Some Osoyoos History:
The Aboriginal People roamed the Okanagan Valley for centuries.
They stopped at Spotted Lake above Osoyoos, for physical and spiritual healing. They made Osoyoos a favorite meeting place, and they named our town "Sooyoos" a Native Okanagan word meaning the narrows of the lake or the place where 2 lakes come together. Osoyoos, a version of that word, is pronounced: O-sue-use.
The fur traders began arriving in the early 1800's. David Stuart and a French companion Montigny are credited with being the first white men to enter the Osoyoos district. They were employed by the Pacific Fur Company and came looking for a better trade route through the Interior of British Columbia to Fort Kamloops.
In 1861 the Colonial Government established the first Customs House at the head of Osoyoos Lake. Trails down both sides of the lake led to Kamloops and the Cariboo Country and the famous Dewdney Trail from Hope to the Kootenays crossed the narrows.
The first bridge across the 'narrows' was built in the mid 1860's. Not
more than 5 feet wide, the bridge was constructed of split rails loosely
in place, to be easily removed during high water. Travelers walked the
stringers. The horses and cattle had to swim.
Farming and Orcharding began following World War I. A government sponsored Soldier's Settlement program was initiated and offered veterans assistance in developing 10 acre units of land. By 1927, a government irrigation system was in place, and the desert hillsides around Osoyoos bloomed. It was soon apparent that this was a perfect spot to grow ground crops and develop orchards. Orchard farming became a general practice, and today we're proudly producing the earliest fruit in Canada.
In 1946, Osoyoos was incorporated as a Village and the railway arrived.
Rail service was discontinued a number of years ago, but the Village has
grown to be a Town. The only reminder of the railway is the old train
station, now the Club House at the Osoyoos Sailing Club.
In the early 1950's, immigrants from Portugal settled in the South Okanagan. Over the years they proved themselves expert orchardists, proudly making their mark as successful growers of fruit and vegetables and vital members in the community. In recent years, more land has been cleared to make way for vineyards, and the orchards are being redeveloped by an enthusiastic Indo-Canadian Community.
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