Hullcar and Deep Creek
Community Hall Society

I. The First Settlers

It was not until after the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1870s, joining British Columbia to the young Canadian Confederation, that Europeans first came to Hullcar in the North Okanagan. The Okanagan Valley is geographically isolated bracketed between the towering Rockies on one side and the rainy Cascades on the other, making a formidable obstacle to early settlement. The first Westerners with the fortitude to hike into this back country were fur traders, gold prospectors, a few pioneering cattle ranchers, and the legendary missionary Father John Pandosy, who established the region’s first permanent settlement at a spot that would later become the city of Kelowna. Where it not for the efforts of Pandosy administered medical care to the first settlers, provided moral and spiritual support, and taught survival techniques pioneered by the local First Nations', many more would have perished in the Okanagan Valley's surprisingly harsh winters. It quickly became apparent that the region was equally rich in mineral wealth and stunning beauty and had the potential to prosper. A rutted track from Vernon completed in the late 1870s allowed the first real influx of white settlers to the Okanagan, mostly American cattle ranchers driven north by that decade's Long Depression.

The new road brought in Hullcar's first resident, Donald Matheson, who arrived on the virgin lands in the Summer of 1878. Hullcar, which took its name from the Shuswap Indian word for "Big Rock" ("Hurrarah"), had fertile soils and with hard work, Matheson thought, could become a "Garden of Eden". For the next decade settlers began to trickle in, mostly to establish massive cattle ranches. But the pace of immigration was slow: by 1890 there were only 400 settlers in the entire Okanagan Valley, vastly outnumbered by their 20,000-plus cattle. Of these only a small fraction were in Hullcar and the surrounding locales in the North of the Valley.

In the early 1890s two radical changes caused an acceleration in the pace of immigration to Hullcar and the wider Okanagan Valley region. First the C.P.R. extended a railhead that ran south to Okanagan Landing from the recently completed Canadian Pacific Railway. The railway ran a few kilometres from Hullcar, and the towns of Armstrong and Enderby quickly popped up along the route. Settlers from all over the British Empire and the United States began pouring into the Okanagan Valley by train and staked land claims . They were attracted by the new opportunities promised by the second change in the region, started by the English aristocrat Lord Aberdeen. He had hit on the idea of growing fruit orchards in the Okanagan Valley's semi-arid Summer climate. In 1891 he got the ball rolling by buying a 4,000 hectare ranch from the Vernon Brothers and sowing it with trees that bore a range of fruits: apples, peaches, apricots, and cherries. These very first crops were successful and soon companies were formed to buy up land all over the area, including Hullcar, seeking to profit from one of the first speculatory bubbles in the province's history.


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