Father Pandosy

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Charles John Felix Adolph Pandosy, or more commonly known as Father Pandosy, was the first settler in the Kelowna area. He set up a church and a school and attracted many settlers to the area.[1] He founded the Okanagan Mission which was the first permanent white settlement in the British Columbia Interior aside from the forts for the Hudson's Bay Company and the gold rush boomtowns of the Fraser Canyon.[2]


The Catholic Church wanted a presence in the New Land because the Protestant Church was already well established there in the mid 1850s, particularly around the Oregon Trail. The Catholic Church asked France if they had any priests to send over. Pandosy and a small group of oblates from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), left Marseilles in 1847 when Pandosy was only twenty-four.[1]

In North America[edit]

When the Oblates arrived in the Oregon Territory, Father Pandosy was ordained and became Father Charles Marie Pandosy, OMI.[1] The missionaries had been sent to convert the Yakima Indians to Catholicism. Their arrival was just before the two-year-long (1855-56) Cayuse War. In this war, a dozen white settlers were massacred by the Cayuse tribe. Father Pandosy persuaded the Yakimas to stay neutral during this conflict through his friendship with their chief, Kamiakin. Father Pandosy established two new missions during this time; The Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph's Mission. During the war, St. Joseph's Mission was destroyed. Father Pandosy and the other missionaries began to feel threatened so they left for Esquimalt on Vancouver Island, which now is part of British Columbia. [3]

Okanagan Mission[edit]

In 1858, Father Pandosy and the missionaries arrived in Esquimalt in the summer. [1] Father Pandosy wanted to start a new colony in the Interior and he chose the Okanagan area. He started looking for people to join him. French-Canadian brothers, Theodor and Cyprienne Laurence, Cyprienne's wife Therese who was a member of the Flathead tribe and an unnamed Flathead man joined Father Pandosy and set off for the Okanagan. In the fall of 1859 they arrived in the Okanagan and settled down. However in the spring it became too marshy so they moved to a spot near modern day Mission Creek that summer. They built a small log home with a church on the ground floor and they slept upstairs. [1] They called it Mission of the Immaculate Conception and it was located on the site they called L'Anse au Sable (Sandy Cove). Father Pandosy's Mission is commonly called Okanagan Mission. The site was not established for fur or gold but rather as a religious site and community settlement. Father Pandosy was just as much a farmer as he was a priest. Okanagan Mission had hogs, sheep, oats, barley, wheat, tobacco and potatoes. [2] Father Pandosy's Mission was the first cemetery, [3] the first place of worship and the first school in the Southern Interior. [2] Two years after it was founded, 121 people were baptized at Okanagan Mission. In 1865, a brother's house was added to the site to house the many priests that stayed there as they were passing through as well as travelers who needed a place to stay. In 1866, a log barn was added to the site. Father Pandosy farmed and found ways to irrigate the land so a root cellar was also built. In 1882, a new sawn lumber church was added. This new church had five Gothic style windows and a bell tower. A bell that was given to Father Pandosy by Joseph Christien hung in the tower of the new church. father Pandosy was sent on missions across British Columbia and sometimes he would stay away for years at a time but he always came back to Okanagan Mission. Okanagan Mission became the Catholic Church's headquarters for the area. However, in 1885, after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway's new transcontinental line, the oblates switched their headquarters to St. Louis Mission in Kamloops. [1]

During his service in British Columbia, he established other missions, including one on Harbledown Island in 1863 which was later closed by Bishop D'Herbomez in 1874.[4] Louis d'Herbomez built mission with him in 1847, in Washington near Yakima, which was named Sainte Croix. Location was main summer camp for Chief Kamiakin[5]


In February of 1891, Father Pandosy was called to Keremeos. he was 67 years old and in tentative health. He made it to Keremeos and began his trip back. He made it to Penticton and was very ill. Chief Francoise of the Penticton Indian Band noticed Father Pandosy's illness and took him in. Thomas Ellis' wife was called because of her nursing skills. Little could be done for Father Pandosy and he died on February 6, 1891. His body was sent back to Okanagan Mission on the steamer Penticton. He was buried across the street from the site he founded. [1]Father Pandosy's grave was discovered by a team of archeologists from Vancouver in the 1980s. The dig also discovered the graves of several early settlers pre-1900. The site is located in the middle of a working farm, Little Church Organics, about 100 metres from the homestead site.


In 1896, Okanagan Mission was sold to Father Eumelin. Father Eumelin ran the Mission until 1902. Father Pandosy's Mission closed in 1902 and the land was purchased by the Kelowna Land and Orchard Company. Father Pandosy's Mission had been a place of worship for forty-four years. 1947 saw the property sold again and it was slated for demolition but a group of volunteers rescued and restored the three original buildings on the site. Father Pandosy's original sawn wood church was sold to a local congregation and they moved the church to their site in Rutland where it was later destroyed by fire. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate bought the two acres that held the original buildings in 1954. In 1983, the site was designated as a B.C. Heritage Site. Father Pandosy's Mission is now four acres and other historic buildings have been put on site. [1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h The Kelowna Story An Okanagan History, Sharron J. Simpson, 2011, Harbour Publishing Company Limited, ISBN 978-1-55017-539-4
  2. ^ a b c The History of Okanagan Mission A Centennial Retrospect, Primrose Upton, 1958, Okanagan Mission Centennial Committee
  3. ^ a b British Columbia Ghost Town Series Okanagan-Similikimeen, T.W. Paterson, 1983, Sunfire Publications
  4. ^ BC Names/GeoBC entry "Harbledown Island"
  5. ^ Winthrop, Theodore (1863. 2006= edition w Notes). The Canoe and the Saddle. Univ of Nebraska Press. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-8032-9863-7.  Check date values in: |date= (help)