Okanagan Explosion

By Kara Stansfield (Block G)

History of Agriculture in the Okanagan Valley

Origins and Dates

In 1862 Father Pandosy planted the first fruit trees in the Okanagan Valley which were brought up from the St. Mission in the Fraser. In the 1890's the Aberdeens started their own ranch growing fruit trees along with hops to make enough money until their fruit trees began to produce fruit. Many new settlers traveled to begin their own fruit business but many of them didn't understand how to grow fruit and ended up growing easier crops instead. By 1900 there were over 1million fruit trees growing in the Okanagan.


Agriculture was a very important part of developing the Okanagan Valley. Farmers such as the Aberdeen family sold their goods to settlers. The Okanagan's fertile soil also brought immigrants to BC to start farming and running their own businesses which increased the population and provided more variety of foods. In 1862 Father Pandosy planted the first fruit tree in the Okanagan Valley. This launched the industry that the Okanagan is known for today. Agriculture still exists in BC today and is part of such companies as Sun-Rype who use Okanagan grown fruit.

Role of the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail in the developmant of Agiculture

The Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail was originally used by the First Nations but was re-found by David Stuart in 1811. The trail stretched from Kamloops to Fort Okanagan and was easy to travel on foot or by horse. The Fur Brigade Trail was used to transport the first fruit trees to the Okanagan. Without this trail farmers wouldn't be able to come to the Valley and farm because it wouldn't be as accessible, and without a good traveling route there wouldn't be many settlers to sell their products to.

Early European Profile of Lord Aberdeen

Early History

When Lord Aberdeen moved to the Okanagan with his family he planted apple, cherry and pear trees, along with hops to provide the family with enough money until the fruit trees started producing fruit. He damed two lakes to irrigate his orchards which marked the beginnings of the construction of the Grey Canal and the Vernon Irrigation District. They encouraged many Europeans to move to the Okanagan and settle on their Coldstream Ranch in the sub-divided land they sectioned off. To earn extra money Lord Aberdeen also constructed a jam factory and butcher shop. These new additions created a small community for the settlers to live comfortably in.

Reasons for Settlement in the Okanagan Valley

Lord and Lady Aberdeen went on a tour around the world but once they came to Canada they fell in love with it. They thought the Okanagan would be a great place for raising families and saw great potential in the land. At this time the Valley was just being used for raising cattle which required a lot of space. They knew this fertile land should be used for greater things. They decided the climate, lake and altitude of the Okanagan was just what was needed for a successful orchard business. The plan was to purchase land they could sub-divide for settlers to encourage the growing community.

Early Accomplishments

Lord Aberdeen was the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland in 1886 and again in 1905-1915. Lord and Lady Aberdeen worked very hard to improve conditions for the poor. They created an "Irish Village" at the Chicago World's Fair to promote interest and sales of the Irish lace cottage industry. This event supported countless poor families in Ireland. Lord Aberdeen was also appointed Governor General of Canada from 1893-1898. During this time he traveled throughout the country to talk to Canadians, turning the role of Governor General into a symbol representing all Canadians citizens no matter their race or beliefs.

Accomplishments in the Okanagan Valley

Lord Aberdeen purchased the Coldstream Ranch. This ranch encompassed 200 acres located in Vernon and still exists today. He also bought the Guisachan Ranch in Kelowna, originally called McDougal Ranch, which was 13 000 acres. He purchased both of these ranches in the 1890's and in 1892 planted 25 000 fruit trees. This marked the beginning of commercial fruit growing in the Vernon area.

Legacy Today

The Aberdeen's Ranch on Coldstream still exists today as well as the Guicachan Ranch that is now a heritage village and restaurant. Lord Aberdeen Motel and Apartments was built on Silverstar Mountain. Silverstar Mountain Resort has a very heritage feel so by choosing the Aberdeen name the heritage feeling is maintained. Aberdeen Hall Preparatory school is named after Lord Aberdeen because the Aberdeens represent many of the values that the school strives for, such as social and civil responsibility, innovation, and desire to improve the well being of all citizens.

Interesting Facts

  • Lord Aberdeen was an enthusiastic supporter of outdoor sport in Canada.
  • He was made honorary chief of the Six Nations and Blackfoot people.
  • Lord and Lady Aberdeen had five children but one died as a baby.
  • Half the land in Kelowna remains agricultural.

Driving Question

How did the early Europeans impact the growth and development of the Okanagan Valley

The impact Lord Aberdeen had on the growth and development of the Okanagan Valley was huge. He encouraged settlement and immigration to the valley. He launched the successful business of growing fruit that we still have today and was the first to sell his fruit commercially. If he hadn't seen all this potential in the Okanagan Valley our land would have probably only been used for cattle ranching and would not be the great developed city it has grown to be today.


Map of original area

This map displays The Aberdeen's two ranches in the Okanagan.
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Map of today

This map shows the Aberdeen's Coldstream Ranch out in Vernon that was 13 000 acres.
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This Map depicts the Aberdeen's Guisachan Ranch in Kelowna that was 200 acres.
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Image of early family or person studied

This is a picture of Lord and Lady Aberdeen and their four children and dog in 1894.
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