A Pioneer Gentlewoman in British Columbia: The Recollections by Margaret A. Ormsby

By Margaret A. Ormsby

In 1860, on the age of fourteen, Susan Louisa Moir left England for British Columbia. After settling in the beginning at wish, she lived in brief in either Victoria and New Westminster, then BC's most vital settlements. Returning to wish, she helped her mom open the community's first college. In 1868, she married John Fall Allison and, on her honeymoon, rode over the Allison path into the unsettled Similkameen Valley.

Her checklist of the voyage, of Victoria, New Westminster, and desire and her thoughts of the remoted yet pleasing existence she, her husband, and their fourteen childeren led within the Simlkameen and Okanagen valleys offer a different view of the pioneer brain and spirit.

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Extra info for A Pioneer Gentlewoman in British Columbia: The Recollections of Susan Allison

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The raising of capital by Dewdney, however, was not accomplished by the time of Allison's death on 28 October 1897. Beginning in 1890, when his eldest son struck out for himself, Allison was handicapped by a shortage of stock hands. The competition for the beef market had become keener since much larger ranches had emerged in the Okanagan and Nicola valleys. These operations had the advantage of being closer than his to rail transportation. In an effort to meet this competition, Allison began to drive cattle 112 miles through the Nicola Valley for shipment by rail from Spence's Bridge.

Sherman's aides at the time of his call at Allison's in 1883 has left an account which illustrates her successful adjustment to the pioneer life: "Allison's place was a comfortable dwelling with a few outbuildings. In one of the latter was a small store. Allison was at Victoria but his courteous wife received us with hospitality. She was a rosy cheeked woman of about 25 [sic], born in Ceylon, and she had 10 children, healthy handsome urchins, which goes to show that the more distant and difficult of access the place, the more prolific are the human inhabitants.

The recollections are the only account we have of the life of a pioneer woman in British Columbia. Other women, such as Mrs. Augustus Schubert, had remarkable experiences, but none of them left a record of life in the pioneer period. Not only because they enlarge our knowledge of social conditions in the pioneer era, but also because they are a first-hand account of the development of the southern Interior of the province, her recollections constitute an important historical document. Mrs. Allison remains our only authority on the life and customs of the Indians of the Similkameen region.

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