A black-and-white photo of a group of men. Four are standing in the back and five are seated in the front.
A group photo of some of the Okanagan’s “founding fathers” in 1890. Moses Lumby is located in the back row, second from left. Also pictured are (back, left to right) Cornelius O’Keefe, Luc Girouard, James Charles Crozier and (front, left to right) Edward Tronson, Bernard Lequime, Frederick Brent, Isadore Boucherie and Thomas Ellis.

A Lasting Legacy

You may never have heard of him, but in spite of his humble presence in talks of Vernon’s non-Indigenous pioneers, Moses Lumby left an impact on the valley that can still be seen today.

Moses Lumby was born in Nottinghamshire, England, to Ann and Frederick Lumby on Dec. 30, 1840. He came to Canada around 1861 or 1862, attracted to the area, like many others, by reports of gold being discovered. He first went up the Stikine River with a group of prospectors, but did not make the fortune for which he had been hoping.

A black-and-white photo of a man standing  in a room. He has an ornate cane and a hand in one hand. He is wearing a suit and pocket watch.
Formal portrait of Moses Lumby, circa 1890. GVMA #019.

Agriculture and transportation

By 1869, Lumby and some friends were operating a ranch in the Spallumcheen Valley, the Traditional and Ancestral Territories of the Syilx and Secwepemc Peoples. He had been drawn to the area by an old acquaintance of his, A.L. Fortune, who was the region’s first non-Indigenous settler. The ranch thrived, and in one particular year, Lumby reportedly sold 90 tons of fall wheat, 250 tons of spring wheat, and 20 tons of oats to a single company, Columbia Mills.

By the 1880s, the settler-colonial population of the Spallumcheen Valley had grown significantly, and it was time for an update in transportation. Lumby played an instrumental role in the formation of the Shuswap & Okanagan Railway Co., and spent years petitioning the provincial government to extend a railway line into the Okanagan Valley. Finally, in 1892, a spur line of the C.P.R. was completed between Sicamous and Vernon’s Okanagan Landing.

Politics and Law

In addition to his work in agriculture and transportation, Lumby contributed to local politics and law. In 1877, he was made a Justice of the Peace, and in 1892 became the Government Agent for the district. Later that same year, he chaired the meeting that brought about the incorporation of the City of Vernon.

In September of 1893, Lumby developed a cold that lingered for months. He traveled to Victoria for treatment, where it was discovered that he was suffering from typhoid fever. Sadly, he never recovered and passed away on Oct. 22, at the age of 52.

After his death, the Vernon News wrote that “since he became a resident of the place no man has been more interested in its welfare or has been more unselfish in his efforts to advance its interests.” It was in honour of this legacy that, shortly before his death, in August of 1892, the town of White Valley changed its name to Lumby.

 

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts

This blog post was researched and written by Alice Howitt, museum ambassador. Well done, Alice!

 

 

 

Legendary Lake creature from the depths

 

October 23. 2020

With Halloween just around the corner, it is officially the season of the unsettling, the surreal, the supernatural.

From the Scottish Highlands, to the northern forests of Nova Scotia, to the Slavic countryside, nearly every country has its own mythical monster whose tales frighten children and whose existence causes debate among even the most skeptical of adults.

The Okanagan’s resident “monster” is now most widely known as the Ogopogo, and year after year a new story of this slippery serpent emerges.

Legends of a lake creature named N’ha-a-itk had existed for generations among the Okanagan Syilx People. It was settlers who gave it a new name – and its infamy.

In August of 1926, while at a Rotary lunch held on the shores of Okanagan Lake, W. H. Brimblecombe broke out in song with a popular British Music Hall hit. He sang, “I’m looking for the Ogopogo, the bunny-hugging Ogopogo. His mother was an earwig, his father was a whale. I’m going to put a little bit of salt on his tail. I’m looking for the Ogopogo.”

By the time of this club luncheon, stories of a mysterious creature living in the depths of Okanagan Lake were already popular amongst settlers. But after this delightful lunchtime performance in 1926, the Okanagan’s resident monster would come to be known as the Ogopogo.

Along with a new name, settlers also gave the sea creature a new “image”, ranging from cute and comical, to monstrous and terrifying.

The first “modern” sighting of the Ogopogo occurred in 1873, when a woman named Susan Allison reported seeing a snake-like creature moving through the water near her home in West Kelowna. 

 

From a 1946 Christmas card (how festive!)

 

In 1926 Joseph Egbert Montague started his shipping company in Vernon, BC, under the name J.E. Montague Ltd. The company expanded in 1928 and became known as British Columbia Fruit Shippers. By that time, the moniker “Ogopogo” would have been in use.

 

A few years later, during the 1880s, the infamous Captain Shorts discovered a large vertebrae bone in the shallows of Okanagan Lake, which would be determined to be from a whale. How a whale bone came to lie in Okanagan Lake remains a mystery. Could it perhaps be a bone belonging to Ogopogo’s whale father?

While fishing one morning in August of 1925, a man named J. Mitchell Boyd allegedly saw a strange creature with the head of a sheep moving languidly through the water (this is apparently quite the trustworthy account; as reported in the Vernon News a few days after the sighting, “Mr. Boyd stated, for the benefit of those who may have doubted his statement, that he had not partaken of cheese the night before, nor anything else which might have caused an optical delusion”). Nearly thirty years later, in 1959, the Miller and Marten Families also described a close encounter with a large, snake-like creature while out for a day of boating.

In 1978, while driving across the Okanagan Lake Floating Bridge, Bill Steciuk and twenty other onlookers witnessed a dark head and three black humps protruding out of the water. The year 2000 would bring about another sighting, when marathon swimmer Daryl Ellis was accompanied by two large creatures during his swim passed Rattlesnake Point (perhaps Nessie was down for a visit?)

In 2004, John Casorso recorded the first alleged video of Ogopogo; from a vantage point on his family’s house point, Casorso was able to capture grainy footage of a dark creature, about 15 metres long, emerging from the still waters of Okanagan Lake. And less than two weeks ago, a Calgary resident celebrating Thanksgiving in the Okanagan recorded a video of a strange formation of waves that some viewers thought could have been another sighting of the Okanagan’s most elusive resident.

Whether you believe in the sea serpent or not, one thing is for certain; the Ogopogo is a lot of fun to talk about.

Gwyn Evans