Early Missionaries in the Okanagan

By: Rachel Read

Early Missionaries

When the fur brigades ended in 1847, Protestant missionaries started to settle in the Oregon territories. The Catholic church then called on France to send priests over to settle into the territories. Father Pandosy was one of those priests. Pandosy stayed in Washington for a couple years but was forced out of the U.S.A. due a misunderstanding with the aboriginals. He stayed on Vancouver Island for the winter and then travelled through the Rockies, onto the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail and into the Okanagan Valley accompanied by a couple native chiefs he convinced to settle there.

People followed Pandosy into the valley and settled there. This started building the population in the area and also built up the town.

Role Fur Brigade Trail Played

The Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail led Father Pandosy and his followers into the Okanagan Valley when he started traveling from Vancover Island to start his new mission.

Father Pandosy

Early History

Father Pandosy was one of the missionaries the Catholic Church summoned from France to settle in the Oregon territories. Pandosy came from a wealthy family in France but left for a life in priesthood. He settled in Washington state for a period of time with the Yakama tribe and bonded with them by learning their language and teaching them how to plant and harvest crops. He also baptized them. Father Pandosy was forced to leave due to a conflict with the aboriginals.

Reasons to Settle in Okanagan Valley

When Father Pandosy was forced out of America he stayed the winter on Vancouver Island. He met an Flathead aboriginal man and his wife and convinced them to accompany him on his journey to the Okanagan Valley where he would set up his brand new mission. Kelowna did not have a church that wasn't aboriginal and the Okanagan Valley had nutrient soil and was good for growing crops.

Early Accomplishments

In Washington, Pandosy built strong relationships with the aboriginals in the Yakama tribe. He got to know them by learning their language. He then taught them the French language,how to grow crops, harvest them, build fences, how to play instruments and how to sing hymns in Latin.


When Pandosy arrived in the Okanagan Valley, he settled near Mission Creek. Eventually he built a small longhouse chapel with an upstairs living quarters. He later on built another building, and this building was a church. The first non-native church in the area. It was called the Mission of Immaculate Conception, and this was the start of his mission. Pandosy baptized 121 people of the course of two years. Pandosy travelled all over the valley for business. Unfortunately that's what put an end to him. On a winter trip to Keremeos in 1891, Pandosy became very ill at the age of 67. He died in Penticton on his trip home

His Lagacy

To this day the Mission of Immaculate Conception still exists and is now a B.C. Heritage site. There are also various roads/areas in Kelowna named after him such as Pandosy Street and Pandosy Mission. This shows the huge impact he made on Kelowna and its development.

Driving Question

The Impact Father Pandosy Made on the Okanagan Valley

Father Pandosy helped Kelowna and other areas in the Okanagan Valley develop in many positive ways. When he arrived in the mid 1800's he started a new missin near Mission Creek in Kelowna. He brought many people into the valley with him including some aboriginals. Father Pandosy built the first non-aboriginal church in the valley. It was a small loghouse chapel with a small living quarters upstairs. He called it the Mission of the Immaculate Conception which is now a B.C. heritage site. He built strong relationships with the aboriginal community and taught them useful lessons. Father Pandosy was a huge part of the development of Kelowna by bring the community together.

Fun Fact

Father Pandosy had a remarkable singing voice!