For 79 years, the Okanagan Historical Society (OHS) has produced an annual report in the form of articles provided by eight member branches in the Okanagan Valley from Osoyoos to Salmon Arm.
“This is the longest continuously published society report in B.C.,” says Shuswap branch member Diane Ambil. “It began in 1929 and apart from the war years, they’ve published one every year.”
The reports cover the Shuswap, Similkameen and Okanagan, says Ambil, noting that although they are under the umbrella of the parent Okanagan Historical Society, each branch operates independently.
Ambil became an active member of the Shuswap branch when she retired in 2009 and has been local branch editor since then.
“This year, local articles include a 100-year history of the Tappen Co-op, contributed by Rosemary and Allan Wilson, a piece about the attractions of the Salmon Arm setting by Estelle Noakes and two biographies, one on Jim Scales, written by his son, and another on Eric Walters, written by Wynn Gittens.
A section at the back of the report called Lives Remembered features short, anecdotal paragraphs on several residents who are members of long-standing Shuswap families.
“We usually end up putting half a dozen in that section,” Ambil says. “This year’s entries include Vi Berger, Ruby Bridge, Don Byers, Grace Dodds, Roy Jewell, Hans Kusisto and Pat Shirley.”
Each year, the society runs a contest, one essay and one video, and winning entries are published in the annual books.
“There are lots of things about the rest of the valley this year: a piece on the Penticton Vees, the Thompson Okanagan First Nations fight for water rights in the Thompson-Okanagan area and the B.C. wine and grape industry.
Ambil says the Shuswap is well represented as Rosemary Wilson of Tappen is the vice-president of the parent body.
“The Salmon Arm branch has published several books, thanks to (the late) Denis Marshall,” she says. “He wrote many books with the caveat that the profit go to the Salmon Arm branch of the OHS.”
In 1995, Historic Roots featured the people behind the names of several streets. The book has been updated and is now available.
“We revised it because it would say things like across the street from Central Hardware or mention J-Lanes,” Ambil says. “And it’s updated to reference things like Lakeshore instead of Front Street.”
Members of the society will be selling the book at the Mall at Piccadilly on Nov. 26 and 27. The cost is $25 and includes membership in the parent group. It is also available at local book stores.