History of the Land

Canada’s only Exhibit of First Contact

Between the Original Peoples and First European Settlers

The Okanagan is unusual in that it wasn’t settled by Europeans until the turn of the century. In many parts of Canada immigrants had come with very little except their hands, skills and a determination to make a new life in a new land, and while the Okanagan had its share of these determined but poor settlers, it also had an astonishing number of people arriving with money and goods that moved into well-built and often luxurious homes. These settlers were well educated, and took books, fine furnishings, and china tea sets for granted.

Mallam House

Among these settlers was Henry Cecil Mallam. Born in England, he came to Canada in 1903. His father, a doctor, had given his son a good education, then sent him out to seek his fortune in “the Colonies”. In 1904 he bought property in Okanagan Mission Kelowna from Gus Anderson who had preempted it in the 1800’s. On the land was a fine new two story, hand hewn log house built in 1897. Romance was waiting for Henry in the new world. He met and married Giffortina Thomson, daughter of Gifford R. Thomson. He and his bride moved into this substantial home which was sited near a spring. The spring ran year round and still does. The Mallams were active in the community and like many settlers, Henry Mallam joined the army and served in World War I.

The cabin is restored and furnished in it’s original 1800’s condition and is open for touring in small groups of up to ten with no reservation required.

*Re-creation of the Mallam House interior by Ursula Surtees, retired director of the Kelowna Museum.

Makwala Kekuli

In the gully next to the Mallam house is the Makwala Kekuli. This is a replica of the sacred earth house used by the indigenous peoples for centuries as their winter home.  The fire in the centre kept the earth covered dome warm and many friends and family were able to enjoy sleeping and cooking and storytelling.

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