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The Rainbow Ranche Collection

The Rainbow Ranche Collection was donated to the Lake Country Museum and Archives in 2013 by Roger MacDonnell, a grandson of the Ranche Manager, James Goldie. We are fortunate in having these records, preserved by James Goldie’s daughter, Nancy Goldie.

Rainbow Ranche records
Rainbow Ranche record book1

The record of correspondence begins with a 1908 farm diary kept by Frank Hewer, early owner and Ranche Manager. In 1909, Frank Hewer sold his share to James Goldie, and for almost forty years, the Ranche was owned and operated by three men: J. E. McAllister in Toronto, Robert Stanhope Dormer in England, and James Goldie, owner and Manager. J.E. McAllister, as majority share holder, insisted on full reports, and was actively involved in operations, so correspondence and reports were frequent, including all aspects of the business. James Goldie was an excellent record keeper who maintained files of both incoming and outgoing correspondence.

The first years detail irrigation agreements, as the orchards, and the whole area, moved from dry land farming to irrigated orchard lands. The ledgers detail the first plantings and orchard operations and continue over twenty-seven years. The Rainbow’s orchards and packinghouse employed a crew of Japanese orchardists under a Japanese foreman and a crew of mostly English immigrants under an English foreman. The two crews worked side by side and many of the workers lived in bunkhouses at the Rainbow. The correspondence also provides insight into work and life in the Okanagan in the early 1900s.

The Rainbow was an important employer in the area for both year round and seasonal workers, with many of the local women working in the packing house, grading and sorting. The apples were then packed and sent by boat to Vernon for sale and distribution. James Goldie sat on the Board of the Vernon Fruit Union for many years, and was also chair of the Winfield and Okanagan Centre Irrigation District. The Minutes and correspondence of these bodies were also preserved.

Rainbow Ranche correspondence
Letter from James Goldie to John Dormer2

After the second world war, the decision was made to sell the Ranche, and the records end with details of the subdivision and sale of the property into smaller orchards and holdings. James Goldie and his wife continued to occupy the original Rainbow Ranche farm house until their deaths.

In the summer of 2017, Lake Country Museum and Archives received two grants, allowing us to cooperate with the University of British Columbia (UBC) in digitizing and making many of the records available through UBC’s Open Collections. While not all of the journals and records were digitized, the majority will be available online. See  Rainbow Ranche Collection – UBC Library Open Collections

1 Goldie, J. (1952, July 30). Binder of Documents by [James Goldie], December 31, 1951- July 30, 1952 [B]. doi:

2 Goldie, J. (1927, October 27). Letter from James Goldie to [R.S.] Dormer, October 27, 1927 [C]. doi:

Rights: Images provided for research and reference use only. Permission to publish, copy, or otherwise use these images must be obtained from The Lake Country Museum and Archives:

1 Comment

  • Fascinating. I have just been reading a letter that my grandfather, Gerald Leslie Baily, wrote in 1910 to his parents in the UK. GLB worked at the ranch(e) in and around 1910. He was a ‘remittance man’ (why, no one knows) who arrived in Canada we believe in 1906, worked on the ranch, speaks well of the Dormers. In 1916 he joined the the North West Mounted Rifles and went off to the war. He never returned to Canada, ‘though he spoke of BC and Canada with great pleasure. Enough pleasure, that I now live in Ontario. Alas, have not yet visited the Okanagen Valley. Someday.

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