Skip to main content

The Rea family of Oyama

I recently came across an unidentified photograph in my files, likely of an Oyama family. The only clue was five parts of names on the back left margin of the photo, indistinct and in pencil. The names appear to be Dorothy, ?alter, ?ura, ?lice, and ?on. I checked the 1921 Canada Census for an Oyama family with that name composition and found the Rea family, whose members in 1921 were Walter (father), Alice (mother) and children – Otto Ashton, age 19, Dorothy, age 15, and Laura, age 12. Two more Rea children were born after arrival in Oyama – Gertrude in 1914 and Robert in 1918.

The Rea family had arrived in Oyama in 1914, seven years before the 1921 census was taken. The children would have been 13, 11, and 6 years of age, about the age that they appear to be in this photo. It seems that this photo was taken just before or after arrival in Oyama.

The Reas are reasonably important in Oyama’s development. Walter was a blacksmith at a time when that was a critical function in a farming community. He later operated the Oyama Garage and Alice ran the adjoining store for a short while. Walter died in Vernon in 1949 and Alice passed in Kelowna in 1957.

The Rea children dispersed. Otto married, moved to the USA in 1929, and worked as a “longshoreman’s mechanic” in Portland, Oregon. In 1925, Dorothy (Alice) married Gordon Pattullo of Oyama, a WW1 veteran. Gordon was a mechanic and the couple lived for years in Revelstoke but returned to the area after retirement. Laura married Andrew Spencer who raised their children, Elspeth and Dianne, in Oyama. Gertrude married Jim Gibb in 1936. The couple resided in Oyama, operating the Kalwood Inn for a time and then they moved to Kelowna. Following his WW2 service, Robert returned home but then moved in about 1950.  Before his death in 1960 he worked as a bulldozer operator in Chase, BC.

I attended Oyama Elementary School with Dianne Spencer and Roberta Rea.

Duane Thomson


Leave a Reply