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Osoyoos — Fairview — Oliver Chronicles 1858-1958


by Katie Lacey

(as published in the Okanagan Historical Society's 21st Report, 1957, pp. 93-99)


The period 1858-1868 saw much activity in the "Sooyoos" area. Following the Cayuse Indian wars, the Fur Brigade Trail had seen but little use, but with the discovery of gold on the Fraser, (1858) and at Rock Creek and in the Similkameen (1859), and also the Wild Horse strike in the Kootenays (1863), it again came into use and new trails were built. The first wagon train to go over the Okanagan Trail to Kamloops was that of the famous Oregon pioneer, Joel Palmer, in August, 1858. The train consisted of nine wagons with three or four yoke of oxen each. This expedition followed the Hudson's Bay Brigade Trail up the east side of Osoyoos Lake

The Fur Brigades that had travelled north and south now came from the east from Fort Shepherd and Fort Colville by way of Sooyoos Lake, and by way of Fort Okanagan up the Similkameen to Fort Hope, until 1862, when the North American Boundary Commission Survey (1858-1862) was completed. The Hudson's Bay Company then moved all their forts north of the boundary line and posts were established at Keremeos (1862) and Sooyoos (1866).

The Colonial Government ordered a Customs station built at the head of Sooyoos Lake in the fall of 1861, with J. C. Haynes in charge. During the year 1862, 9,285 head of horses, cattle and sheep entered the new Crown Colony of B.C. at this point, and a total of over 2,200 pounds collected. During the same period Dewdney and Moberly were commissioned to build the famous Dewdney Trail from Fort Hope to the Wild Horse Creek mines, crossing at the "Narrows" at Sooyoos and giving it the importance of a junction on the trails.

W. G. Cox had been appointed first Gold Commissioner and Justice of the Peace for the Rock Creek-Similkameen area in 1860. Two years later he was transferred elsewhere and Haynes was put in full charge as well as being Collector of Customs. In 1864 Haynes was appointed to the Legislative Council of B.C. and in 1866 he was made the first County Court judge for this area. He was also responsible for the maintenance of roads and trails. The Customs post was moved in 1865 from, the head of the lake to a point half a mile west of the Narrows "to command all trails." S. T. Marshall received the contract for $750, which included additions to the building. Also at this time the first bridge was built across the Narrows by John Utz and Ben McDonald. It was barely five feet wide and had loose rails which could be removed at high water.

First pre-emptions recorded were G. W. Simpson, May 18, 1867; W. H. Lowe, same date, both at Sooyoos. (O.H.S. 3rd Report.)

In 1860 the Oblate Fathers established a mission on the cast side of Okanagan Lake. They travelled up and down the valley among the Indians by way of the east side of the lake by what was known as the "Priests' Trail." What little mail there was in those days was delivered over this same trail. In 1865 Haynes re-established the boundaries of the Indian reserves.

The Okanagan Indians, a branch of the Interior Salish, claimed the Okanagan Valley from four miles north of Okanagan Lake to four miles below the mouth of Okanagan River, by fishing rights, and east to the Columbia. They hunted and fished over this area under their wise and able chief, Tonasket. They gathered in large numbers at times on the flats on the east side of the Narrows at Sooyoos to fish and hold potlatches, races and games. Sometimes as many as 3000 thus assembled. With the establishment of the boundary line in 1862, Tonasket and a good many of his people went across the Line to form the Colville Reserve, and Chief Gregoire became head of the local Indians on the Inkaneep Reserve at the head of Osooyoos Lake. The Hudson's Bay post, Sooyoos House, opened in 1866, was in charge of Theodore Kruger.

1868-1878

Judge Haynes married Charlotte Moresby at Fort Hope in 1868, and brought her over the Hope Trail to her new home at Sooyoos , where she was the only white woman for many miles and for several years. A son, Fairfax, was born at New Westminster, February 10, 1872, but it cost Mrs. Haynes her life and she passed away on May 5th. In 1872 the Hudson's Bay closed their post and sold it to Barrington Price. Theodore Kruger married at Victoria in 1873 and brought his bride to Sooyoos, and in the same year bought out Price and established a trading post which he operated till 1897. Previous to the Hudson's Bay establishment, the only trading post in the southern area had been 0kanagan Smith's at the foot of Sooyoos Lake in American territory.

Pre-emptions recorded were J. C. Haynes, August 1, 1869; and J. C. Haynes, August 1, 1870. In partnership with W. H. Lowe, Haynes acquired some 22,000 acres of land and built up a large herd of cattle and horses. In 1874 Lowe's cousin, R. L. Cawston, came from Ontario to Sooyoos and was foreman for the Haynes ranch for a period of ten years.

Judge Haynes married Emily J. Pittendrigh in January, 1875, and on December 21, 1875, a son, Valentine Carmichael, was born, the first white child to be born at Sooyoos. A daughter, Dora, was born to the Krugers twelve days later. In April, 1878, the Customs Office burned and the Haynes were forced to seek shelter with the Krugers until the jail, which had not burned, was made habitable. However, Haynes immediately set about building a permanent home on the east side of the lake.

1878-1888

Bishop Sillitoe and his wife visited Sooyoos in 1879 and again in 1883. General Sherman of the U.S. Army with an escort of mounted men passed through Sooyoos on his way to the Pacific coast. The first teachers in the district were governesses to the Haynes children, the Misses Deasy, Phipps and Jenns of Victoria, and Miss Hunter, just out from England. The new Haynes house was finished and the family moved in about 1882. It was a ten-room house of hewed timbers, the lumber for which had been cut at Postill's Mill near Okanagan Mission and rafted down to Okanagan Falls. There it was portaged and then rafted the rest of the way.

In 1888, the judge was returning from a business trip to the coast accompanied by his sons, Fairfax and Val, who were returning from school. At the Allison Ranch, near Princeton, he was suddenly taken ill, and before Dr. Chipps could arrive from Nicola, passed away. The body was brought to the home ranch for burial.

Haynes and Kruger had both set out large gardens and planted apple and peach trees. They relied on Indian and Chinese labor to pack water from the lake in cans for the first irrigation in the district.

In 1887 Fred Gwatkins and George Sheenan staked the Stemwinder at Fairview, some 15 miles north of Sooyoos, to be known later as Discovery claim. Kruger built himself a seven-room house with verandahs all round it, and it became one of the very few stopping places in the valley. The first post office at Sooyoos was opened on April 1, 1884, with T. Kruger as postmaster.

1888-1918

In 1891 Mr. May, a stationery manufacturer from New York, staked G. H. Bowerman and Ben Anderson of Oroville, working the first claims on the Dividend mine in the foothills of Kruger Mountain just west of Osoyoos. In 1892 the government ordered C. A. R. Lambly to move the mining recording office from Camp McKinney to Osoyoos. As there was no road into the camp Lambly hired Thomas McMynn of Meyers Creek to move the office equipment and records with his pack horses. Crossing at the Narrows, one of the horses missed the bridge and swam across. McMynn went into the water after it. The horse, rather excitable, threw up his head, striking McMynn on the head and causing him to fall off into the water. Although help was at hand, McMynn never recovered consciousness. He was a brother to W. G. McMynn, Government Agent at Greenwood and at Golden, one-time Superintendent of Provincial Police and afterwards Superintendent at Oakalla Prison Farm. The Government building was just west of the Kruger Hotel and consisted of two cells, courtroom and living quarters. Lambly married Hester Haynes in 1897. She was the eldest daughter of Judge Haynes. They made their home at the Osovoos Government House until the office was moved to Fairview in 1898. He was also Government Agent and Stipendiary Magistrate. J. R. Brown was the assessor. W. H. Jones of Grand Forks acted as Collector of Customs for a year after Haynes' death till Kruger was appointed. The latter held the post till he died in 1899. By this time Gregoire had died and Baptiste had become chief at Inkaneep. Constables at Osoyoos during this period were Hawtrey, Ralph Deans, Louis Cuppage, Rupert Venner, Fred Elkins and W. B. Haynes.

The Great Northern Railroad was planning on building into the area.  J. J. Hill and Kennedy of that company, G. B. Martin (Minister of Public Works), Father Pat, the beloved Anglican Padre of the Boundary, were a few of the notables of that time to visit Osoyoos. In 1895 T. Ellis acquired the Haynes estate.

But if Osoyoos were quiet, Fairview was the reverse, for it was booming. Familiar were the names of many of the claims: The Sternwinder, Morning Star, Evening Star, Joe Dandy, Brown Bear, Tin Horn, Smuggler, Wide West, August, Wild Horse, Rattler, Black Diamond and the Wynn M. They bring to mind names familiar in many of the camps: Steve Mangott, Harry Rose, Denny McEachern and his brother Archie, H. Mankin, Dunc Carmichael, Harry Simpson, George Wilkinson, Joe Bromley and J. Atwood.

During the twenty years the Fairview Camp ran, a good deal of ore was produced and the settlement grew rapidly. To begin with, the buildings were strung along the gulch, with claims and shafts here and there. F. R. Kline's "Golden Gate," a two storey log building, was at the bottom of the gulch, and the Evan Morris "Miner's Rest" a short way up. Stores owned by W. T. Thompson and W. T. Shatford were encountered as one climbed. Then there was Moffat's Saloon, and at the top, Tommy Elliot's Store. In 1897 the Fairview Gold Mining Co. took over the Stemwinder and new capital flowed into the camp. This company built the "Big Teepee," a three-storey hotel on the flat below the gulch, and made a start on the townsite. Some of the stores were moved down to the flat and new ones were built, one belonging to J. Schubert. Bassett Bros' freight teams were kept busy hauling freight and new machinery to the camp. At one time there were five mills running-the Tinhorn, Smuggler, Joe Dandy, Statheyre and Stemwinder.

During the years Fairview was active, there were, in addition to the stores already mentioned, the following; J. McCuddy, Summerville, D. McDougal, Swinbourne Bros., T. Powers, Love's Drug store and H. McGuffle, who had bought the Shatford store. McCuddy also had the Post Office.

In 1902 the "Big Teepee" burned to the ground and several persons lost their lives, including the manager, P. Mathias. Next year one of the livery stables also burned, and with it 30 head of horses.

Between the years 1900 and 1910 the church records gave the following list of families. Mr. and Mrs. Parkinson and 3 children; Mr. and Mrs. S. D. Hine and family; Mr. and Mrs. C. Lambly and family; Mr. and Mrs. T. R. Brown and 3 children; Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Haynes and one child; Mr. and Mrs. D. Corestine and 4 children; Mr. and Mrs. F. B. Boone and six children; Mr. And Mrs. S. T. Rayburn and 4 children; Mr. and Mrs. R. Russell (Manager Fairview mines) and 2 children; H. Lee and Dr. R. B. White. (Dr. Boyce had been the first doctor in camp but had moved to Kelowna just before Dr. White came.) Mr. and Mrs. C. Jones and 3 children; Mr. and Mrs. A. Phelps and 7 children; Mr. and Mrs. Burnell and 2 children; Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Malone and 6 children; Mr. and Mrs. H. Garrison and 8 children; Mr. and Mrs. J. Campbell and 7 children; Mr. and Mrs. D. A. Carmichael and 3 children; Mr. and Mrs. D. M. McDougal and 2 children; Mr. and Mrs. W. Dalrymple and 3 children; Mr. and Mrs. Joe Graham and one child; C. De B. Greens and 3 children. Other names in camp were Alan Lodwick, Dan Braithwaite, Nell Campbell, Donald McLeod, John Burnett, and the Sinclair family. Also J. Howse, R. S. Paddy Atkin, T. W. Townley, the Madden Brothers, D. Boeing, Sandy McAulay, the J. Adamson family, J. Nicol J. Kearns (who ran the "Fish House") and his family, and many others. In time the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. acquired most of the ground around Fairview and used the quartz which contained silica, needed as a flux in Trail smelter.

When the Fairview camp first started, the only road to it was by way of White Lake and Meyers Flat, and then to Camp McKinney and Rock Creek by way of Wolf Town and McCuddy's. About 1893, the road around Vaseux Lake to Wolf Town was completed. There was also a road, of sorts, known as the Reservation Road, that went through the Inkaneep reserve, down the east side of Osoyoos Lake and by way of Nine Mile and Meyers Creek to Rock Creek, and south of Osoyoos Lake. A road from Fairview to Oroville was made about this time, too, although there was very little at Oroville till after 1900. Some of the stage drivers of that time were Spud Dyer, Bob Hall, his nephew George Watt, and J. Nesbitt. Arnott and Hines at Okanagan Falls ran a stage, as did the Bassetts.

In 1905 Shatford Bros. bought most of the T. Ellis property and established the Southern Okanagan Land Co. The following year Leslie Hill of Nelson bought 1100 acres from Ellis between the Indian reserve and the border, including the home buildings of the Haynes estate, and the next year planted about 40 acres to fruit trees. This was the first commercial orchard in the district.

With the death of Kruger in 1899, Chas. Pittendrigh acted as collector of Customs until J. Love was appointed in 1902. He retired in 1905 and was followed by Dr. D. Corestine until May, 1914, when he was succeeded by Dr. G. S. Jermyn.

Settlers were trickling in, taking up pre-emptions on Kruger Mountain to the west and on Anarchist Mountain to the east. In 1914 A. S. Hatfield bought the stage line from Penticton to Oroville and used a model T Ford on the run. Some work was done at the Dividend mine in 1908 when Paul McDermott and Arthur Madden worked there and again in 1917 when C. Antonson and another man from Oroville worked it on a percentage basis for the Frank's Syndicate of New York. Hand-picking it, they averaged $800 a year. Frank was the father of the boy killed by Leopold and Loch about 1920. In 1910 the first road over Anarchist Mountain was built, from Sidley to Osoyoos.