Early Missionaries

By Bella Harwood

Origins and Dates:

First settlement was built 1840. In 1896, Okanagan Mission was sold to Father Eumelin. Father Eumelin ran the Mission until 1902. Father Pandosy's Mission closed in 1902 and the land was purchased by the Kelowna Land and Orchard Company. 1947 saw the property sold again and it was slated but a group of volunteers rescued the three original buildings on the site. Father Pandosy's original sawn wood church was sold to a local congregation and they moved the church to their site in Rutland where it was later destroyed by fire. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate bought the two acres that held the original buildings in 1954. In 1983, the site was designated as a B.C. Heritage Site. Father Pandosy's Mission is now four acres and other historic buildings have been put on site


Missionaries built the first settlement at the head of Okanagan Lake in about 1840 and near Kelowna in 1859. With the building of the Mission, the name Okanagan Mission came into use to describe the whole area for miles around. It was not until 1892 that the town site of Kelowna was laid out. On completion of the drafted plans of the town site the all important matter of a name had to be considered.

Role of the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail in the development of this category:

Following the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail across the international border, Pandosy and his party made their way forward until they reached the Native village at the South end of Okanagan Lake. So, instead of following the established trail; the party chose to travel along the Rocky Mountains on the East of the Okanagan Lake. By the time of the fur brigades passed through the Okanagan in 1847, protestant missionaries were already established in Oregon territories.

Early European Profile: Father Chares Pandosy

Early History:

Pandosy came from a landowning family in Provence, yet took vows of poverty and devotion once he joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Father Charles worked and lived along the Yakama tribe, where he learned their language and taught them how to plant and harvest.

Reasons for Settlement:

Father Pandosy and Father Richard established the Immaculate Conception Mission in 1859, the first permanent non-native settlement in the interior of BC. The Fathers developed their mission into an important religious, social and cultural center. It is on the Kelowna Heritage Register and is a Provincial Heritage Site.

Early Accomplishments:

Father Pandosy excelled in French and Latin literature. He was also a well known brother for the church. Pandosy was chosen and sent to the vast regions of the Pacific Northwest to provide missionary work to aboriginals and Europeans alike. He met and worked with numerous native societies as far south as Walla Walla and as far North as Prince George, spending some time along the way in Victoria, Hope, and Kamloops. He is most notably remembered for his many accomplishments as the pioneer founder of L’Anse au Sable and the Okanagan Mission, later to be encompassed in the thriving city of Kelowna.

Accomplishments in Okanagan Valley:

Father Pandosy was responsible for the area south of Immaculate Conception Mission, a church which he brought to the Okanagan Valley. It was the first well-known church to cross the Okanagan Valley. He then became ordained and was known as Father Pandosy.

Legacy Today:

In February of 1891, Father Pandosy was called to Keremeos. he was 67 years old and in tentative health. He made it to Keremeos and began his trip back. He made it to Penticton and was very ill. Chief Francoise of the Penticton Indian Band noticed Father Pandosy's illness and took him in. Tom Ellis' wife was called because of her nursing skills. Little could be done for Father Pandosy and he died on February 6, 1891. His body was sent back to Okanagan Mission on the steamer Penticton. Father Emulin then began to run his Mission in 1902. He is well-known for the Immaculate Church and his priesthood.

Driving Question:

What was the Impact of the Early Europens on the growth and Development of the Okanagan Valley?

The impact Father Pandosy had on the growth and development of the Okanagan Valley was that he brought a Catholic Church to the Okanagan Valley. He also built the first settlement in the Okanagan Valley for the fur trade. He is a significant missionary to the Okanagan Valley because of his Catholicism and his contribution to the settlement and fur trade.

Interesting Facts:

The Catholic Church wanted a presence in the New Land because the Protestant Church was already well established there in the mid 1850s, particularly around the Oregeon Trail.

The Catholic Church asked France if they had any priests to send over. Pandosy and a small group of oblates from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), left Marseilles in 1847 when Pandosy was only twenty-four