Oliver and District Museum

Osoyoos & District Museum and Archives
Customs Houses Online Exhibit

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Customs Houses:

From "the Narrows" to the 49th

The second customs house in Osoyoos.

The second customs house in Osoyoos; ca. 1865.

In 1865, the first customs house in Osoyoos was relocated from Graveyard Hill to a more strategic location near the modern day Sonora Centre. Customs operations were conducted there until 1878 when the building burned down. By 1882, a new combined customs office and residence for Haynes was opened on the east side of the lake. The edifice still stands to this day and is one of the oldest buildings in the South Okanagan.


The last of the customs houses within the town of Osoyoos.

The last customs house within the town of Osoyoos. Starting in the 1930s, customs facilities existed right on the 49th parallel.

After Haynes passed away in 1888, the customs office was moved back to the west side of the lake. It was located in Theodore Kruger's cabin near today's Sonora Centre until the turn of the century. From 1902 until the early 1930s, the customs house was located along Highway 3 just west of the bridge. The false-fronted building had a corral for cattle and horses.


The first customs house on the 49th parallel.

The first customs house built on the 49th parallel.

In 1930, Canadian customs finally made its way to the 49th parallel. The building was located near the present day entrance to the American-Canadian boundary. It shared space with the Department of Immigration which started in 1929. The building was in use from 1930 until 1952.


The boundary crossing.

The longest running customs facility in the Osoyoos area. The pictured boundary crossing was in operation for more than 50 years before a new building was constructed in 2003.

In 1952 the customs facilities at the 49th parallel were revamped. The facilities consisted of two separate buildings. The western building was used solely for touring or passenger cars coming and going. The eastern building was designed to handle trucks and buses. Warehouse space, cells with barred windows, and search rooms made up the more than 12,000 square feet of floor space.