Sunday, September 19, 2010

Okanagan brigade trails at Dog Lake



The first brigade trail ran through the Okanagan in the 1820's, and followed the shorelines of the lakes that lay along the Okanagan River south of Lake Okanagan.
But there were later brigade trails that took alternate routes that must have been easier to ride.
In this map, modern-day Summerland lies at the top of the page, west of Okanagan Lake.
You can see that there were two trails, separated by a narrow ridge of land, in the Summerland area north of Trout Creek.
The two trails merged or crossed at Summerland, and the upper trail mounted the hills to the west and crossed Trout Creek above its canyons, crossing two tributaries to the river they called Serpent Creek.
The modern name for Serpent Creek is Shingle Creek, which is also the name for the northern-most section of the creek.
If you leave Summerland and drive west along Prairie Valley Road, crossing the Kettle Valley Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway (and maybe passing Summerland's dump), you will more or less be following the route of the Upper brigade trail.
From Trout Creek Flat (where the railways run), the Shingle Creek/Summerland Road follows the route of the brigade trail almost exactly -- the road seems to run a little west of the trail all the way to Shingle Creek bridge.
The brigade trail even crossed Shingle Creek slightly east of modern-day Shingle Creek bridge.
A waiver here -- this information comes from The Okanagan Brigade Trail book I have already spoken of. It was published some years ago and it is, I suppose, possible that the backroads have been re-routed.

Shingle Creek flows eastward all the way to modern-day Penticton and the Okanagan River; modern-day Shatford Creek flows into Shingle Creek from the south.
The upper brigade trail followed the west bank of Shingle Creek and crossed Shatford Creek to the Marron River.
The furtraders called Shatford Creek Sheep Creek or Snake River.
Marron River is still named Marron River; the northernmost lake on the river is Aeneas Lake, and the one to the south Marron Lake.
To the furtraders, a Marron or maron was an unbroken horse.
If you follow the Marron Valley Road northward from Highway 3A, you will be more or less following the brigade trail north all the way to the Shingle Creek bridge.
These backroads follow the brigade trails all over the valley.

In his book "Lifeline of the Oregon Country," James Gibson gives us another batch of names for the various creeks and rivers the brigade trail crossed as it passed west of Dog Lake.
On page 93 he writes: "South of here [Summerland] the track split into an upper (inland) trail and a lower (lakeside) trail.
"The upper variant crossed the Riviere de la Fruite (Trout Creek), the Riviere du Poulin, or Beaver River (Shingle Creek above its junction with Shatford Creek?), the Riviere la Cendri (Shatford Creek?), the Riviere aux Serpens (Marron River?), and the middle course of Park Rill....."
(Park Rill is on the map in next posting).
As you see, the names are moving around and Riviere aux Serpens has moved south to become Marron River.
No wonder these brigade trails are so hard to locate when your only source is the fur traders' journals.
I do happen to know, however, that Riviere la Cendri would have translated as Cinder River.
At Fort Alexandria, Anderson's son James rode a horse he called Petite Cendre -- Little Cinder.

The trail we have followed in this posting was the Upper Trail, a later trail than the one that followed the Okanagan River north along the boggy shorelines.
I don't know whether this upper trail was used when Anderson left New Caledonia in 1840, or whether the lower trail was still in use.
The Lower Trail followed the shoreline, crossing Trout Creek below its two canyons, and travelling east of Mt. Nkwala (named for the Okanagan chief Nicola), followed the western shores of Dog Lake to Marron River.
Because of massive population growth in this area, we can only guess where the lower trail ran.

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