Pre-contact, "There were about sixteen root plants whose starchy rhizomes , tubers and bulbs were harvested for thousands of years." (Ignace, p. 180)
Two featured in this mural are Western Spring Beauty and Bitter-root. Western spring beauty or Indian potato was an extremely important early spring source of carbohydrate for the Secwepemc people. The plant could be found along the edges of the retreating snow line and the roots were harvested using the digging stick. The digging stick was used to selectively encourage preferred plants.
Bitter-root one of the most important of all edible roots, grew in gravelly or sandy soil widely distributed in the region. For the Okanagan, Bitter-root was one of the four "food-chiefs" that provided nourishment to the new inhabitants, human beings. Bitter-root had to be harvested at a specific time so that the outer skin of the root could be slipped off. The bitter-root "heart", red in colour, near the top of the root also had to be removed before eating the plant. (Turner p. 137)
There were seven different varieties of Saskatoons in this region, each distinguished by their usage. One type was better for immediate eating another for drying, for example. However, Sakatoons or siya? in Okanagan were more than an important and abundant food source, they were one of the four food chiefs representing the relationship between pre-human spirits and humans.
A number of other berries were also harvested: strawberries, raspberries gooseberries, high bush and low bush cranberries, red and black currents, black caps, chokecherries, Oregon grape and Kinnikinnick. According to Eric Mitchell, Silver Star mountain was the best place for harvesting huckleberries. This wisdom or knowledge was passed on in families with certain people designated as the ones who knew when to start harvesting and where. Various tools and baskets were designed to make harvesting easier and the land was periodically burned and then rested by both Okanagan and Secwepemc to keep it in a healthy state.
Rainbow, Dolly Varden, silver, loon lake and bull trout were also part of the plentiful aquatic life of the region. Records of Pennask Lake show that in the 1920's this lake alone yielded tens of thousands of trout annually "without harm to the stock". (Ignace)
Constructed from sharpened withies of local bushes, weirs were a highly refined technology for harvesting salmon from the creeks and rivers in this region before colonization. Archaeological dating of one weir near Kamloops has shown it to be one mile long with different parts of the construction dated between 120 and 1560 years old, suggesting that this particular weir was in use for hundreds of years and continuously repaired. (Ignace, pp 161-2) Salmon harvested in this way were considered to belong to the whole group.
Grain and feed crops
Early farmers grew oats, barley and wheat for human and animal consumption. Apparently, at one time, there were two water mills for grinding grain in the Lumby area.
In the 1930's Lumby delivered an average of 5,000 tons of hay per year to Vernon. (Lumby Historical Society) Hay storage evolved over the decades in response to mechanization: loose hay was replaced by square bales, square bales by round.
Field corn for silage is an important crop fermented and fed to cattle over the winter months with a variety of means of storage developed: conventional and limited-oxygen tower silos; horizontal silage bunkers; bags and silage bales. . Formerly wooden silos were a significant farm outbuilding, however these have gone into disuse and been mostly dismantled.
Before the use of internal combustion engines or steam, horse and ox drawn teams were an essential part of settlement farming. Consequently breeding, raising, training, feeding and sheltering this livestock was an important part of farm work.
Roy Quesnel is depicted cultivating his field with a Caterpillar tractor. This image is from a photograph taken when Mr. Quesnel was still plowing at age 93
The "White Valley" and other lowlands around Lumby where three creeks meet to form the Bessette, were known as a major migratory bird habitat. Many of the wetlands were drained for farming, however Rawlings Lake and some of the wetlands in the Whitevale and Mabel Lake areas still provide habitat for a variety of migratory birds, including Canada Geese.
the Camel's Hump
The Camel's Hump is a reminder of the volcanic activity in the region. Early Secwepemc legends recall an age of fire and ice which is recognized as referring to this age, dating indigenous settlement to begin close to the end of the glacial era.
Pre-contact, the Okanagan called the Camel's Hump "the Listening Place" because, from that point, "you could hear people coming two weeks away" (E. Mitchell). It was therefore used as a lookout.
"Pig City" as it has been called was part of the Proctor farm demonstrating a free range approach to raising pork rather than enclosed factory farming.
According to Eric Mitchell, the Okanagan tell of COYOTE establishing the limits of the migrating Salmon at Shuswap Falls. The West Canadian Hydro Electric Corporation constructed the Wilsey Dam and generating station at Shuswap Falls in 1929 without regard for the cultural significance of the Falls.
As late as the 1960's the remnants of a kquilya and fishing platform could be found on the south side of the Shuswap below the falls.
Salmon were so abundant in the creeks around Lumby during pioneer days that farmers speared them by the truckload for fertilizer. ("Grassroots of Lumby")
Deer and other ungulates (bighorn, elk, caribou) populated the region after the retreat of the glaciers. They were a major part of the indigenous diet and elaborate stone blinds or hides were constructed for hunting purposes along recognized animal corridors or near licks. As well, rituals were established that made tracking and hunting from close range more successful. For example using the sweat lodge and fasting meant hunters were less likely to be scented by their prey.
Deer are still popular for game hunting but the activity has to be regulated in order to protect the stocks. Loss of habitat threatens the survival of some ungulates native to the region.
the Proctor Barn
The Proctor barn was built from locally milled timber in the 1920s and incorporated some unique features such as a gantry that raised and moved loose hay.
The early cattle drives from Oregon to the goldfields of BC followed the Columbia River to the mouth of the Okanagan River and then north to Okanagan Lake, turning westward near Vernon. The drovers were mostly Americans who did not settle in the country. However, they influenced stock raising and handling techniques as well as ranching practices
By the early to middle 1880's, most of the main ranches had become established in the Okanagan, Similkameen, Nicola, Thompson, and lower Cariboo regions. Many of the ranch owners were middle class British immigrants. The men assumed community, administrative, and legislative responsibilities and played an influential role in the settlement and colonization of the interior of the province.
Many of the early cattle brought to British Columbia were of mixed breeds from the northern United States. Dual purpose Durham (Shorthorn), Devons and purebred Herefords were brought in by various ranchers.
Originally developed in response to the gold rush, cattle ranching became a major industry in the region. Cattlemen's associations, auction houses, slaughtering facilities, 4H clubs training youthful future ranchers; animal judging at fairs and stampedes all were part of the cattle ranching life.
Recently, in response to concerns about disease, the district Range Association has initiated a radio frequency tracing system and regulated farm gate sales.
The farmland around Lumby has proven itself able to support a thriving dairy industry. By 1895 there were three hundred milk cows within a three mile radius of Lumby. The "White Valley Creamery " was formed at one point to ship butter to the Hudson Bay Company in Vernon. The Dyffrin Dairy was the first family owned pasturizng plant in the Okanagan. (Lumby Historical Society) Recently there has been revived interest in speciality cheese production.
As well as being hunted for meat, beaver were a keystone species of the wetlands before settlement. These industrious animals used the native poplar and cottonwood saplings, trees and branches for dams, lodge construction, creating canals to bring food stuff close to deeper water for storage during the winter. In doing this the beaver replanted areas with trees which started easily from dropped twigs.
Beavers create rich, watery habitat for other mammals, fish, turtles, frogs, birds and ducks. Beavers prefer to dam streams in shallow valleys, where the flooded area becomes productive wetlands. These cradles of life support biodiversity creating a valuable land-based ecosystem. (Beavers: wetland and wildlife online)
This process continues in our valley but on a much smaller scale limited by drainage of wetlands for farming.
Snow shoe hare
Snow shoe hare are prolific in the region, providing food for lynx, bobcat, coyotes, birds of prey, Secwepemc, Okanagan and settlers alike.
Ring-necked Pheasants are not a native species but were introduced as a game bird from Asia to the United States and have naturalized, spreading across the continent.
Two types of marmots made this area their home: Hoary marmots are larger and live at higher elevations (alpine); yellow bellied marmots are smaller and live at lower elevations. Marmots may be considered a nuisance by modern farmers but they were a major meat source for people of the interior plateau region.
Pigs are an important part of the mixed farming operation. As well as providing meat, pigs have been invaluable in land clearing. The skim milk which resulted from separating cream for market could be fed to pigs.
Larger scale pig farming has been undertaken (see reference in "Pig City")
Cabbage Moth and other "pests"
The cabbage butterfly is here representing a larger number of insects that we consider "nuisance" or harmful". However, the pesticides that have been developed to eradicate or control such insects have much broader impact on the whole web of life, threatening bees and other beneficial, essential insects.
Quail are native to the area and along with grouse made up part of the indigenous diet and are still hunted as a game bird.
Grouse made up part of the indigenous diet and are still hunted as a game bird.
From time to time adventurous farmers have experimented with more exotic species: ostriches for example. While for some time there is a fashion in raising such species in the end the market has winnowed down the supply to one or two producers.
Sheep, lamas and alpacas
Sheep have been raised for meat but also for their wool. Spinning, and weaving have formed part of the post settlement household arts with the Cherryville weavers' guild and the Monashee Weavers still in existence. Lamas and alpacas have more recently been incuded in this aspect of farming.
Chickens are raise for meat but almost more important for the local food chain is the egg supply. For many years the egg economy was highly regulated by the egg marketing board but recently these regulations have relaxed and a thriving farm gate and local industry in eggs has emerged. Increasing demand for "organic", "ethically produced", and "local" eggs has encouraged more producers in the area.
While not known as a major branch of meat production most farms have kept poultry for meat as well as eggs. Geese, turkeys, guinea fowl and Cornish hens have been raised for local consumption and farm-gate sales.
Root vegetables have formed the mainstay of local farm production: potatoes, carrots, rutabagas, parsnips, turnips and beets are all successfully grown in the region and store well through the winter. A variety of cold storage methods have been developed for this purpose.
Ginseng, a medicinal root, was a specialty experimental crop popular in the eighties. It is hard to find a ginseng farm in the area now.
Garlic is one crop that has developed from experimental to mainstay. Now several producers in the region are supplying markets locally and further afield.
Grasshoppers have been included in the mural because they may represent the future of protein production.
Sweet corn is grown by many home gardeners and also commercially by several farmers in the area. While corn is native to North America, it was not mentioned as part of the local indigenous diet.
Cabbage and potatoes
Potatoes and cabbage formed a significant part of the north European diet and were brought first to the eastern coast but made their way west with the early settlers. Hundreds of recipes using cabbage and potatoes came with them.
Strawberries and raspberries are grown successfully in the area, both for home gardens and commercially. Homemade Jams and preserves are still a popular product for many families in spite of the availability of imported fruit year round.
According to Ignace (Secwepemc People: Land and Laws") moose did not arrive in the south central interior until the first decades of the twentieth century. Moose hunting is regulated and many households rely on getting a moose for the winter.
Soft tree fruits were more successful commercially further south in the Okanagan. However, apples formed a huge export stream from the Coldstream/Vernon Area and a packing house in Vernon employed hundreds of people in its heyday. Orchardists have responded to market forces by planting smaller trees. This makes harvesting and tending easier but sacrifices some of the aesthetic beauty of the older trees. Cherryville got its name from a marketing campaign that encouraged European settlers to immigrate to develop cherry orchards.
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. There are several commercial greenhouses in the Lumby Area.