About Farming & Ranching

Farming & Ranching​

The first Europeans to live in Westbank did so for the purpose of ranching cattle. In 1873 Mrs. Susan Allison and Mr. John Allison arrived in the Okanagan from Similkameen, with the intention of settling. The Okanagan region’s lush grassed properties promised a solution to Mr. Allison’s grazing problem experienced at home. Subsequently, Mrs. Allison became the first white woman to settle on the west bank of Okanagan lake. They decided to build their homestead on the foot of Mount Boucherie overlooking Green Bay, where Quails Gate Winery is now located. At their arrival, their cabin was unfinished and thus the family lived outside in a tent until Christmas. Mrs. Allison affectionately named the area Sunnyside. After a particularly cold winter in 1879-1880, that almost completely wiped out John’s cattle, the family decided to leave Sunnyside and return home to Similkameen. The name ‘Sunnyside” was effectively lost after their departure, until Dorothy’s correspondence with Mrs. Allison which led to the re-emergence of the name.

Today, the Ranching industry has disappeared on the Westside. However, Glenrosa has an extensive history in the industry. Following the closure of the Hitchner sawmill in 1913, the family converted their operations to cattle ranching. Many people who had once been employed at the mill left Glenrosa in search of work and only ten families remained in the area afterwards. In 1946, the Hitchner Farm was sold to the Ficke family who took up ranching as well. Ranching seemed to be well established in the area at the time of the transaction. In 1931, John Weber 137 acres were sold to John and Bertha Weber in lower Glenrosa. Their farm was mixed with a number of stocks in the herd along with some horses. Many farmers in the area later switched from cattle ranching to haying, and then subsequently sold their property to developers.

As mentioned in the Orchard History of the Westside, the Gellatly family moved from Ontario to the Okanagan in 1990. Small fruits and vegetables were planted as soon as the land was ready. Their business, G.E Gellatly and Sons became the first business in the area. The commercial farm supplied fruits and vegetables to workers and miners in the Kootenays and the Calgary market. In fact, they grew the first tomatoes to ever leave the Okanagan. A greenhouse was built in 1905 dedicated to growing tomato plants. This allowed the family to ship carloads of vegetables and later, after an extension was built, fruits. In 1907, the farm’s production increased exponentially and eventually became a packing house.

[1] http://www.westbank.biz/history.html [2] OHS 67th report, 2003, p.127, Allison binder [3] A little bit of Okanagan history, p.190 [4] Gellatly #1, Westside Weekly, June 25 2006 [5] Gellatly, “The Gellatly Pioneers”