*Okanagan* *Explosion*

*By: Emily Jones*

*History of Miners in the Okanagan Valley*

*Origins/ Dates*

The Pacific Fur Trade Company and its offshoot the North West Company had been trading fur with the First Nations of the Okanagan for many years pioneered by their employee David Stuart around 1820. The Hudsons Bay Company (HBC) as well as buying Beaver pelts and Fur from First Nations also bought Gold, but kept the gold origin a secret. In 1825 a Scottish botanist David Douglas was travelling the area with the HBC and discovered gold within a rock sample. News of his findings of Gold in the Okanagan area did not surface until 1833 due to his employers desire to keep the gold discovery a secret. One of the earliest settlers in the Okanagan was Father Pandosy who was a Catholic Church Minister sent to North America to offset the presence of the Protestant Church who had settlements supporting the Oregan trail. Father Pandosy's mission established a Church and school on the shores of Lake Okanagan. With the news of gold, miners came to the valley and joined Father Pandosy mission to expand the settlement. People found gold in Rock Creek, Belgo Creek, Mission Creek, Bear Creek, Powers Creek and the Fraser River. The miners built small towns by the creeks and miners made claims on both side of the Okanagan.


Miners came to the Okanagan in big numbers and settled in the area. There were too many miners and not enough food for them to survive, so the town had to bring in more ranchers and farmers to grow crops and raise cattle to feed all the miners. When the miners couldn't find their fortune they stayed and in the area to set up other trades to support other miners, or turned to farming.

*Role of the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail*

The First Nations used the fur brigade trail many years before the missionaries started to use the trail. David Stuart discovered the trail in 1848 when he was employed by the North West Company (NWC) to purchase furs from the First Nations, with rights to the trail passing to the HBC when they took over the NWC. The trail was used to carry goods in and out of the Okanagan valley and when the miners moved to the area, it was the most used trail in the Valley. Miners used the trail to come arrive and leave the valley and as a passage of goods to support the industry.

*Early European Profile*

*David Douglas*

*Early History*

David Douglas was a Scottish Botanist, he collected rock samples and studied plants. He found gold in a rock when he was collecting different rock samples. The HBC kept his findings a secret because they wanted the gold for themselves and didn't want miners coming into the area. In 1833 he travelled back to England and news of his findings spread.

*Reasons For Settlement in the Okanagan Valley*

David Douglas studied rock and plants in North America as a representative of the Hudsons Bay Company. He visited the Okanagan many times but did not settle here, travelling the world to explore other rock and plant forms. The HBC kept his gold discovery a secret for many years but Douglas let news of his findings become public and started the rush of miners to the area. With Father Pandosy's mission established and the need for farmers to support the mining, the Okanagan Valley began to grow.

*Early Accomplishments in Europe or Other Places in North America*

Douglas found plants all over North and South America, species of plants, including different mosses, weeds, and seaweeds. He made many discoveries of plants including the Douglas fur. He was promoted to a Botanist. At the time there were 92000 plant species known in the world and Douglas was accredited with finding 7000 of these species and reporting them back to Britain.

*Accomplishments in Okanagan Valley*

David Douglas was one of the first to report gold located in the Okanagan valley even though the HBC had been trading gold with the First Nations for many years. He worked with the Hudson's Bay Company and through his travels most of his accomplishments in plant discovery were outside of the Okanagan Valley, yet his report of gold drove the growth of settlers to the area.

*Legacy Today*

He was the first to report findings of gold and launched the Okanagan gold rush. He also found many species of plants over 7000 species of plants with the most well known being the Douglas Fur. On one of his North American trips, Douglas climbed a 9156ft mountain alone in less than 5 hours without the aid of equipment - after the climb he named the mountain Mount Brown in tribute to a former prominent Botanist.

*Driving Question*

What was the impact of the early Europeans on the growth and development of the Okanagan Valley

*My Answer*

The impact David Douglas had on the growth and development of the Okanagan valley was that he came to the valley researching plants and rocks when he found gold. With news of gold, many people came to the valley and settled here in the hope of gold fortune. It became hard to find gold so miners went North and South and found gold in rivers near Kamloops. Miners also found gold in bear creek , rock creek, Frazer river, West side of the Okanagan lake, mission creek, deep creek, and Peachland. The Gold mining expansion and food production and farmers needed to support the industry drove the growth of the Okanagan Valley settlements.

*Interesting Facts*

- HBC wanted to keep their knowledge of gold originally traded with First Nations and later David Douglas's find a secret. This was to protect their discovery from gold miners and keep their supply of gold from First Nations valuable.

- David Douglas died at the age of 35. His gored and trampled body was found at the bottom of a cattle trap occupied by an enraged bull. Mysterious circumstances surrounding the death have given rise to speculation about whether it was an accident, murder, or suicide.