The following provides brief descriptions of some of Summerland’s early pioneers and families by volunteer Judith Chidlow. There is much more information on these families in our family files at the museum, which members are welcome to access for free. You can also read more about pioneers in the Anglican Church Cemetery Tour by David Gregory HERE. Another great resources is WikiTree, and Summerland families can be found HERE. If you are a member of the Museum, you are also welcome to use our Ancestry account on our research computer!
IRVINE CLINTON ADAMS
Irvine Clinton Adams was born on Sept. 2, 1902 in Swan Lake, Manitoba. He was the youngest child of Silas Hamblin Adams and Ann Jane (Jennie) Docking. His siblings were a half-brother Ernest (from an earlier marriage of Silas), Clarence, Helen, and Fairy. The Adams family arrived in Summerland from Manitoba in March 1904. Silas purchased property in Garnett Valley in 1907 from the Garnett Valley Land Company that he began farming. In 1916, Silas died and Ernest and Clarence continued to farm the property, which they inherited from their father.
After graduating, Irvine and Helen both worked in the packing house. Irvine took a printing course and did posters for local businesses, but it did not prove to be very lucrative.
In 1934 Irvine began taking art courses at the H. Faulkner Smith School of Applied and Fine Arts in Vancouver. He shared a small apartment with his sister, Fairy, who was taking a dress design course at the Wescott School of Dress and Design. Fairy began teaching sewing at Coqualeetza Residential School where she met fellow teacher, Doreen Milsom.
Doreen visited the Adams family in the summer. She and Irvine were married in August 1936 and lived in a small cottage on the farm in Garnett Valley. Irvine and Doreen formed the Milsom Candy Co. making handmade chocolates in the Adam’s home. These were marketed locally through the Hudsons Bay Co.
In 1940 Irvine went to Montreal with Pat and Don Agur and Bob MacLachlan with plans to enlist in the war but was rejected as being too old. Irvine then worked in airplane maintenance in Montreal and Halifax, and Doreen joined him in Halifax.
Irvine and Doreen returned to Summerland after the war and lived on Peach Orchard Road. Irvine was an ardent gardener and kept a trout pond, which he was very proud of. Irvine was employed as a labourer by Kenyon Construction and the Agur Logging Company. He worked as a faller, scaler, and lumber grader on the Bald Range and at the mills at Curtain, Thirsk, and Osprey lakes until 1961. When working in the camps, Irvine painted in the evenings from photographs that he had taken.
Over the years, he began submitting his work to art shows. Irvine became better known for his work in London, Paris, and the U.S. than locally. Some of the places that his work was exhibited included the International Art Show in Kelowna, the Royal Institute Galleries, the National Art Festival in New York, the Spring Salon in Paris, and the Royal Institute Show in London.In May 1971 one of his pictures “On the Trail of the Okanagans” was presented to Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Penticton B.C.
Doreen helped support them by writing jingles and entering contests for different products winning money and even a new car. She was also interested in preserving land from development and was an ardent supporter of the Okanagan Similkameen Parks Board. Over the years they were able to purchase nine lots surrounding their home, which became the nucleus of the Adam’s Bird Sanctuary in Summerland. By 1961 Irvine was doing his art full time as he prepared for his first big local exhibition in November at the West Summerland Library. As he became better known, he became busier and people waited for up to four years to receive work that they commissioned. Irvine Adams died in 1992 and Doreen in 1996.
Robert Henry Agur
Robert retired from his position as western manager of Massey-Harris and moved to Summerland in 1904, hoping to improve his health. He bought four blocks of land in the Cartwright area before he built a home, Balcomo Lodge, and operated a fruit farm in Prairie Valley.
Growing fruit was only part of the business of a fruit farm. Selling could be accomplished through a shipper who used a broker that negotiated with a jobber whose main interest was supply for a grocery chain. This system usually did not favour a grower. Prices offered for their fruit kept dropping, so expenses were hard to meet. Many growers tried to sell independently and found that large business was too effective in lowering prices. Those growers then tried cooperatives and unions. Others tried secondary fruit industries such as jam making, fruit drying, and canning.
When his health regained, Robert helped organize the Okanagan Fruit Union in 1908. The Agurs operated Balcomo Cannery on their ranch. In 1911 and 1912, he served as president of the British Columbia Fruit Growers Association.
Robert was also a councillor on Summerland’s first council with J. M. Robinson as reeve. He then served as Reeve of Summerland in 1909 and 1910.
More information can be found HERE.
George Barclay came to Canada in 1885 intending to take up cattle ranching. He worked for Tom Ellis and started his ranch with 620 acres in the present-day Summerland provided by his father. Having built a log cabin, he raised funds in England to purchase a large property from David Lloyd-Jones. In 1891, water rights were obtained though his efforts to divert water to his ranch were not very successful. He pursued his business idea of "a teaching ranch” and advertised back home for pupils to come to the sunny Okanagan, and they came. He was looking for "Gentleman Ranchers" in England, men who would be interested in learning about cattle raising, horses, and riding the range. He convinced some of his Harrow School classmates to come (Foster, 1998. p. 55). George Nevil Barclay and Caroline Mary Cornwall were married September 4, 1897 in Ashcroft, British Columbia. They farmed in Summerland and by 1901 had two children. In 1898, construction of St. Peter’s Church began with the labour of ranch hands from the Barclay and Gartrell ranches.
The Barclay household in 1901 consisted of George and Mary and two sons aged 1 and 2, Basil Laurance, lodger; brothers Forbes and William Fosbery, boarders; a cook and two domestic servants. They sold the ranch and moved to Ashcroft Manor by 1902 as Caroline wanted to return to her home, and shortly after she died of a rattlesnake bite. George then married Caroline’s sister, Maud.
Ranchers brought to Summerland:
Ralph W. Deans worked on the Barclay Ranch. He formed a partnership with Bob Faulder, but after a year, he became a constable in Midway.
Robert “Bob” Faulder was George Barclay’s first pupil. He arrived in 1891 or 1892 and moved to Upper Trout Creek to ranch with partner Ralph Deans in 1902.
Will Fosberry arrived in Summerland in 1896 and became an outstanding contributor to community life in church, sports, and politics.
Granville Morgan arrived in B.C. in 1893 and worked for various ranchers in the Summerland area. He settled in Trout Creek as an orchardist.
M. H. Turner
Richard Turner arrived in Summerland in 1896. He married Sarah Pierre and lived Upper Trout Creek. Later he established Canyon Ranch, which was sold to Granville Morgan around 1904.
Harry and Jim Dunsdon
Harry was born in 1873. He was the son of James Dunsdon and Lydia Fitkin. He came to Canada from Harrow, England in 1891 when he was 17 years old. In 1892 he pre-empted 320 on Eneas Creek, now in Summerland, British Columbia and built himself a log cabin. He is credited with building the first Garnett Valley dam and distributed the water with flumes and ditches. His brother Jim joined him in 1895 and pre-empted adjoining land, living with Harry for several years. In 1901 they had a lodger named Granville Morgan.
Harry started cattle ranching but turned to fruit growing and became well known in the fruit industry. Harry Dunsdon and Annie Beatrice Stevens were married in Vernon, British Columbia on June 1st, 1904 in St. Peter’s Anglican church- the first recorded wedding in Summerland. They lived in Summerland, British Columbia. By 1921, they had 7 children.
James was born in Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, England on 13 Jul 1877. Jim Dunsdon came to Trout Creek, now Summerland, in 1895 at the age of 18. He pre-empted land adjoining his brother and began to grow fruit. Jim married Hannah Harvey in 1905 and had 4 children. They lived in the house he built on his property until his death. He was a fruit grower all his working life, and a keen marksman. He was rewarded with a life membership in the Oddfellows after years of active interest.
Jim died on November 5th, 1955 in hospital in Penticton, British Columbia and was buried in Peach Orchard cemetery.
Born in England in 1873, Bob was 19 years old when he arrived in the Summerland district in preparation for a career. He had answered a newspaper advertisement placed by George Barclay that offered to teach ranching to young men. Students could stay on the Barclay Ranch where cattle and horses were raised for market. He participated in taking herds of horses to Ashcroft along the Hudson’s Bay Brigade Trail and to the Fraser Valley along the Dewdney Trail. Bob pre-empted 320 acres of land five miles up Trout Creek in 1891.
Bob’s future wife, Margaret Nicholson, came to the Barclay Ranch to be a governess to the Barclay children in 1901. Bob and Margaret were married in 1902 and lived in a comfortable log house. They had a grass tennis court at home and enjoyed going to the Tennis Club in town. Bob also enjoyed horseback riding and was a rockhound. Margaret was artistic and good at needlepoint, embroidery, and fine sewing.
Bob had an orchard although he could afford to live the life of a gentleman farmer. When his orchard bore fruit, Bob built his own packing house. His main crop was Jonathon apples.
The Kettle Valley Railroad rail line was to pass through the Faulders’ log house. Bob built a frame house across the creek and had it nicely landscaped. When the railway was completed 1915, a flag station there was named Faulder. He also built a cottage on Crescent Beach.
James Gartrell arrived in Trout Creek in 1885 from Ontario (near Stratford) and pre-empted a piece of land, cleared it, and built a home with the logs. He brought his wife Mary and family from Ontario via Spokane in 1887. They were the first white settlers in the area. He started Summerland's first commercial orchard with apple trees he brought from Ontario in 1887. Peach trees were soon added, and they had a large impact on Summerland’s history. He was also granted the first water license (1888) in order to dam the waters of Trout Creek, thus providing irrigation to his fruit trees. His peaches were hauled to Camp McKinney and Fairview in a wagon pulled by a team of six horses to provide the miners of with fresh fruit. It took three days to make the round trip. This was the beginning of fruit marketing in Summerland, later an important business.
Like most pioneers, he found various ways of earning money. He built a wharf near the mouth of Trout Creek and sold firewood to steamboats from it. In 1896, they built a barn and a frame house for the family. The house was also used as a post office briefly. James died in Summerland on July 26, 1930 and was buried in the Anglican Cemetery there. More information can be found HERE.
Kichinojo (Jack) Imayoshi
Kichinojo Imayoshi was born in Japan in 1890 to a very poor farmer. At the age of 17, after hearing of glorious fortune in America, he decided to leave Japan to earn money to send home. There were no passports to the mainland US, so he went to Hawaii. In 1907 he was working on a sugar plantation in Honolulu when the US government closed its doors to Japanese immigration. Imayoshi and over 1000 other young men boarded a boat to Vancouver. After a large anti-Japanese riot in Vancouver, he went to work on the CPR. He bounced around for a while trying to find work in Vancouver and northern BC but had no luck. He eventually found himself working in an orchard in Summerland in the summer and chopping wood in the bush in the winter. He returned to Japan in 1919 to get married. He brought his wife back to Summerland and they raised two sons and three daughters. After much hard work and struggle, they established a successful orchard at what is now the site of Summerland Secondary School. He died at the age of 105 in 1995.
WELLINGTON CLIFTON KELLEY
Wellington Clifton Kelley was a lawyer in Summerland when it seemed there wasn’t any need, but he still managed to keep busy. Mr. Kelley arrived in Summerland in 1909 with his wife, Laura Marie Antoinette Mott, and everyone assumed his stay would be short. This was not because of his chosen profession but rather that he was terribly ill when he arrived and was rolled into town off a boat on a stretcher. He was suffering from tuberculosis, and it was believed the climate of the Okanagan was a worthy cure. Even the captain of the S.S. Okanagan wouldn’t blow the ships horn for fear of stressing his ill passenger.
However, against all odds, Mr. Kelley survived and was able to live a long, happy life here in Summerland. While practicing law here, one of his convicted was quoted to have said, “You know, Kelley, I wish the Captain of that boat had tooted his whistle!”
This sort of reaction was to be expected with how Mr. Kelley dealt with some of his cases. One example was a case that depended on the identification of the guilty party. The incident was a robbery at one of the Lower Town stores. The only witness to have seen the suspect only saw him from behind, running from the scene of the crime. The witness claimed that he knew who the thief was because he worked with the man and had seen him run everyday to the outhouse and back again. But Mr. Kelley argued that seeing someone run to and from the outhouse made no sense. Running to the outhouse was understandable, but running to return to work did not match the characteristics of someone who becomes a thief. And with this observation, the accused was pronounced innocent. Kelley was later declared the Judge of the County Court.
John Lawler, known as “Jack,” managed the Summerland packing house of the Okanagan Fruit Union from 1911. He had come to Summerland the year before to be packing manager for Sterling and Pitcairn, independent fruit packers. When he started packing, Okanagan fruit packers were Chinese immigrants and young boys. Jack decided to train women to pack fruit, starting with seventeen women, the first to be so employed in the region. Summerland’s production that year was about 20,000 boxes of apples and peaches. His training was so successful that he was asked to train for the whole Okanagan Valley. These women earned what was considered good money at the rate of 4 cents per box. Jack also displayed local fruit to shows in Chicago, Portland, and Spokane. He became the World Champion Apple Packer at such shows. In 1916 he chose the first fruit grader to be used in the Okanagan Valley for the Summerland Fruit Union. He supervised cooling of fruit to an even 40 degrees Fahrenheit using chopped ice to keep it in good condition.
Jack left Summerland for a few years, spending eight years demonstrating fruit packing and grafting for the federal government. He taught fruit packing at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph; MacDonald College in Quebec; in Kentville, Nova Scotia; and Fredericton, New Brunswick. Jack returned to become B.C. Fruit Shippers’ first manager in 1929.
Foster, Sherril. (1998). According to the Giant: A History of Summerland and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.
Robert Service said “Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee” and continued to spin a tale that has become well known to Canadians. There was a real Sam McGee in the Yukon whose life was interesting without Service’s help. That Sam also lived in Summerland. Robert Service borrowed Sam’s name to use in a poem he had begun to write, and maybe some of Sam’s adventures got in too.
The real Sam was a prospector from Ontario. Sam McGee's full name was William Samuel, but he preferred to be called Sam while in the Yukon. He had little success in prospecting. He became a builder and freighter. He and a partner had a roadhouse at Canyon Creek, so he was called the Roadhouse King.
In 1909, Sam McGee, his wife Ruth (nee Warnes), and family left the Yukon. Ruth had two sisters living in Summerland: Ella (Mrs. Jack Lawler) and Mildred (Mrs. James Ritchie). So in 1910, the McGees bought residential and orchard land in Paradise Flats. By this time, his name had become famous due to Robert Service's poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee." Constant comments about the poem led him to revert to using his name as it was before living in the Yukon, William S. McGee. McGee was known as a great axe-man and helped James Ritchie clear Paradise Flat. McGee was a road engineer and received at least one contract from the Municipality to improve Summerland’s roads.
By 1912, the McGees had moved to Alberta where they tried homesteading, and Governor General G.H.V. Bulyea appointed McGee a Justice of the Peace. Later, the McGees moved to Montana, and William continued his road engineering career. He variously farmed, worked on roads, and did construction before settling in Alberta.
They returned to the Yukon in 1938 to try prospecting again. In 1938, he made a pilgrimage into an area north of Whitehorse where he was convinced he could finally find the mother lode, but the gold eluded him. Again, he came out empty-handed except for a bag of "Genuine Sam McGee ashes" that he bought at his original cabin that had been turned into a tourist attraction.
His real death was the result of being gored by a bull after he had left Summerland. When McGee died, he wasn’t cremated but was buried in the Rosebud Church Cemetery in Beiseker, Alberta. His grave marker reads: “In Memory of W.S. McGee 1867-1940”.
For more information click HERE.
William Henry Blanchard Munn
Known as Blanchard, he came to Summerland with his family as a child of 10. While here, his father established an orchard. He was born in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and was the eldest child of Alexander and Louise Munn, who were to have seven children. He attended school in Summerland, then studied Medicine at McGill University. After graduating as a Medical Doctor, he practiced medicine in northern Ontario. In 1930, he married Helen Cameron and they had two children. He returned to Summerland in 1944, replacing Dr. F.W. Andrew who was retiring. Dr. Munn practiced medicine in Summerland, also serving as Coroner, until retiring in 1965. He was then made a life member of the Summerland Hospital Society.
Blanchard became very involved in Summerland’s community life. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and a charter member of the Summerland Rotary Club. For many years, he was chairman of the Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety classes held at Rotary Beach. He served as Honorary President of Branch 22 of the Royal Canadian Legion. His interest in valley history resulted in his becoming a Director of the Okanagan Historical Society and the Penticton Historical Society, as well as vice-president of the Summerland Museum Society. He contributed the history of Summerland’s hospitals and the Hospital Auxiliary to The Summerland Story. In 1967, he and Bert Stent added to The Summerland Story to be sold as a Hospital Auxiliary fund raiser. All this activity and more led to Dr. Munn being awarded the Good Citizen of the Year cup in 1969.
Findlay Munro came to Summerland around 1903, having been born in Cullrain, Rosshire, Scotland and sampled working in Queensland, Australia. He worked wherever he could find employment and purchased a house and small orchard. After a long search for suitable orchard land to pre-empt, he pre-empted a lake that had formed behind a beaver dam. He breached the beaver dam and set out to develop a ranch there, naming it “Lakefields”. He was able to raise a crop on it in 1910. In February of that year, he married Violet Nelson in Summerland. The first house and orchard were sold and the family, consisting of Findlay, Violet and infant Donald, lived in a large tent house until a 6-room log house was built in 1914. His main crop then was hay. Findlay obtained water storage rights in Darke Lake and built a dam. Conflict over water rights followed.
Findlay enlisted in the 78th Battery, Canadian Artillery. He was transferred to the 4th Division and served in France, seeing action in Vimy, Amiens, and Passchendaele, until the war ended. Seeing that hay was not going to continue to be a good business, he purchased beef cattle around 1921 and in 1925 turned instead to dairy cattle. That business grew steadily until World War II. Lakefields was sold in 1952, and Findlay and Violet retired to a smaller home with a cherry orchard in Penticton. In time, both were buried in the cemetery of the church in which they were married- St. Peter’s Church of England.
Munro family file in Summerland Museum:
· Chronicle of F. Munro, Donald Munro, compiler.
· “Early Day Summerland” article
Mary and Isobel Spencer came to Summerland in 1909 from Kamloops where Mary “had run her own photography business successfully in a new town, far from her Ontario roots.” Mary was a professional photographer with an individual style. She made a documentary of the capture and trial of the infamous train robber, Bill Miner, for the Vancouver Daily Province and for the BC Provincial Police. However, Mary was not given credit for her photos. She was also the only woman allowed in the courtroom during Bill Miner’s trial.
When Mary and Isobel first came to Summerland, they stayed with the family of Reverend A.W. McLeod who had been their pastor when they settled in Kamloops and then became a fruit grower. They arranged to have a handsome and comfortable stone house on Quinpool Avenue in Summerland and lived in a tent house on the property to oversee the house construction. Mary and Isobel became independent fruit ranchers. Both were involved in the Baptist church activities and the W.C.T.U. At home, they cultivated beautiful gardens. Mary died in Summerland on September 1st, 1938. Isobel continued to live in Summerland after her sister’s death.
Foster, Sherril, A Steady Lens: The true story of pioneer photographer Mary Spencer, Caitlin Press, 2013.