NORTH COUNTY – Several people took advantage of the chance to follow in the footsteps of the fur brigades that trailed through the American and Canadian Okanogan/Okanogan Valley some 200 years ago, listening to lectures and participating in field trips to McLaughlin Canyon and the Similkameen River Trail.
The 200th anniversary celebration of the fur trade included historical lectures about the nearly half-century of the Fur Brigade Trail from 1811-1860. Ken Favrholdt, historian and Curator of the Osoyoos Museum and Randy Manuel, President of the Okanagan (B.C.) Historical Society brought their expertise, experience and historic maps to talk about the actual 1,200 mile long trail, as well as local historical details. Following the talk in Tonasket on Friday, 14 people went on the tour at McLaughlin Canyon south of Tonasket.
At Oroville on Saturday, Sept. 17, Favrholt and Manuel spoke about the ancient Osoyoos Lake crossroads and the major fur brigade encampment at the “Okanogan Forks of the Okanogan and Similkameen Rivers. The presentation was hosted at the Depot Museum by the Okanogan Borderlands Historical Society.
“The American’s occupation at Fort Okanogan, the native use of horses and trade goods, the ethnic groups including Indian, French-Canadian, Scottish, Hawaiian Kanaka as well as Father DeSmet at the ‘Plain of Prayer’ near Hiram Smiths later orchards, were all reviewed,” said Kay Sibley, Director of the Okanogan Borderlands Historical Society. “Major trail changes after the 1846 Boundary settlement, the removal of Hudson Bay Company to Fort Similkameen (Keremeos) were noted as well.”
Manuel and Favholdt had researched and are very well versed in the pre-Civil War saga of the Okanogan-Okanagan region, according to Sibley, who added, a lively historical discussion after the program was a highlight as well.
About eight were on the Similkameen Trail tour the next day on Sunday, Sept. 18.
The series is sponsored by the Okanogan County Historical Society and the Okanagan (BC) Historical Society. The Fur Brigades lectures will move to Canada and run into October, according Ted Murray, Outdoor Recreation Coordinator for Okanogan County.
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