Oliver and District Museum

Osoyoos & District Museum and Archives
Customs Houses Online Exhibit

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The First Customs House in Osoyoos


A cairn erected in 1961 at the site where the first customs house was situated.

The cairn pictured here was erected in 1957 on the site of the first customs house. John Carmichael Haynes, the first customs officer in Osoyoos, is buried in the Pioneer Section of the cemetery, across the street from the cairn.

On a visit to Rock Creek in 1860, Governor Douglas appointed William George Cox as Justice of the Peace and Gold Commissioner. John Carmichael Haynes was sent to the region to act as Deputy Collector of Customs.

In 1860, a customs house was established on the lower Similkameen between Cawston and the international boundary line. In September 1861, Cox was granted the authority to construct a customs house at Osoyoos. The site chosen was at the top of Graveyard Hill, 5 miles (8 km) north of the international boundary. Cox, however, would not see the completion of the new customs house. Upon being transferred out of Osoyoos at the end of 1861, Cox passed the duty of Gold Commissioner over to Haynes. Haynes was now the acting Collector of Customs for the Okanagan-Similkameen boundary. The first order of business for Haynes was to complete the construction of the customs house in Osoyoos, a more central location from which to conduct customs operations.




Click here to view an original drawing and the specifications for the first customs house
Building specs for first customs house