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Life in the Okanagan through the eyes of the Gibbons Family

The second Monday of February is Family Day in British Columbia. It is a time to celebrate family members and remind ourselves of those who preceded us.

The Gibbons Family GenealogyMuseums and archives are wonderful repositories for family histories. Here one can find photographs and histories that document family life in our community.

In 2005, Katie Gibbons, daughter of Museum volunteers Karen and Glen Gibbons, documented her family history: “The Gibbons Family. Genealogy and Life in the Okanagan. This manuscript is available in the Museum as well as online on this website.

She begins her story thus:

“James and Lila Gibbons were living with their twelve children in Brandon, Manitoba, in the 1920s. Life during the twenties was rough, and the family had very little income. They owned a huge dairy farm which shipped milk to the local dairy company. Trying to support all the children was getting difficult, so as some were already young adults, James and Lila instructed them to find work.

Lila and James GibbonsBud, the fifth child in the family, was the first to make his way out to British Columbia. He came in 1927 and found work at the Rainbow Ranche in Okanagan Centre. Since work was going well, Bud sent for another brother to come and help him make some money.

Back home, Harry, 21, and Clare, 19, were the next in line to go. Neither brother wanted to leave their home and family, so they decided to flip a coin to see who would go. Clare lost the coin toss and therefore was on his way to the Okanagan Valley. He came to Okanagan Centre from Brandon, Manitoba in 1929. Clare was also hired to work at the Rainbow Ranche by James Goldie.

Goldie treated the workers well, and Clare always felt like he was treated like a son. Clare even lived at the Goldie property on the lakeshore when he first arrived in Okanagan Centre. He stayed there with one other man and they lived year round in a tent with wooden walls. The tent had no water, electricity, or plumbing, but Clare didn’t complain.”1

Have you taken the time to record your family history? If not, think about doing so. The time to begin is now. 

1 Gibbons, Katie. “The Gibbons Family. Genealogy and Life in the Okanagan”. Lake Country Heritage and Cultural Society. Challenge Project 2005.

1 Comment

  • Very interesting for the Thomson family too as Harry Gibbons married Orma Thomson (my Dad’s sister). Harry and Orma actually had 5 children – they had a daughter Audrey. Audrey was killed in a car accident in the late 60’s, possibly early 70’s. Tragic, as she was a lovely young woman.

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