Heritage home that burned in Rutland Sunday has murky history

Murky history of home

When a Rutland home went up in flames under suspicious circumstances Sunday night, the community lamented a loss of history. 

The home, after all, was listed on the City of Kelowna’s heritage registry with a rich history related to its association with early and prominent families of Rutland. 

But the descendants of the one of the first families to settle in Rutland say the city’s heritage registry is mostly incorrect, showing just how murky the history of Kelowna's early days can be. 

The heritage registry’s statement of significance says the “Sproul House” at 180 Highway 33 E was built in 1906 for Sam Sproul, an early pioneer of Rutland, and sold to Enoch Mugford in 1914, who was very important in the formation and operation of the Black Mountain Irrigation District.

But the granddaughter of Enoch Mugford, 85-year-old Dorthy Jankulak, tells Castanet her family never lived at 180 Highway 33 E. Her grandfather’s home was actually near the corner of Highway 33 and Muir Road and was torn down decades ago when Highway 33 was widened. 

Enoch Mugford had a large swath of land between Highway 33 and Mugford Road and would go on to subdivide the property gradually over the years, giving a piece of land to his son and Dorthy Jankulak’s father, where he built a home in 1934 — Jankulak's childhood home.

“We often went through the fields from our place, to our grandfather's place,” Jankulak said, explaining her father’s house is still on her Enoch Mugford's original property and remains in the family to this day.

Jankulak said Mugford Road was named for her family after her father called the telephone company to request a phone line and they needed an address. 

“They asked him what road they lived on and it had no name, just a long dirt driveway from Rutland Road,” Jankulak said. So, it was named Mugford Road. 

A photo dated 1906 published in the book Down Memory Lane Rutland shows the “Sam Sproul home” that would later become home of the Mugfords. The home is clearly different from the one that currently stands at 180 Highway 33 E. 

A 2018 heritage evaluation of the home at 180 Highway 33 E also concluded that the Mugfords likely never lived there and possibly bought an entirely different house from Sam Sproul.

In her review of the property, Katie Cummer, PhD CAHP of Cummer Heritage Consulting, noted that it is not entirely clear where the “statement of significance” attached to the Sproul House at 180 Highway 33 E came from.

And while the statement of significance said the home was built in 1906 by prominent builder M.J. Curtis, Cummer was unable to confirm that through building records. An online B.C. Assessment listing says the home was built in 1920.

The book Down Memory Lane Rutland states that in 1906, Sam Sproul had M.J. Curtis build a home for his daughter Lillian, who married Ernest Dudgeon, which matches the description of the home that currently stands at 180 Highway 33 E and would later become the offices of H.R. Funk's excavating firm.

Cummer was able to confirm through subdivision plans and archival photographs that the home, prior to the Funk’s ownership, was held by Joe Horning in the 40s and 50s.

Because the source of the “statement of significance” of 180 Highway 33 E is not known, it is not clear how the Mugford family name erroneously became attached to the property.

Jankulak also says the statement of significance is incorrect in that it states Enoch Mugford died in his home in 1969, when in fact, he moved out of the home in the early 60s to a seniors’ care centre — something confirmed by Cummer through the Canada Voters List.

Holly Richardson tells Castanet her family rented the home at 180 Highway 33 E while she was a child, for three months in 1967, from an Edward Bauer. She was completely unaware of any historical significance of the home until it caught fire on Sunday.

In Cummer’s report to the City of Kelowna in 2018, she said the “inaccurate association of this building with Enoch Mugford” influences the significance of the property, “one could argue that its significance is perhaps somewhat less.”

But regardless, Cummer said the home’s “intangible elements” and believed association with the pioneer Sproul brothers are “elements of the building, worth celebrating and promoting.”

It is not known why the statement of significance was not corrected when the inaccuracies were discovered in 2018.

That year, the City of Kelowna’s heritage committee rejected an application from developer Studio 33 Properties to have the home removed from the registry. Ensuing plans from the developer saw the front facade of the home integrated into a mixed-use condo development. 

It is not known if those plans will be possible after the massive damage the home sustained in the fire.

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