Larry and Vicky Graitson (seen here on May 22, 2020 with their dog Moses) have lived in the house at Gwynne Vaughan Park for 17 years as the caretakers. They are moving out as of June 1, 2020. See more photos at the end of the story. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Caretakers say goodbye to Gwynne Vaughan heritage house in Chilliwack after 17 years

Larry and Vicky Graitson have seen a lot of changes at the community park over the years

A lot has changed in the 17 years since Larry and Vicky Graitson have been the caretakers of the Gwynne Vaughan heritage house, but their love for the 124-year-old home has not.

“We love this place. She’s a nice, beautiful old home,” Larry said.

It was home to Adelaide Gwynne Vaughan (1907 to 1993) for almost her entire life.

The couple of 47 years settled into the home located at Gwynne Vaughan Park in 2003 after their Lewis Avenue home went up in flames.

When they took on the role of caretakers, there wasn’t really an official job description for them other than unlocking the gate to the park in the morning and locking it back up again in the evening (the park is actually run by volunteers who tend to the gardens). And a year after they moved in, the Gwynne Vaughan Society started taking bookings for groups such as weddings, to which the Graitsons agreed to liaise.

READ MORE: Volunteers help with Gwynne Vaughan Park spring cleanup

They have keys to nearly every single neighbour’s house, but over the past several weeks the Graitsons have been handing back those keys and at the end of this month, they will be handing over their own set of keys to the Gwynne Vaughan heritage house.

As of June 1, Larry and Vicky are moving and will no longer be the caretakers of the picturesque Chilliwack site.

When they moved in to the home Vicky said it was going to be their “last great adventure,” and what an adventure it has been.

For the most part, being the eyes overseeing the park has been pleasant. They smile and wave as folks stroll around the grounds, chat with people who walk their dogs along the pathways and let people pick apples from the trees to the west of the house, even though they’re not supposed to – the fruit would simply go to waste and they figure someone should enjoy it.

The two have stories of all the wild animals that have been part of their lives. There was the trio of flightless baby crows that fell out of a tree the Graitsons would bring inside their home at nighttime and place it back outside on the ground for the birds’ mother to feed during the day until the young birds could fly on their own. There’s the family of deer who feast throughout the park, starting at the vegetable gardens by munching on lettuce, moving along to the rose bushes and finishing off with dessert at the apple trees.

And then there’s Squeaker the orphaned squirrel who adopted them when she was just a baby. Every time Larry would head outside the house and call her name, within seconds Squeaker would jump from her tree to his shoulder and scurry all around his chest looking for the nuts he hid in his pocket.

But along with the good times came the bad.

They’ve had to kick noisy people out of the park at all hours of the night. Homeless people sleeping there was a problem, as were the people who would drink and do drugs.

The Graitsons have had people shout and swear at them, while others threatened them.

Others walking through Gwynne Vaughan Park would either not see or ignore the “private property” signs surrounding the house. They’d peek in the windows thinking that the beautiful heritage home itself was public space – it’s not.

Over time, their private old home was not so private anymore.

And it was not nearly as quiet as it once was either.

When they first moved in Larry called Gwynne Vaughan Park “Chilliwack’s best kept secret,” but he not longer calls it that.

There’s been population growth in the area. The Graitsons have seen single homes torn down and townhouses built in their place, and with it has come an increase in traffic and private events at the once quiet park.

“We’ve enjoyed living here, it’s been a beautiful place. Everything has its faults, nothing’s perfect by any means,” Larry said.

But now the Graitsons are ready to retire and move (again) to a nice, peaceful place.

On Monday, the couple will be locking the door to “Gwynnie’s” house for the last time, taking one last stroll through the gardens and heading off to Princeton.

“All good things come to an end,” Vicky said.


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

chilliwackparks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Larry and Vicky Graitson (seen here on May 22, 2020 with their dog Moses) have lived in the house at Gwynne Vaughan Park for 17 years as the caretakers. They are moving out as of June 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Larry and Vicky Graitson (seen here on May 22, 2020) have lived in the house at Gwynne Vaughan Park for 17 years as the caretakers. They are moving out as of June 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Larry Graitson looks at an abandonned sweater in an apple tree at Gwynne Vaughan Park on May 22, 2020. He and his wife, Vicky, have been the caretakers of the house at Gwynne Vaughan Park for 17 years and they are moving out as of June 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Larry and Vicky Graitson (seen here on May 22, 2020) have lived in the house at Gwynne Vaughan Park for 17 years as the caretakers. They are moving out as of June 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Iconic Chilliwack store passes clothing racks on to downtown neighbours

Chilliwack Mission Thriftstore given racks and fixtures as downtown store closes for good

Fiscal statement from the feds lacked clear plan for economic recovery: MP Strahl

While Conservatives backed emergency supports, it’s now time for ‘transparent plan to guide recovery’

Ride for cancer in Langley will take place Sunday, despite COVID-19

Annual fundraiser will be ‘really different,’ but classic cars are expected, organizer promises

Vancouver double homicide leads to arrest in Harrison Hot Springs Wednesday

VPD and RCMP tracked dumped vehicle connected to killings to Chilliwack

Multiple accidents slowing westbound Highway 1 traffic

3 accidents in Langley, Abbotsford within 30 minutes

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Surrey officer-impersonation scam continues ‘almost daily’

Police reiterate warning that demands for Bitcoin in exchange for waived charges are fraudulent

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

Most Read