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The Fur Brigade Trail


The first recorded white explorer and fur-trader was a Scotsman named David Stuart, who went through the valley with a French-speaking companion named Montigny in 1811 on behalf of the Pacific Fur Company. The lucrative fur trade was soon set up. However, after a number of mergers, in 1821 the famous Hudson's Bay Company obtained control, and until 1846 the great company's employees rode once a year up and down the long Fur Brigade Trail between Fort Okanagan (near present-day Brewster, Washington) and Kamloops.

The furs were mostly beaver. Trivial trade goods were exchanged for the pelts, as well as the usual tobacco, whiskey and guns. Ten leaves of tobacco were the payment for one beaver pelt and a yard of cotton goods took twenty skins. Small blue and white glass beads have been found with the skeleton in an accidentally uncovered grave and no doubt many fine furs had been paid for them.

The Fur Brigade Trail went up the east side of the valley and there was a stopping place at the head of Osoyoos Lake. Here the trail crossed to the west side, continued to where Oliver now stands and either made its way across the (later) site of old Fairview and on to the White Lake Road, or climbed out of the valley about four miles north of Oliver over the Secrest Road to Myers Flat, there joining the present White Lake Road; thence it went to Marron Valley and Shingle Creek, coming back to the Okanagan Valley just south of Peachland. Much of this route can be driven over today by following an ordinary road map.