Sunday, September 12, 2010

L'Anse au Sable

I erred in an earlier posting when I said that Jesuit missionary Pere Nobili's station was located at Talle d'Epinette, at the north end of Okanagan Lake.
In a later posting I said that it was at L'anse au Sable, and I was again wrong!
Father Pandosy, leader of a group of missionaries called Oblates, came to the Okanagan valley in 1859 and settled on a small lake to the east of Okanagan lake -- Duck Lake.
Their first winter was so difficult they moved their station twelve miles south, to L'anse au Sable.
L'anse au Sable was on the east side of Okanagan Lake, exactly where Anderson's map showed it to be, and where the city of Kelowna now stands.
My French dictionary translates L'Anse au Sable as "Cove of Sand," and there is a sandy beach at Kelowna.
If you browse through the website belonging to Kelowna, you will see that Father Pandosy's Mission in Kelowna is now a Provincial Historical site.

So, now that we have cleared up which missionary was located at L'anse au Sable, we are left to wonder where Pere Nobili set up his mission.
Though its location is not known for sure, Nobili left a number of clues.
Firstly, he said that the station was at "the foot of the Great Lake Okanagan."
The station was located on land that belonged to Chief Nicola, who was an Okanagan Native whose probable home was just west of the great lake -- on Douglas Lake, in fact.
In my earlier posting on the brigade trails around Lake Okanagan, I theorized that Tsilaxitsa, nephew of the powerful Chief Nicola, had built his home near the new brigade trail.
After mulling this for a week or so, I now believe that the trail ran past the long time home of Chief Nicola, and that Tsilaxitsa maintained Nicola's old residence.
The trail that the fur traders later used as a brigade trail after 1843 had probably always existed as a well used Native trail between Douglas Lake and Okanagan Lake, through Okanagan territory.

Pere Nobili has left us more clues to the location of his mission.
Nicola desired to have the mission on his land, away from the Shuswap or Secwepemc people who visited the north end of the lake.
Nobili stated that the mission was on Nicola's land.
The station was two days' journey from the Thompson River post, and three days from the banks of the Columbia River via the Okanogan River.
Ths mission is shown on other missionaries maps: for example, DeSmet's map of 1846, 1848, and 1849.
All these maps show a southern location for Nobili's mission.
Maps from 1850-1860 show "Priest" as the only settlement in the Okanagan, and it is shown on the south end of the lake, with no settlements on the north.
Nobili said that by 1847 there were several buildings at his station.
Finally, a Jesuit crucifix similar to the crucifix carried by Nobili was uncovered at a location near the southern end of the lake.

David Gregory, who is a Summerland resident with a long interest in Pere Nobili, indicates that he believes that Pere Nobili's station was at Nicola Prairie, where Summerland now stands.
He wrote an article for the 2006 Okanagan Historical Society journal, which argues for that location.
But the location of Nobili's mission is not indicated on A.C. Anderson's 1867 map of British Columbia -- or so I thought.
In his 1858 "Map showing the different Routes of Communication with the Gold Region on Fraser's River," Anderson drew in the location of "Priests Encampment."
It appears to be at a place that I have always called "Campement du Prele."
In his book on the Okanagan Brigade trils, historian Harley Hatfield called that place "Campement du Pretre" -- or Priest's Camp.
Harley Hatfield must have been able to look at Anderson's original map, which has been hidden away in the archives for many years.
I have done most of my work with an 1960 photocopy of Anderson's 1867 map; it is only recently that the original map has been digitized and made available to historians.
I have looked at my new digitized copy and discovered that, yes, it could read Campement du Pretre after all.
I have erred again -- after all these years I have learned that Campement du Prele is probably Campement du Pretre!

David Gregory believes that Nobili's camp was at Nicolas Prairie, where the town of Summerland now stands.
Harley R. Hatfield says that Campement du Pretre, or Priest's Camp, was at modern-day Garnet Lake, northwest of Nicolas Prairie at the end of Eneas Creek.
I have talked of the upper and lower brigade trails many times.
The lower brigade trail ran through Nicolas Prairie and appears to be on the east side of a ridge of land that separates Eneas Creek and the Garnet valley from Nicolas Prairie.
The upper trail ran through the Garnet valley following Eneas Creek to Campement du Pretre, then joined the lower trail at Trepaniers River or modern-day Peachland Creek.
Where the trail ran -- and where Pere Nobili's mission was located -- are arguments that might never be settled, as civilization has destroyed almost every sign of these places.
Now is the time to discuss saving whatever remnants of our historical trails and missions remain, before they are totally buried under roads and housing.

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