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Katie Lacey:  Pioneer and Historian

(an address by an unidentified person to the International Soroptomist Club of Osoyoos, date not ascertained)


Katie was born in Bristol, England on May 23, 1900, the only child of Bob and Ethel Helps. The family arrived in Canada in 1911 and resided at the Haynes Ranch (Judge Haynes) at Osoyoos. Katie received her schooling at Yale and Penticton, B.C.

On August 19, 1918, she married Edward Nicholas Lacey. They moved to Kruger Mountain and resided at the homestead of Nick Lacey near Kilpoola Lake. Nick Lacey passed away in 1919; Ed and Katie took over and ran the homestead at that time.

Helen remembers her mother telling of the trips she made alone on horseback from Kruger Mountain to Nighthawk to get supplies. In the winter, she would take a wagon and a team of horses on the trips to Nighthawk.

In 1931, Ed and Katie moved to Osoyoos Lake. They needed to be closer to schools for their children and the market for their milk and dairy products. They purchased 8.2 acres of sagebrush and cactus for $42 per acre. The property was a beautiful point on Osoyoos Lake (known as Lacey's Point)

There were many cows to milk, bottles to wash and butter to churn. Cream was taken to Oroville and shipped to market on the Great Northern Railway. When the family lived on Richter Pass, the cream was taken to the Similkameen and shipped on the Great Northern Railway there.

Deliveries were make by horse and buggy until 1919 when a Model "T" car was acquired. A fine team of colts was traded to the pre-emption inspector from Vernon for a 1914 Model "T" Ford. In the Settlement on Kruger Mountain, Katie writes that, "they had made a 'bug' out of it, a kind of first cousin to the present-day hot rod. Everything on it was home-made and it served us for seven years."

Katie, as most pioneer women, had a great deal of responsibility and worked hard to support and bring up her family in addition to working in the family dairy business. Many of the clothes worn were handmade. Wool was bought or traded for, which was then carded and spun into strands for knitting sweaters, mitts and socks.

Katie had a love for art. She created and collected many paintings and sketches. Ed, Katie's son, recently learned that his mother had marketed her art to help finance the first museum in Osoyoos. In addition, the original house on Osoyoos Lake was more than a home, it was the start of her museum.

The Osoyoos Museum officially opened on June 15, 1963. Much of the information and artifacts shown in the Osoyoos Museum are there because of Katie Lacey's foresight and desire to save and record the past for our future generations.

Along with her interest in the new, was a desire to know about and record the past. That desire and interest led to the forming of an active Oliver-Osoyoos Branch of the Okanagan Historical Society. Katie Lacey contributed numerous articles to the Okanagan Historical Society annual Reports. Some of her articles include "The Osoyoos Museum", "Osoyoos-Fairview-Oliver Chronicles", "History of Settlement on Kruger Mountain", and "The Churches of Incaneep" just to name a few.

It is interesting to note that in Katie Lacey's records, she never wrote about her own contributions. Tonight the International Soroptomist Club of Osoyoos is very honored to recognize Katie Lacey as a Woman of Distinction for her contribution to the History of the South Okanagan and the collection of artifacts which are on display in our local museum.

I would also like to thank Katie Lacey's daughter Helen Miller, son Ed Lacey and grandson Tom Lacey for taking the time to research and assist us in compiling the information on the late Katie Lacey.