Friday, 26 January 2018

Okanagan Burials - Kelowna & District Gen.Soc.

Beautiful BC        © Penny Allen
Thanks to genealogists I follow on Twitter I found another very important resource for obituaries in British Columbia. Those who are active in the BC Genealogy community are probably aware of this fabulous find - so forgive me for repeating this information.

The Kelowna & District Genealogical Society (KDGS) have been actively collecting information about burials and obituaries for more than 9 years. These have been compiled into 16 books, containing photographs, personal stories, maps and history of the local areas. 
Please see an important message that was sent to me by Susan Campbell, Chair, KDGS Cemetery Recording Committee. 
It is located in the section below: 
This research resulted in the book [...]
( !! If you're a skimmer, jump to this section for a further update !! )

The shining star in the collection is a special volume on the pioneers of the area who died as the result of drowning accidents or incidents associated with mining. The south bank of Mission Creek was a long time fishing area for First Nations and later a mining location for incoming European and Chinese settlers.

This research started with an enquiry via the Vernon & District Family History Society (VDFHS).

A researcher from Wales had contacted the Vernon & District Family History Society (VDFHS) who in turn contacted the Kelowna & District Genealogical Society (KDGS).

A gravemarker found in Wales noted a John Williams who drowned in 1877 in the Okanagan. Not surprisingly, the mis-spelling of Okanagan on the gravestone caused some confusion at first.  Using mining records, Bob Hayes and Susan Campbell found a record of John Williams claim alongside Mission Creek which confirmed the death.

This research resulted in the book: 'Isolated Burials in the Central Okanagan with Genealogies and Local History' by Bob Hayes and Susan Campbell. The book was so successful that it was chosen as a second place winner by the British Columbia Genealogical Society (BCGS) in 2017. It was also short-listed for the British Columbia Historical Federation (BCHF) book award which brought it to the attention of the historical community of the province. Which resulted in an interview on CBC's Daybreak South program - Listen Here

A message from Susan Campbell, Chair, KDGS Cemetery Recording Committee:
"The research and writing took a number of years of dedicated work. We are pleased that the historical and genealogical communities consider our work to be a valuable addition to the collective knowledge of our past. Many of the early settlers to the Okanagan were from the British Isles. They pioneered in farming and other occupations. Some of their stories have been documented in our books. A few copies of our "Isolated Burials" and "Index of Names" books are still available. We will not be printing more. If interested, please contact me at   At some future date, we plan to make these publications available digitally."
Don't stop here, have a good look through the KDGS website, as there are many more treasures for those whose ancestors settled or even passed through the Okanagan Valley.

Index of Names in the Central Okanagan has over 9000 names listed. These are taken from all the books published in Series 1 and 2.

Information about the digitized books can be found on their publications page:

Online Obituaries Index:  On this page there are 20,000+ obituaries indexed.  When you have found the surname via the links on this page, request a copy to be sent electronically.

Where are the books? (Some of us are still old school and we like a book in our hands.)

Archives: Library and Archives Canada (LAC); BC Archives; Kelowna Public ArchivesLake Country Archives; Westbank Archives; Red Deer Archives

Libraries: KDGS Library, Okanagan Regional Library; UBC Okanagan; Okanagan College; Vancouver Public Library; BC Genealogical Society Walter Draycott Library; Salt Lake City Family History Library (U.S.); Allen County Public Library (U.S.)

Contact Information:
Kelowna & District Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 21105
Kelowna, British Columbia
V1Y 9N8
Email: for information about the society
Email: for research enquiries

As many miners in Wales, Lancashire and the Midlands emigrated to British Columbia and area, this will be a fabulous resource to search for your long lost missing ancestor! I'm disappointed that the British Library and the Society of Genealogists in London don't have a copy, but can't expect miracles!

PS - My handle is @pennysresearch

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