We know there’s many sides to history – and in Peachland, it’s mostly contained within the eight walls of our unique historical museum downtown. Built as a Baptist church, it’s been here since 1910, and for locals, it should come as no surprise that it was built mainly by volunteers. Today, the Peachland Museum is home to our town’s early stories, artifacts and photos. It’s also where you’ll find one of the most detailed model train settings (depicting life along the Kettle Valley Railway from Nelson to Hope BC in the mid 50s to 1960s).
From September to June, the museum hours are 1 – 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. During the summer the museum is open seven days a week! Here’s their website for more info.
What’s new at the museum?
As first reported here, the Peachland Museum is eligible for a significant grant that would go a long way in making some needed fixes and improvements to the building. If the application is successful, The Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure program grant would provide up to $100,000 for renovations. Stay tuned for news on how that goes..
Did you know the fourth edition of The Story of Peachland is out? You can get your copy at the Peachland Museum – and it’s also handed out to every Grade 5 graduate at Peachland Elementary. Whether you’ve lived here forever or are a newer resident, it’s a great read.
What’s in a name?
If you’re a Peachlander, whose street are you on? Every one of our 129 or so streets is named after someone significant to our town’s history. There’s a small committee of people here who work with the District, and one by one, they’ve determined the history behind each name and put a sign marking the spot. Thanks to Don Wigfield, who lent me his information. He’s also the author of – you guessed it – The Roads of Peachland: the Historical Origin of their Names. It was released in 2011, and Don tells me this is the year he’s going to work on an updated edition. There will be more roads, and also some that are now different, as more research unfolds. Can’t wait to see it!
In the meantime, I’ll add to the list below, using Don’s work:
Brandon Lane: Best known as the address of the Peachland Little Schoolhouse (seen on the cover of The Story of Peachland book), Brandon lane is tucked between 4st and 5st downtown. The name is a nod to the hometown of Peachland’s founder, John Moore Robinson. He was from Brandon Manitoba, where he served as editor of the Brandon Times. Many early settlers came to Peachland from Brandon. It’s interesting to note that although Brandon Lane must have existed very early in our town’s history (the schoolhouse was built in 1898), it appears the name Brandon wasn’t used until much later on.
Ellison Avenue: Up Princeton, the last right-hand turn before Turner Ave. Ellison Ave extends all the way to Minto St.
Ellison is one of J.M. Robinson’s 14 original roads named on Peachland’s 1902 survey map. Price (not Prince, but I keep reading it that way!) Ellison arrived in the Vernon area back in 1876, by way of Cheshire, England. He was a farmer, orchardist and rancher and represented the Okanagan as a member of the Legislative Assembly. He eventually served in a couple of cabinet positions, and his biggest accomplishment stemmed from his experience in agriculture – he was a huge supporter of subsidizing irrigation infrastructure for the Okanagan Valley, essential at the time because fruit orchards were springing up all over the valley, including in Peachland. Price Ellison lived until 1932 and passed away in Vernon.
Minto Street is another of Peachland’s 14 original roads. It’s a windy one that starts at Somerset and ends up at Victoria St. The Earl of Minto served as Canada’s Governor General between 1898 and 1904, and would be one of the prominent people from the ‘outside’ world that J.M. Robinson chose for a street name. It’s interesting to note that on the original 1902 Peachland map, Minto Street is much shorter, linking Turner Ave with Ellison. The steeper part down to Somerset was built later.
Bonnie Lane is a small street, just off Princeton right before Whinton Cres (near Turner Ave). The MacKinnon family – whose roots in Peachland go back to 1907 – owned an orchard , and when the property was subdivided, a road was created in 1968 and it was named in honour of Archie and Madeline MacKinnon’s only daughter, Bonnie Mae. She was a teenager at the time, and to date, the youngest Peachlander with a street named in their honour. Sadly, Bonnie Mae passed away ten years ago, at the young age of 56. She was an accomplished horsewoman and rancher, and I’ll need to double check, but I’m wondering whether the family name lives on elsewhere in Peachland: MacKinnon Rd is located in the Trepanier area, just below the Connector.
Lipsett Avenue: Its the second left as you drive up Princeton and extends all the way to Bulyea Ave & Topham Pl (ahh more names!)
Lipsett Avenue is another one of Peachland’s 14 original roads that appear on the 1902 survey map signed by John Moore Robinson, our town’s founder. Robert C. Lipsett was a surgeon, a veterinarian and an officer in JM Robinson’s Canadian and American Gold Mining Company. In fact, the two men were brothers in-law, as Robinson was married to Robert Lipsett’s sister, Eliza Catherine Lipsett. According to online records, she was born in Ontario in 1858 to a pioneer family who eventually made their way from the US to Manitoba. In Brandon, she and JM Robinson married before heading to the Okanagan in 1898. Robert Lipsett moved from Peachland to Summerland around 1906.
Turner Avenue: It’s the street best known for its park and extends from Princeton to Victoria / Minto. John Herbert Turner was BC’s tenth Premier, serving from 1895 to 1898. He was a career politician – in the years before Peachland was officially founded, he served as an alderman and Mayor of Victoria, before moving up to provincial politics. He was Minister of Finance under three successive premiers, before becoming the Premier himself. He left provincial politics in 1901 and returned home to England, where he held another political position (Agent General for BC) before retiring in 1918.
So what does John Herbert Turner have to do with Peachland? His pro-business policies were likely admired by JM Robinson, Peachland’s founder (who was a keen businessman himself). Turner Ave is one of Robinson’s original street names that recognize prominent people of the time, in the ‘outside’ world.
Arthur Street: It’s a small side street off Lakeview Ave, which is the very first right-hand
turn going up Princeton. This is another JM Robinson – named Peachland road: The Rev. Arthur T. Robinson was JM’s younger brother. He came to Peachland when it was first founded, conducting the first religious services here before leaving in 1900 for Regina and Nova Scotia. He married Ada Murcutt nine years later, and together they travelled the continent sharing their religious beliefs. Ada died in 1926 and afterwards he moved to Summerland, where he became an orchard owner. He passed away 15 years after his wife, and is buried in the Peach Orchard Cemetery. According to research done by local volunteers, at one time, Arthur Street actually linked up to Beach Avenue.
A couple interesting things I noticed about JM Robinson:
According to my copy of The Story of Peachland (available at the museum downtown), JM Robinson had a vision for a town that was based on fruit orchards, not gold mining. He organized land here into ten chunks, built it out and called it Peachland. This would have been in 1898. Just a few years later, in 1902, Robinson sold all his lots here and moved on to found two more towns – Summerland and Naramata. He built a home and lived there until his death in 1934. His wife, Eliza Catherine Lipsett, according to online records, passed away in Naramata in 1936.
Law Street: Just past the Peachland Riding Club (which is up Princeton, across from the public works yard), you’ll find Law St. The Law family was among Peachland’s earliest settlers. According to The Roads of Peachland: The Historical Origins of their Names, Roscoe E. Law came here in 1901 and acquired land in the Upper Trepanier area. He was from Qu’Appelle (Saskatchewan), and his wife Eva joined him in 1902. Sadly, Eva died in 1913 of pneumonia, leaving behind four children between the ages of three and 11. Of their four children, a daughter, Ivy was born in Peachland. She married a Bradbury (another street name I’ll get to), and when she passed away in 1998, she was the longest living Peachlander, at 91 years old.
As early settlers in the Trepanier area, the Law family, along with the Coldham family and the Morsh family build a dam at a lake above them to store water for irrigation purposes. Lacoma is the name of that lake, which still exists today.
Another sad fact about the Law family: Eva Law’s eldest sister Josie, and her family were the Needhams and they also lived in Peachland. Two of Josie’s sons went off to fight in the First World War, and they did not return home. Their names – Pte. Charles Needham and Pte. George Needham, are inscribed on our town’s cenotaph.
Thompson Drive: Also up Princeton way is Thompson Drive, which is the first right-hand turn off Forest Hill Drive. There’s a sweet potato connection here, oddly enough – I’ll get to it. Henry Huggard Thompson was a Peachland town councillor in 1930. But before then, he was a young Irishman on his way to Canada by ship. On that ship, he met a young woman, who he later married and together, they moved to Alberta. In 1910 they arrived in Peachland and had three children. But their middle son, Buzzy died in a house fire at their Trepanier Bench home. The family moved elsewhere in Peachland, but Henry, an avid gardener, wanted to keep trying new varieties of vegetables, because he liked the soil conditions in the Trepanier area. According to another book on Peachland history, Peachland Memories, Henry Huggard Thompson was the first person in Canada to try growing sweet potatoes. It earned him a nickname here in town – Sweet Potato Thompson.
Meldrum Place: Where Victoria St. And Turner Ave come together, is a small street called Meldrum Place. It’s named after George Meldrum. He didn’t come to Peachland after he retired in 1963, but his family were among the Okanagan’s earliest pioneers. Born in Armstrong in 1903, George spent his career on the railway, spending time as an engineer on the Kettle Valley and Coquihalla routes. From 1968 to 1973 he was a Peachland councillor – he and his wife Mary were very involved in the community. He passed away in 1979.
Bradbury St: It’s no surprise that Bradbury St – named for the Bradbury family who came to Peachland in 1919 – is located near Law St. As mentioned earlier, Ivy Law grew up to marry into the Bradbury family. She was a major contributor to the preservation of Peachland’s early history. But before she was even in the picture, William Thomas Bradbury, his wife Eliza and five children (ranging in age from nine to 14), arrived from England. It wasn’t a simple journey – William had actually arrived in Canada years before his wife and children. But when the First World War broke out, he found the only way to get back to England was to join the Canadian Army. He ended up serving in France until the end of the war, survived, and finally brought his family to Vancouver. They ended up in Peachland to find work in the orchards. That first summer, the entire family slept in a tent, but they eventually bought some land and worked towards a prosperous orchard and dairy business.
As the children grew, so did the branches of the Bradbury family tree – William and Eliza’s second son (also named William) married Birdie Mitchell in 1936. Their five children all grew up in Peachland, with the eldest marrying Jock MacKinnon (another road I’ll get to!)
According to Don Wigfield’s 2011 book, The Roads of Peachland: The Historical Origins of their Names, it was William and Eliza’s youngest child, Edgar, who acquired the land where Bradbury St. is located today. Edgar married Ivy Law in 1933 and they had three children. He served in the Second World War, and when he came home, his health wasn’t the same. The land was purchased the year after the war, in 1946. As mentioned before, when Ivy (Law) Bradbury passed away in 1998, she was the longest-living Peachlander, having been here since her birth in 1907.