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Valentine Carmichael Haynes  (1875-1963)

by Katie Lacey


Valentine Carmichael Haynes was the first white child born in Osoyoos, on December 21st, 1875. The eldest child of a family of 3 boys and 3 girls born to Judge J. C. Haynes and his wife, Emily Josephine, who was a daughter of Captain George Pettendrigh, a veteran of the Crimean war. It was necessary to bring in a mid-wife from Ft. Colville, a good three days' ride away, the woman being a Mrs. McDougall, a French half-breed who was 75 years of age at the time. The weather turned very cold and lots of snow came before she was able to return home and she was forced to return to Ft. Colville on snowshoes.

Judge Haynes was the first Collector of Customs at Osoyoos (1861) and Gold Commissioner, appointed Magistrate 1864, and was commissioned County Court Judge in 1886. He had arrived in Victoria from County Cork, Ireland, in 1853 and joined the newly formed B.C. Police force. At the time that Val was born the Customs House was situated just north of where the B.A. gas station is on Highway 97. It burned to the ground during the winter of 1877-78.

[Val Haynes had been] cowboying since he was 8 years old and at a time when the large herds were being acquired in the lower Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. An estimated 20,000 head were running on these ranges in 1890. The mild winters and lush river bottoms attracted the cattlemen together with the markets springing up in the Boundary mining camps and also at the Coast, where the cattle were driven over the Hope Mts. to Ft. Hope, and then by boat down the river to New Westminster and Victoria; Vancouver being a mere infant at that time.

Val Haynes was returning from school at Victoria with his father and half-brother, Fairfax, when the Judge was stricken at Allison's (Princeton) and died before help could be found. He died on his birthday, July 6th, 1888, aged 56. The family returned to the Old Country to finish the children's education and Val returned in 1893. He went to work for Thomas Ellis who had acquired the vast Haynes estate; and when the Shatford Bros. bought out the Ellis holdings in 1905, Val Haynes was made foreman and carried on as such until the Shatfords sold out to the Government in 1919 and the land was made over into a Soldiers' Settlement. Mr. Haynes acquired the Garrison ranch and range, part of the Meadows and later the Swan Lake (Vaseux) ranch together with the range on Kruger Mtn.

He was married to Elizabeth Runnels, whose mother had been a sister to Nespelem George, one of the best known and highly respected Indian Chiefs of the Northwest. Mrs. Haynes was a talented woman, being well known for her oil paintings, and was called to Washington, D.C. as interpreter on several occasions. She died in 1942. One daughter, Alice Thompson, several grandchildren and three sisters survive

Val Haynes had been active until a month before his death. It was his habit for many years to wean the calves on Dec. 14, and on Dec. 21st, his birthday, he would drive the calves to the Swan Lake Ranch. This last birthday, his 87th, was no exception—driving with the help of some of his grandsons, some 200 calves a distance of about twenty miles.

The last of the old-time cowboys, his familiar figure, either on his horse or in his car which he still drove, will be greatly missed in the Oliver-Osoyoos districts; and he will be remembered BIG, where ever cattleman gather. Never looking for glory of any kind, he always saw to it that none of the old-timers, neither white or Indian, ever needed help. His was the spirit of the old-time pioneers and their kind will not come our way again.

He was an outstanding cattleman and cowboy. Although never interested in competition or rodeos, nevertheless it would have been hard to find his equal in roping in difficult places and under difficult conditions. He was a keen judge of horses and cattle and was able to carry on as a successful stockman and cattleman in a big way even with the gradual encroachment of modern roads and smaller holdings. He was a life member of the Oliver Elks, an honorary member of the Oliver Fish and Game Club; and in 1955 was made Oliver's Good Citizen of the Year

So long, old Tillicum.


Published in the Okanagan Historical Society's Twenty-Seventh Report (1963), p. 117.