by Katie Lacey
With the opening of the Osoyoos Museum on June 15, 1963, tribute was paid to Osoyoos' historic past. Incorporated into the new structure is half of the original Provincial Government building, generously donated to the Osoyoos Museum Society by Mr. And Mrs. J. Handberg of Osoyoos.
This building, built entirely of hand-hewn logs, which had been cut above Fairview and hauled to the river, where the building was framed. The logs were then marked, dismantled, made into a raft and rafted down the river and lake to a point opposite the present school. The logs were then hauled up the hill and the building erected. According to information from the late Babe Kruger, D.A. Carmichael and "Whispering" Joe McLellan had the contract to erect his building.
Wm McMynn was commissioned by C.A.R. Lambly, Government Agent, to move the records, supplies etc., from the Camp McKinney office to Osoyoos by pack horse as there were no roads at that time. While fording the Narrows at Osoyoos, McMynn's horse hit him in the forehead. He fell over, unconscious into the water and never recovered. C.B. Greens kept house for Mr. Lambly until his marriage to Hester Haynes, now Mrs. R.B. White of Penticton and it was to this log building that Mrs. Lambly came as a bride in 1897 and here a year later their son Wilfred Lambly was born. The building served as Government office, magistrate's office, two jail cells, constable's quarters and living quarters for the Agent. The government office was moved to Fairview in 1899. After that the log building served as school, for church service for the various denominations, scout hall and dwelling.
In 1961 it was moved to its present location, next to the Municipal building and under the winter works programme of 1962-63, the present building was erected at a total cost of the taxpayer of $4,237.00. Built of laminated 2x4s, with steel posts so that a second storey can be added.
At present the library has half the building which has a total floor area of 1,500 sq. ft. The log building is incorporated into the new structure, thus giving the effect of a museum within a museum, and contains pioneer articles and pictures.
A fine collection of local insects have been gathered and mounted by F. Goertz; a collection of drawings by the children of the Inkameep Reserve school, under Anthony Walsh, the Long collection of Indian artifacts.
(From the 27th Report of the Okanagan HIstorical Society, 1963, p. 116)
The library packed up its books and parted company with the museum in 1971, allowing the museum to occupy the entire building. However, due to the munificent donations of the villagers, the collection continued to expand and soon the Society was forced to decline offered items.
A remedy for this problem came in 1975, when the Osoyoos Museum was moved to the old curling rink – a spacious Quonset, built in 1953-54, that was not equipped with heating nor air-conditioning. The problems with the building were compensated for by the vast amount of space.
These two photos by Roy Butler (in the Osoyoos Museum Archives) show the curling rink's construction. An issue of the Osoyoos Times described the Curling Rink, its Club, and the people who built it.
The Osoyoos Museum still resides in the old curling rink, although but a change is in the works - soon, it will be moving to a new, Main Street location.
But even now, the museum is proud to say that it has one of the best small-town collections in British Columbia. Exhibits range from natural history to First Nations to Okanagan pioneer life.
The log building (mentioned in Katie Lacey's article) is prominently displayed in the Quonset. A Victorian parlour is dedicated to the founding pioneer families of Osoyoos. The museum also has a military collection that touches on all of the major wars of the 20th century. The archives are a repository of early photographs and documents of the area.
There is truly something to interest everyone at the Osoyoos Museum.
1955: A small group of people began to meet, to officially establish the Osoyoos Museum and Historical Society.
1963: The Museum opens and moves into original Provincial Government Building.
A Humble Beginning
It was in 1955 that a small group of people met and officially established the Osoyoos Museum and Historical Society. It appears that these individuals had amassed a collection of donated articles from the past and wished for these to be incorporated into a proper museum.
Interest in the project was low until the Centennial Celebrations of 1958, which invoked in the public a significant curiosity about the history of the area. However, this newfound enthusiasm soon began to dwindle, and progress remained relatively slow.
The cause was resuscitated by the timely discovery of an old dugout canoe, which was thought at the time to be the very canoe that carried the body of early settler Judge Haynes from Princeton in Osoyoos after his death. This proved to be untrue, yet the interest in the museum had been given new life, and this time it endured.
June 15 of 1963 found the Osoyoos Museum officially opening its doors for the first time. The initial museum shared a building with the library, and incorporated into the structure was half of a hand-hewn log cabin with a long history.