Preserving a piece of Kelowna’s history, one brick at a time, is a dream come true for Natasha Holt and Jon-Paul Gagnon.
The couple owns the company Reclaimed Elements, where they take what’s old and make it new again. Every brick in the rubble that used to be the Knox Mountain Brickyard, they say, is precious to them.
“This building was founded in 1905 and the bricks came in from a company Clayburn in Abbotsford. They first started a kiln there, created bricks and brought them here, and then the Knox Mountain Brickyard was created,” said Holt.
Together they are pulling apart one of the oldest buildings in the city, all while saving part of its history.
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“The first wall that was built here was for the Knox Mountain Brickyard,” said Gagnon.
“Taking that one down was a little bit harder to take down because of the infrastructure that was part of it. It had to come down in a rubble pack where we were then able to salvage as much as we can.”
The historic bricks are about to take on a new life, as the team has been working carefully to ensure as many are preserved as possible
“With this one [the building that is still standing] we are hoping to do a pony pinch, which is where you rip it into sections, pinch it and try to save it as a whole.”
Of the 20,000 bricks, they estimate they can save 16,000.
The bricks will then help build new buildings, go into a museum, become feature walls, go into storage and maybe even become a pizza oven in a restaurant as a showpiece.
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“We are taking history and bringing it back to life,” said Gagnon.
“If you get rid of the history, you get rid of our past and you get rid of our lives … these bricks have been all over B.C. and they pretty much built our town. So we are taking one brick at a time to re-purpose them and rebuild them.
The past two months for the team have been meticulous and hot as they work to gather the bricks and build connections with different museums and contractors.
They have many months ahead to continue the preservation project — work they say is well worth it to ensure the city’s history isn’t lost.
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