Missionaries in the Okanagan

By Cody Schiavon Block F

Development of Missionaries in Early Okanagan History

Origins and Dates

After the last of the fur brigades passed through the Okanagan in 1847, the Catholic Church needed a presence in the new land. They couldn't find anyone in England, so they appealed to to France and appointed to Charles John Felix Adolph Pandosy. He left Marseilles, France and arrived in Fort Walla Walla, in present-day Washington, in 1847. He left there and traveled through what is now Okanagan Mountain Park and arrived at Duck Lake in 1859. After a winter spent in a wet swamp in unusually cold and snowy conditions, they moved their site to what is now an area on Mission Creek. In just 2 years of being there, they baptized 121 people. Father Pierre Richard arrived soon after Father Pandosy. After 30+ years of running the Mission, Father Pandosy died in Penticton in 1891 on a return trip from Keremeos. Father Pandosy's Mission then became the Church's interior headquarters until 1895, when the CPR went to Kamloops instead.


The Missionaries that traveled the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail were important because wherever they went, settlers, ranchers, and miners would follow because of the need for a religious faith. When people would come to check out the Valley, they would instantly fall in love with its blue lake and rolling hills, and they would want to settle here.

Role of the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail in the Development of this Category

The Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail helped Missionaries get from where they were, all the way to their destination. Take Father Pandosy for example, he traveled on the Brigade Trail all the way from Washington State, all the way to the southern part of the Okanagan Valley. As more people passed through the Okanagan, they found out that it has very nutritious soils for planting crops, which drove farmers to settle here, mineral-rich creeks and rivers, which drove miners to mine here, and rolling hills perfect for grazing, which drove cattle ranchers to set up ranches here.

Early European Profile

Father Pandosy

Early History

Father Pandosy's great life started in Marseilles, France in 1823. He became a priest at 23 years old and left Mareilles at 24 in 1847 to go to the New World.

Reasons for Settlement in Okanagan Valley

One of Father Pandosy's reasons for settling in the Okanagan was because he was asked to found a Mission in the interior of B.C. Because the Protestant Church was already well established in the New Land, the Catholic Church needed a presence in the New Land as well.

Early Accomplishments In Europe and North America

At just 23 years old, Charles Pandosy became a priest. Another one of his early accomplishments is that he converted the Yakima Indians to Catholicism in Oregon, due to his close bond with their Chief. He established 2 missions in Oregon, the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph's Mission, with St. Joseph's being destroyed in the 2 year long Cayuse War.

Accomplishments in Okanagan Valley

He established the first white settlement in the Valley, called the Okanagan Mission (Mission of Immaculate Conception). Another one of his accomplishments is that in just 2 years of being in the Okanagan, he baptized 121 people.

Legacy Today

How the Name lives on

From 1896-1902 father Eumelin ran the Mission until it closed in 1902 and was bought by the Kelowna Land and Orchard Company. In 1983 it was designated as a B.C. Heritage Site and is now 4 acres of land along Mission Creek in Kelowna. His name also lives on through Pandosy Street, which was named after Father Pandosy.

Driving Question

What was the Impact of the early Europeans 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 gave settlers access to all of their religious needs. Back in the 1800s, almost everyone believed in some sort of religion, mainly either Catholic or Protestant. With the help of the Mission of Immaculate Conception, both white settlers and Aboriginals alike were able to have access to a Catholic Church, which drove people to settle in the Kelowna area.

Interesting Facts

1) Father Pandosy convinced the Yakima Indians to stay neutral in the 2-year-long Cayuse War.

2) Father Pandosy also established many other Missions in B.C., including one on Harbledown Island in 1863. Harbledown Island is one of the eastern-most islands in the Queen Charlotte chain. Just think, he had to get all the way up there from Kelowna on foot!

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Image #1

Above is a photo of Father Pandosy in the 1800s. His full name was Charles John Felix Adolph Pandosy.
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Image #2

Shown here is a map of a portion of Lower B.C. in 1888. Father Pandosy's Mission can be seen along Mission and Mill Creek.
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Image #3

Shown above now is a map of whereabouts in Kelowna that the Father Pandosy Heritage Site is located. It is very near the Casorso family property, also very close to Mission Creek.