Skip to main content

Clara Hallam reminiscences continued, 1907 – 1909

Reminiscences of Clara Hallam (née Bailey) continued

Hallam reminiscences 2 (pp. 27-30) Some stylistic changes have been made in the text to reflect modern usage.

1907 – 1909

“… There was to be a big skating party on Duck Lake one night so brother Bill, Phoebe and I were going down with our skates over our shoulder and the old coal oil lamp in our hands. It was real cold that night we walked down about a good mile and a half, maybe two. They were skating across the bay from where we were. We had to cross over the ice and Bill was in the lead and he stepped in a hole in the ice and went down lantern and all. Of course there was some screaming there for a while but we stopped and were afraid to go any closer, but anyhow he caught himself on the ice and Perry Clark and Charlie Simpson came to the rescue with a rail to get him out. The old coal oil lantern is still there. And about that time we had a Presbyterian Minister come up to have service in the little school. His name was Rev. Grey. He used to ride up on saddle horse from Mr. and Mrs. Wood’s place at the end of Woods Lake it was then, the lower end of Kalamalka Lake now. He used to stay over there Sunday. That was the first time I attended church. I went down with Grandma Clark; she liked to go to Church. Was at Mr. and Mrs. Woods a very nice Scotch couple [Petries].

When we first settled at Wood Lake, Winfield now, there was only four houses in the whole district except the reservation. The Mrs. Wollan house and the Tom Wood house over at Woodsdale, burned down now, and the old halfway house where the road goes over the hill to the Rainbow ranch and the Postill ranch at the end of Duck Lake. I remember one day we took a picnic lunch and drove down to the Postill ranch to pick red currants as the fruit was pretty scarce in the Okanagan those days. How we did enjoy that.

There were no hospitals in Kelowna or Vernon then. We were lucky not to have very much sickness. But in order for the family to live, Dad, J. Bailey, worked at anything going, building or logging. He nearly always [did] contract logging and built roads or ditches.

Westbury Hotel
Edith Gleed by the Westbury Hotel

He worked on Casorso’s big barn, worked or built most of the houses at Okanagan Centre.

The old Westbury Hotel, it has burned down in later years, and Jim Gleed’s house and Post Office (where we used to get our mail from Kelowna).

When I used to ride down on our saddle horse, we got our mail in the Grandview Hotel.

Grandview Hotel
Grandview Hotel, 1908

Mrs. Caesar was the Post Mistress, later taken over by Mr. and Mrs. Jim Gleed at Okanagan Centre.

I will always remember how excited we were when we heard the Okanagan Centre Lands were putting in the pipeline by our house. That was the opening up of all the Country. That was about 1906 or 07. When they built the camp above our house. I think there were about 150 men working there. They lived in tents, a long tent for the cookhouse. Harry Gleed and his sister Miss Gleed, later Mrs. Rheam, being the cooks. And most of the men that worked at the camp bought land from and settled on the Okanagan Centre and surrounding district. And a lot more came from the East and from England and bought ten acre lots and planted all in Orchards and small Fruits.

Where the Okanagan Centre Land and Orchards or all the land between Winfield and Okanagan Centre that is in orchard now used to be the nicest stand of big pines and fur trees. Johnston and Carswell logged it all off in 1908 or 09. My brothers James and Bill, the Clark boys, Lidstone boys, Pete Bradshaw and Tom Johnson and several others that had settled around there helped to log it about 1909 or 10.

John McClure lived up above the Clark’s place, where the brick house is today on the road to Beaver Lake, for a while, then moved down to the Balanya Place on Dry Valley Road, that was called the Duck Lake fruit ranch later, and his children walked over the range to the Duck Lake school, about three miles. There were so many wild cattle on the range then and no fences and the school was out about the middle of the range.”


  • I am constantly amazed when reading these reminiscences from around 1900 at how “new” the settlements in the area were. Growing up in Winfield in the 1950’s I must admit everything seemed quite “established”. The orchards spread across the hills between Winfield/Woodsdale and Okanagan Centre–as well as on the East bench lands between Woodsdale and Oyama. While the population then was considerably smaller than it is today, I certainly felt a strong sense of community.
    (I, too, remember going to Duck Lake to skate in the 1950’s, as well as to a pond up on the east side of Winfield, going south from Woodsdale and climbing up toward the Beaver Lake Road. Colloquially, our gang called it “Horse Piss Pond” if I remember correctly.)
    One thing that does bother me quite often today is recognition that I really knew very little about the First Nations in our area. I remember that we had some contact with indigenous children in elementary school in Winfield (unfortunately, my main memory seems to be of a fight on the soccer field), but, t0 my chagrin, I realize now that I, along with most of my childhood friends, never thought to seek out friends among the local indigenous people. I can recall no indigenous youth in my high school, but again, that may be more of a reflection of whom I chummed with. At the same time, I suspect that very few local indigenous youth felt comfortable continuing in school in the area.
    Although I have never considered myself to be “racist” toward indigenous people, I realize now that they were invisible to me as I was growing up–and that invisibility probably had more to do with me than with them.
    Today I am convinced that Canadians who are here, as I am, as a result of immigration to this country must be much more pro-active in recognizing the truth of Canada’s treatment of its indigenous people. I feel some responsibility to be part of the reconciliation process which will, I hope, see a new relationship with the people who have lived in this country for millennia and who have been badly mistreated in so many instances by those who came over the past 400 years.

  • Hi Fred,

    You must be getting old. One of the prettiest girls in our class, Kay Stubbs, was part native. But you are right, there was not a lot of mingling in our time. I did hang out swimming with David Miller at Lakeshore Inn quite often but I could not say that we were friends. Unfortunately, most of the indigenous youth never proceeded past grade 6. I too very much enjoy reading these articles about what is now Lake Country. I remember that we bought home-made butter from the people at the “Brick House”. In addition to Duck Lake and HP pond, Grant McInnes and I often hiked over the west hill to a skate on a small pond with the girls from OK Centre. I cannot recall its name or even if it had one. I left in 1961 to join the air force yet, if anyone asks, I still fondly consider Winfield my home.

    Gary Hein

  • Hi, Gary. I remember Kay Stubbs, but not well. Remember, I lived in Woodsdale, a Winfield suburb, while you lived in the “heart of town.” As a result, I don’t think I ever got to know Kay very well.
    I share some recollection of a pond on the west hill; there was also one on the Glenmore Road that we occasionally went to to skate. I don’t think that’s the one you’re referencing, though.
    As to that “getting old” remark, I assume you’ve kept pace over the years. I maintain it’s all in how you feel, not how many years have gone by.

    • Hi you two…great to read your conversation about people from so long ago. The Stubbs family were all good looking and Kay was no exception although she was a few years older. I think she still lives on Seaton Road, married name is Escombe. I knew younger sister Janice much better, she married Wilf Quering whose family had the mill just east of the train tracks off Beaver Lake Road.
      The only pond I can think of on the OK Centre side was the old reservoir which was just west of Jack Seaton Park. Keep up the conversation…it’s always interesting.
      Rich Gibbons

  • No, it wasn’t the reservoir. It was further over the hill on the OK Centre side, perhaps a bit south and you could only get to it on foot. Someone who might remember is Eleanor Brixton, now Mrs Geen. I was sweet on Eleanor at the time and Grant was sweet on Elizabeth Land and we all skated that little pond a couple of times. But as the one way romances waned, so did the skating.

    By the way Fred, you still tickle the ivories? I recently heard from Rhett Davis and I was telling him that my brother Rolly still has two copies of the record you guys cut as the Winmen. Both songs play in my head often and I’m looking forward to picking up my copy this summer when I visit him and mom.



Leave a Reply