BEAR is one of the four food chiefs of the Okanagan People, recounted in the story "How food was given". As the oldest and wisest of the prehuman people he modelled for the other food chiefs (SPRING SALMON, BITTER-ROOT and SASKATOON) laying down his life so that the new people (humans) could eat. (Legend retold by Eric Mitchell and found on You tube in a video by Sarah Alexis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfF-XR_DxJw.
Wood burning cook stove
The kitchen stove was the centre piece of the homesteader's food production. On the stove you can see bannock or fry bread that was a staple for settlers and indigenous people in the colonial period.
But Dr. Nancy Turner, professor of Ethnobotany at The University of Victoria, says Indigenous people already had their own version made from a wild plant called camas. The camas bulb would have been baked for long periods of time, dried and then flattened or chopped and formed into cakes and loaves, similar to modern bannock. Turner suggests that unleavened breads made from the starch/flour of bracken rhizomes were probably “cooked/baked on rocks over the fire, in sand, or in cooking pits or earth ovens.” Moss, black tree lichen, ground cat tail roots and ground bracken rhizomes are all known to have been used to make a type of bread-like food.
Turner says that since the Aboriginal peoples of Canada were consuming these bread-like foods pre-contact, the Scots’ bannock was easily adopted.
Flour-based bannock became a common food among Indigenous people across the continent. Bannock keeps without spoiling for a long time and is a good source of carbohydrates, which historically was hard to come by in some regions of Canada.
CBC radio “Unreserved” 2016
The drone with a suspended camera is a nod to future food production technology.
An Oil Lamp: Artificial light
One aspect of settlement was the use of artificial light. Coal oil, a by-product of the production of coal gas and coal tar, was in use by the late 18th century. Coal oil that burned cleanly enough to be used to light homes was first produced in 1850. In the United States, coal oil was widely manufactured after the 1850s under the trade name Kerosene, a process invented by a Canadian geologist.
Hydro generated electricity gradually replaced the use of kerosene lamps even in the countryside. In British Columbia, private companies were quick to develop hydro-power. Locally, the Wilsey Dam and generating station at Shuswap Falls was constructed in 1929. The concrete dam was built at the site of the original 21-metre-high Shuswap Falls while the spillway channel was blasted through solid rock immediately to the north.
Initially, the facility was "run-of-the-river", without a storage reservoir. The Shuswap River flows powered this 4000 HP generating unit. In 1942, a second dam was constructed at the outlet of Sugar Lake to increase generating potential. This new dam allowed for another 4000 HP generating unit at Shuswap Falls, which translates to another 5.2 MW of capacity.
From 1929 to 1951, the Shuswap Falls facility provided most of the electric power for the North Okanagan region.
Recently greenhouse cultivation has extended the North Okanagan growing season. Tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet and hot peppers even eggplant have become easier to grow. With the trend towards eating locally this has meant that vegetables once only to be found shipped from California or Mexico can now be found farm gate, in farmers markets and in local food stores.
The baskets remind us that we can reduce our use of plastic and shop locally in farmers markets, or at the farm gate.
Vineyards and wineries are now a common sight in central and south Okanagan.
Bok choy, sui choy and other asian vegetables popularity is rising with the patterns of immigration to the country. As each population of the Canadian multicultural mix arrives they bring their preferred vegetables and recipes.
Home canning is usually done in brand name jars which have thicker walls than single-use commercial glass jars. The food being preserved needs to be highly acidic, salty or sweet and to be processed in a non-pressure canner. Pressure canners are capable of achieving the elevated temperatures needed to prevent spoilage with non-acidic foods and fish or meat.
Thomas Bulman had started an apple dehydration plant in 1916 on a 4,000-acre ranch just north of Kelowna. The company outgrew the dehydrator in 1926, and the operation was moved to Vernon. Two hundred people could be employed at the peak of season. The company prospered during World War II and expanded to canning and freezing when the technology became available, finally closing in 1977.
The North Okanagan Valley Gleaners Society was created in 2007 in response to the problem of world hunger. The society makes use of the donated excess vegetables and fruit produced in the Okanagan Valley. Volunteers help with the cleaning, chopping, and preparation of the produce for the dehydration, as well as packaging the final product.. Distribution is done by reputable and established Christian aid organizations.
The origins of pickling may date back to 2400 BC in Northern India however most cultures world-wide have developed unique pickling methods for preserving food. Kimchi, sauerkraut, dill pickles, piccalilli, and many more.
In traditional pickling, fruit or vegetables are submerged in brine or shredded and salted and held under the resulting juices by flat stones layered on top. In fermentation pickling, the food itself produces the preservation agent, through the presence of Lactobacillus bacteria which produces lactic acid. Alternately, food can be pre-soaked in brine before transferring to vinegar. This reduces the water content of the food, which would otherwise dilute the vinegar. This method is particularly useful for fruit and vegetables with high water content.
Glazed lidded crocks for pickling were a common household item before the advent of canning jars.
Dairy farming has always brought with it the home based manufacture of secondary products: butter, cheese, yoghurt. However the development of commercial cheese production in the area is fairly recent. There are now several cheese factories in the Lumby area.
The Kitchen Garden
It was the duty of the housewife and children to tend the pioneer vegetable garden, to grow fresh fruit and vegetables in summer and preserve enough for winter use. A typical 19th century kitchen garden included basic root plants such as beets, carrots, turnips, and radishes, and leafy vegetables such as lettuce, chard, cress, and legumes. (source: Stanhope Heritage Museum)
According to Ignace, people of the Secwepemc relied on salmon for 40% of their protein and an adult would consume approximately 250 salmon per year. (p 162) Records show that dried salmon was also a major trade item. The Secwepemc provided a total of 18,411 dried salmon to the Thompson River and Okanagan trading posts in 1826. (Ignace p 432)
Domestic honey bees were brought to North America by early European settlers. Father Pandosy has been credited with establishing honey bees in the Okanagan Valley in south Kelowna. Domestic bees have been increasingly threatened by use of weedkillers, pesticides and other chemicals.
Pre-contact, the cedar tree was a vitally important source of fibre for many purposes including basket making.These baskets carried roots and berries and served as cradles for babies. If woven tightly enough the baskets served as cooking pots. People would heat up stones in a fire and then add the stones into the water tight basket to cook meals. Cedar root baskets are very durable and many have survived many years of use and storage." information from the Lake Country Museum.
Other plants,such as Indian hemp and hazelnut roots were important sources of fibre.
Okanagan and Secwepemc Technology
The glaciers had retreated from south central BC about 13 thousand years ago. At first the land was barren but gradually plant and animal life moved in to the raw land. By 11 thousand years ago the warming trend resulted in an opening up of the valley bottoms and archaeological consensus is that human occupation likely followed soon after (Ignace p 80.) Solid archaeological evidence secured by carbon dating has given us 8,340 years ago as a fixed date for " Gore Creek man" from the South Thompson River valley. The variety of tools discovered in the central plateau area of BC indicate the cross roads between several different traditions south, east and west, but by about 7,500 years ago a distinctive Nesikep culture had solidified. The continuity, variety and sophistication of the stone points: spear heads, knives and scrapers are evidence of long historical development and are found "in almost every environmental niche and geological context and at almost all altitudes. " throughout the region. (Ignace p 87) Archaeological evidence is clear that the Interior Plateau Region was continuously occupied for thousands of years.
The following quote is taken from "a Memorial to Sir Wifred Laurier ... from the Suswap, Okanagan and Couteau tribes of British Columbia ... 1910"
"The country of each tribe was just the same (When settlers arrived) as a very large farm or ranch (belonging to all the people of the tribe) from which they gathered their food and clothing, etc., fish which they got in plenty for food, grass and vegetation on which their horses grazed and the game lived, and much of which furnished materials for manufactures, etc., stone which furnished pipes,utensils, and tools, etc., trees which furnished firewood, materials for houses and utensils,plants, roots, seeds, nuts and berries which grew abundantly and were gathered in their season just the same as the crops on a ranch, and used for food; minerals, shells, etc., which were used for ornament and for plants, etc., water which was free to all." The whole document is available online.
Shovel & Scythe
The shovel in the mural is a square spade used for french intensive gardening. French intensive gardening was developed in the 1890s near Paris as a way of providing fresh vegetables for the city. The crops were planted in 18 inches of horse manure, a readily available fertilizer(given horse transportation), and planted so close together that the mature plants' leaves touched their neighbors. This method of gardening was introduced to the United States by Alan Chadwick in California in the late 60s, early 70s. (Wikipedia)
The scythe may have dated back as far as c. 500 BC but became more common in Europe with agricultural developments during the 8th century. Initially used mostly for mowing hay, it had replaced the sickle for reaping crops by the 16th century as the scythe was more efficient. The scythe remained in common use for many years after the introduction of machines because a side-mounted finger-bar mower, whether horse or tractor drawn, could not mow in front of itself and scythes were still needed to open up a meadow by clearing the first swathe to give the mechanical mower room to start. Scythes are beginning a comeback in American suburbs, since they "don't use gas, don't get hot, don't make noise, do make for exercise, and do cut grass." from Wikipedia
German Cabbage Shredder
Cabbage and the technology to preserve it (sauerkraut) was one of the mainstay European crops to make it's way to the valley with German immigrants.
Post Hole Digger
The post hole digger and the wheel represent colonization. The Lumby Historical Society in the book "Grassroots of Lumby" states that the first preemptions of land in the Lumby area were submitted in 1874. "It was not uncommon for pioneers to stake out a homestead without formally filing papers"(Grassroots...p 9) Preemptions were followed by "Crown Grants" which required the clearing, fencing and building of structures on the piece of land. Prior to these preemptions (in 1862) there had been an intent to protect from preemption a "reserve of Indian land at Cherry Creek) (Ignace p 440). Like many other of the Douglas Reserves, this one was not successful in protecting Secwepemc interests.
The process of preemption and crown grants on unceded territory and the lack of acknowledgement of "reserve lands" cut up traditional Secwepemc and Okanagan territory with fences and roads interrupting the food gathering traditions of both People. (Ignace)
"It is clear from references in the fur trade literature that and elaborate system of trails had been well used long before the first Europeans arrived in the Interior Plateau region" These trails were used by settlers for wagon roads which later were built up as highways and railways. (Ignace p 229)
Roads cut through aboriginal territories limiting and often preventing access to hereditary food production areas. The wheel and the post hole digger represent roads and fences selected to represent the profound changes to the land resulting from settlement.
The milk separator was an essential piece of technology for the dairy farm, separating cream for the production of butter and cream for sale. Excess skim milk was used as food for other animals.
Ingenious methods and the use of found materials to aid in the preservation of fish and meat are represented by a smoke barrel. Many families still rely heavily on locally hunted game and fish and some smoke their own meat. Cold smoking of meat to preserve it is the second part of the process of “pickling” meat. First the meat had to be layered dry with salt, sugar and a few other ingredients in a crock or in a brine solution for the required length of time. Temperature, cleanliness and attention to the process were all important and the skills for meat preservation were often passed on in families.
The smoke can be made from hardwood chips, maple apple, hickory or even very dry corncobs (not sweet corn).