Christmas in Penticton – 1905; Real History

Thank you for visiting “Life and Random Thinking”

Here where I live in Penticton, the public library and the museum are located in the same building. When I entered the building this week I saw and copied information posted by the museum.

What you read today is a true account of a Penticton Christmas in 1905. The story was printed up in the newspaper from museum archives.

It caught my eye because the city was just a baby then; people couldn’t have Christmas trees because most of them were living in tents.

The city site had been sold to the city by the cattle baron, Tom Ellis, whose cattle domain extended all the way to the American border. The information is from a newspaper article in 1958 (pictured also).

I hope you enjoy reading about Christmas in 1905 in what was then almost all a tent community.

The hearts of parents in making magical memories of Christmas seems to be timeless – ♥



Christmas 1905 in Penticton Recalled

By Sugra D’Rial

It was a lovely November day, and I left the tent looking forward to my walk and to the visit I hoped to make later on.

Calling in at Schubert’s store to pick up the mail, I found Mrs. J.R. Mitchell and Mrs. Curtis, and as they had also been invited to tea with Mrs. Mather in the old Penticton Hotel, we walk-up together. We found Mrs. Latimer and Mrs. Coldwell there before us and we spent a most enjoyable afternoon talking about the homes and friends we had left, and how we were getting on in this new, and to us, barren land with its sagebrush, rattlesnakes and cattle, and no way out save by steamer.


Then someone mentioned Christmas, only six weeks away. As all save one of us lived in tents, a tree was out of the question. Many suggestions were made and we parted promising to think things over and see if we had any ideas that could be used.

We agreed to meet the following Monday afternoon. This we did and Mrs. Mather said C.A.C. Stewart was more than willing to let us have the newly finished Travelers’ Sample room, which had been added to the south east corner of the hotel.

We also found that many signified their willingness to give money. We went ahead. One of the firefighters said he would bring us a tree, and they all gave money. No one gave less than $5.00 and some $10.00 and two gave $15.00.


We found that altogether there were 80 children in town, so we invited everyone to come on a set date, and many who couldn’t come gave us money. We bought all the toys Kidsen and Taylor had in their store and I sent out an order for toys to Spencer’s in Vancouver.

The tree looked lovely. We all had a few Christmas things to trim the tree with us, and with the peppermint candy canes. Lit candles and lovely star on top, our tree left little to be desired.

Mr. Brett, who opened a small tobacco, magazine and ice cream store on Front St., was our Santa Claus.

We had so much money, we had three toys for each child. My three-year-old got a spinning top, a trumpet and a wheelbarrow large enough for him to wheel his cocker spaniel and his kitty in. There were nuts, candles and oranges galore, with enough left over for the adults to have for themselves.

We sung Christmas Carols before the arrival of Santa Claus, who arrived with much stamping of feet and ringing of bells, and once again we watched the stars shine in the eyes of the youngsters as the mystery and wonder of Christmas took hold of them.

Then as the little ones grew sleepy we took them home and some of the “older children” took over and danced til the “wee small hours”.

Thus ended the first Christmas Eve after the S.O.L. Co.(South Okanagan Land Company)  took over the district from Mr. Ellis.

Background: Thomas Ellis was the first European settler in the area known today as Penticton, British Columbia. He was the biggest cattle baron in the South Okanagan area.  In the early half of the 1890s he entered into an agreement with the Penticton Townsite Company and he sold his land which became part of the City of Penticton.

If you want to learn more about this little city, where it is, and what the name means – click here.

Merry Christmas – and thank you for your interest in my blog. Best wishes to you! – David

About dfolstad58

I live in the South Okanagan. BC. I enjoy reading, exercise, toastmasters. spending time with my son, my daughter, & her husband , and my patient wife. I try to respond personally to every comment on my blog, and in this way I hope to get to know my readers a little bit and and am able to thank readers for their encouragement on what they liked and suggestions on what they would like to see me try in order to improve.
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8 Responses to Christmas in Penticton – 1905; Real History

  1. A beautiful story and a reminder that it’s not the amount of money we spend that matters but the joy on the faces of our loved ones gathering to make Christmas memories!


  2. Darlene says:

    A wonderful story. It seems folks have always tried to make Christmas special no matter the circumstances. Those were hefty donations for that time. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. An interesting piece of history. I’d wondered how long Penticton had been around.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. pkadams says:

    Great story of human connection and love!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sandra J says:

    What a wonderful story, I love seeing the old photos as well. Thank you Dave, I wish you a wonderful new year as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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