William Henry Ward (also known as “Johnny”), was born in 1823 and came to Yale from Digby, Nova Scotia, during the gold rush. Prospecting was a brief occupation for him and he soon became a teamster driving freight wagons on the Cariboo Wagon Road between Yale and Barkerville. He may have worked for Barnard’s Express, located at the property below his on Albert and Front Street. With the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, his business decreased and he went into the hotel business. He had a hotel near the corner of Douglas and Albert Streets, across from St. John the Divine Church.
The current Ward House is not the original house that Johnny built. He initially built a house at the same location in 1863, but on July 27, 1880 it burnt down in a devastating fire that took half the town. It was reported in the Inland Sentinel on July 29, that his home and new barn were completely destroyed, a loss of $1,000. The following week’s issue of the Inland Sentinel (August 5th, 1880) indicated that Mr. Ward’s home, (the current residence), had already been rebuilt on the original foundation.
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