
Preservation project by Don Shook and Andrew May
Photos by Lynn Shook