Okanagan Explosion: Agriculture

Social Studies 9 Final Task

By Faith Proteau

History of Agriculture in the Okanagan Valley

Timeline of Important Dates


The first known fruit trees in the Okanagan Valley are planted by Hiram F. Smith.


Father Pandosy plants the first large-scale apple farm.

Early 1890's

Lord Aberdeen buys the 13 000 acre Coldstream Ranch and the 480 acre McDougall Ranch, which he renamed Guisachan Ranch, after Lady Aberdeen's childhood home.


Fruit growers in the Valley first try to co-op market fruit, but promoting and transporting the fruit is too pricey for profit at the time, as the fruit is often ruined during transport.


The fruit industry flourishes after the gold rush failure.


Packing schools are set up to teach people how to work in the fruit industry.


The first permanent packing school - the Government Fruit Packing School - is set up in Kelowna.


Commercial crops become successful. Many cattle ranchers branch into fruit growing when they realize the profit to be made.


The first commercial grape crops are planted.


During a money crisis, fruit prices drop as low as only 20 cents per 35-pound box of first-grade apples. At this point, growers would rather let their fruit fall to the ground and rot than sell them for any cheaper.
The first effective irrigation system is invented.


BC Tree Fruits, a company that is still big today, starts up in the Valley.

The Importance of Agriculture in the Okanagan Valley

The Importance of Agriculture in the Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail

The Okanagan Fur Brigade trail was originally a collection of trails used by First Nations peoples in the area for decades before the first European settler came across it. After it's discovery, the trail was used for transport through the Valley and beyond. The items carried along the trail included supplies to trade with the First Nations for furs, and food, goods, and tools to be shipped to England. It was also a way to bring furs out to the market. The trail was very important to agriculture as well. It brought growers to the fertile valley, and provided a way to transport crops back to England and to other settlements for sale.

Lord Aberdeen

Reasons for Settlement in the Okanagan Valley

The Aberdeens were touring Canada, and came across the Valley. At the time, it was mostly cattle ranches. But the Aberdeens saw the growing potential in the Valley, and encouraged agriculture by planting 100 acres of apple trees at both of their ranches in the Okanagan. They built a summer home to stay in while they visited at their Guisachan Ranch.

Early Accomplishments

*Spent most of his time as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland working to improve the conditions of the poor with Lady Aberdeen

*Served as Governor General of Canada from 1893 - 1898

*Encouraged many middle and upper class English citizens to immigrate to BC

*Later returned to Ireland with Lady Aberdeen to fight the tuberculosis epidemic

Accomplishments in the Okanagan Valley

*Started some of the earliest commercial orchards in the valley

*Sold 900 acres of Coldstream Ranch to be used as 10 - 40 acre commercial orchards, in one year

What Was Lord Aberdeen's Impact on the Growth And Development of the Okanagan Valley?

Lord Aberdeen's Legacy

His Guisachan ranch was converted into a Kelowna City Park, and Guisachan house itself was restored and turned into a restaurant.


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The approximate locations and sizes of the land owned by Lord Aberdeen.
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The Okanagan Valley today, with the locations of Coldstream Ranch and Guisachan Ranch, which were owned by Lord and Lady Aberdeen back in the 1890's.

Interesting Facts

Guisachan Ranch was named after Lady Aberdeen's childhood home. The name means 'Place of the firs', but when they tried to plant firs around their summer home, the trees did not survive.
There were over 1 000 000 fruit trees growing in the Okanagan by 1900.