Agriculture in the Okanagan Valley

By:Emma Girard Blk G

Importance of Agriculture in the Okanangan Valley

Agriculture has been a big part in the build up of the Okanagan Valley. Without agriculture there would be no trace of the Okanagan Valleys precious apples or our amazing vineyards. Without these plants that provided fruit and vegetables for miners, missionaries and settlers there would be no settlement in the Okanagan Valley and no food to provide the people who would have lived here. With such great fertile soil and desired growing conditions vineyards and fruit trees blossom in the valley. Also with Okanagan Lake as a reliable water source for the growth of agriculture.

Role of the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail in the Development of Agriculture

The Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail was used by orchardists and farmers to come to the Okanagan Valley. Since the Okanagan Valley has rich soil which is good for growing orchards and crops. Without the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail the Okanagan valley wouldn't have been able to import or export agricultural goods as the trail was good for trading.

Cornelius O'Keefe

Early History

Cornelius O'Keefe was born on July.26, 1838 near present day Follow field, Ontario. He was the 7th child born to his father Michael O'Keefe a farmer from the Republic of Ireland and his mother Ester Demers a French Canadian wife. Cornelius O'Keefe was raised on his family farm in Nepean Township, Upper Canada.

Reasons for Settlement in Okanagan Valley

The OK Valley was a good place to have a ranch with need for meat to supply for railway workers and settlers, O'Keefe could make a good profit. The open fields growing hay were also good for feeding livestock.

Early Acomplishments

Cornelius helped build the 115 mile house at Lac la Hache while he was in the construction business. He also helped construct the Caribou Road which ran from Clinton to Bridge Creek. Formed a cattle business in Oregon with Thomas Wood and Thomas Greenhow and drove cattle up from Oregon.

Acomplishments in Okanagan Valley

Cornelius with Thomas Wood and Thomas Greenhow formed a cattle business and herded the cattle to the Okanagan Valley. Just past Vernon close to Armstrong, O'Keefe and his partners made a cattle ranch. Around 1868 the O'Keefe ranch was 162 acres. By the mid 1890's the O'Keefe ranch was about 12,000 acres with cattle, sheep and wheat. Cornelius O'Keefe was the first rancher in the Okanagan Valley to open up a general store on his ranching property. On his property the first Okanagan post office was established with O'Keefe becoming the postmaster on August.14, 1872 for 40 years. The ranch became a gathering place for newcomers to the Okanagan Valley.

Legacy Today

Cornelius O'Keefe died on May. 27, 1919 near Vernon. Now his ranch is a heritage site where people can learn about the life of O'Keefe and what it was like living on the ranch. Many buildings are there including a church, school house and general store. You get to see how different things were back when there was no cities .

What was the impact of Cornellius O'Keefe on the Growth and Development of the Okanagan Valley?

Cornelius O'Keefe was one of the early cattle ranchers that settled in the Okanagan Valley. He provided food mostly meat for new settlers and railroad workers. People then knew if they came to the Okanagan Valley there would be food if they decided to settle in the OK valley. O'Keefe made his ranch an inviting place for settlers or people who were traveling through the OK valley. O'Keefe was the first rancher in the OK valley to open up a general store on his property this then led for his ranch to be sort of like a little village. The O'Keefe ranch was the place where the OK post office was first put. This made the ranch a popular place. Overall Cornelius made the Okanagan Valley more of a welcoming and established place.

Interesting Facts

Cornelius O'Keefe married an Okanagan women which connected him more with the First Nations.

Picture of O'Keefe Ranch

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The O'Keefe Ranch is located just above Vernon near Armsrong

Picture of O'Keefe Ranch Now

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