Gallagher who? The man behind the Kelowna canyon, golf course and road | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Gallagher who? The man behind the Kelowna canyon, golf course and road

Mission Creek inside Gallagher's Canyon in Kelowna, March 13, 2010.
Image Credit: FLICKR/Ryan Van Veen

Dan Gallagher, old timers say, was an outgoing, generous loner who played a mean fiddle.

But there’s not a lot known about him, even by those who visited him at this cabin and horse ranch in what is now called Gallagher’s Canyon on Kelowna’s Mission Creek.

“Dan Gallagher is a person I would have loved to have met,” Bob Hayes, president of the Kelowna branch of the Okanagan Historical Society, told “I think he typified the people of that era.”

From what Hayes has heard, Gallagher came to Mission Creek in the 1890s from the U.S.

“The story goes that he actually got into a bit of trouble down there and headed north,” Hayes said. “Perhaps that’s one reason he headed up Mission Creek. Who’s going to find him up there?”

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He mined the creek and raised horses.

Phil Bachmann visited Gallagher as a child, likely when he was in Grade 7 or 8 in the mid-1940s, his wife Gerti told, after conferring with Phil.

“He remembers Dan to be a very generous man,” she said. “He and his cousin would ride their bicycles down after school or on weekends to see him. He had lots of horses, beautiful horses. They would admire them and Dan would say: ‘Look. I’ll give you one that you can take. If you’re really good to these horses you can have one.’ He was so generous that way.’”

The boys, living in Rutland at the time, never took Gallagher up on the offer. 

It’s also known that, despite living a somewhat reclusive life, Gallagher was a very outgoing man, friendly with those who hiked up to his home and was a sought after fiddle player.

“The story goes that he would ride into town on his horse – whether this is true or not – do the entertainment and get well liquored up and the horse knew how to get him home,” Hayes said.

Bachmann recalled that Gallagher had a pet snake living below the floorboards of his cabin that he would bring up for visitors. He also once had a pet deer.

Mission Creek below the falls.
Mission Creek below the falls.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Brenda Bachmann

“He decided, because somebody might want to shoot him because of the season, to put a bell around the deer’s neck,” Bachmann said. “One day, a logger came down Highway 33. He did not hear the bell and shot the deer. Dan was so mad when he found out he went after him with a shotgun but he couldn’t find him. He was long gone.”

Hayes also heard a story that a Chinese miner drowned in the canyon and was buried near Gallagher’s property.

“Dan claimed the ghost... was haunting him,” he said. “I guess he contacted somebody in Chinatown and they came and removed his body and buried him, probably at the Chinese Cemetery, and the hauntings stopped.”

Bachmann hadn’t heard that story but had heard that a man came over the Mission Creek falls and his body was washed down to where the Hollywood Road bridge now is and was buried there.

Neither Hayes nor Bachmann know when Gallagher died but he was there in the 1940s.

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Phil lost touch with him over the years and the last time Gerti was at the property, many years ago, there was only an old barn still standing.

The land was sold to Westbank First Nation and is now gated off, from the end of Gallagher Road in the Black Mountain area on the north side of Mission Creek.

In the 1980s, a golf course was built on the south side and was named Gallagher’s Canyon, as was the housing development that grew up around the course.

There was even, briefly, a suspension bridge across the canyon.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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