Current Conditions

Mostly Cloudy
13.2°C

One of Europe's most powerful and wealthy men was an Okanagan tourist in 1893

SS Aberdeen being launched in 1893 at Okanagan Landing near Vernon. Archduke Ferdinand commandeered an almost empty vessel in September, 1893 when he made his way down Okanagan Lake on a hunting expedition west of Penticton.
Image Credit: Penticton Musum and Archives
April 07, 2017 - 9:00 PM

PENTICTON - More than 120 years ago the man whose assassination is widely blamed for the start of the First World War paid a visit to the Okanagan.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand was to be Emperor-King of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when he was shot in 1914. Before many years before that, he was an early tourist to the South Okanagan.

iNFOnews.ca’s Steve Arstad has explored the journey in a four part series and here we offer some highlights.

Recently translated notes by Jean-Claude Brunner, a translator in Vienna, Austria, offers a glimpse into the life and thoughts of one of Europe’s wealthy elite travelling through pioneer era Penticton and the Okanagan.

READ MORE: Before his 1914 assassination ignited WWI, Archduke Ferdinand was one of the Okanagan's first tourists

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
The Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Image Credit: Wikimedia commons
Franz Ferdinand's hunting elephants in Ceylon in January, 1893.
Franz Ferdinand's hunting elephants in Ceylon in January, 1893.
Image Credit: Wikimedia commons
To preface; Franz Ferdinand liked hunting.

He reportedly killed 240,000 animals over his life, and his visit to Penticton from Sept. 11 to Sept. 16, 1893 was to see what the region offered.

There were “lakes full of game, including geese, ducks and grebes in a ‘delightful’ landscape,” Ferdinand wrote, but the promise of mountain sheep and bears fueled his interest.

He hired First Nations people to guide his entourage, but the local attitude towards schedules frustrated Ferdinand.

READ MORE: Penticton pioneer Tom Ellis fails to impress Austrian Archduke

"Unfortunately, here too, punctuality seemed to be an unknown virtue, as when I left my cabin after 9 O’clock neither pack horses nor Indians were to be seen,” he wrote.

However it wasn’t all complaining about the locals, he also took note of the changing world the First Nations were adjusting to.

“Forced to put away their weapons and displaced from their hunting grounds once so rich in game to designated places, reservations, this people is decaying more and more and faster,” he wrote. “For whose blossoming apparently freedom is a vital requirement as the evils of civilization have reached it much faster than the blessings of civilization.”

READ MORE: Archduke's cold forces early end to Penticton hunting trip

Ellis homestead in 1892 (the location today is on Windsor Ave. off Fairview Road in Penticton), looking much like what Archduke Ferdinand would have witnessed when he called on Penticton pioneer Tom Ellis for provisions for his hunting trip to Brent Mountain in 1893.
Ellis homestead in 1892 (the location today is on Windsor Ave. off Fairview Road in Penticton), looking much like what Archduke Ferdinand would have witnessed when he called on Penticton pioneer Tom Ellis for provisions for his hunting trip to Brent Mountain in 1893.
Image Credit: Penticton Musum and Archives

Ferdinand also wrote about environmental concerns. Despite shooting thousands of animals, he was worried pioneers in the region were overusing the local lumber.

“It hurts to see these mighty patriarchs of the wood be destroyed in vain and on thousands of hectares to see only the remains of former beautiful stocks as withered trunks rising into the sky that are charred at the bottom," he wrote.

It seems Ferdinand wasn’t a fan of Thomas Ellis, the pioneer, either.

READ MORE: Archduke's Penticton hunting trip comes to a stormy conclusion

While the two didn't see eye-to-eye from the archduke’s arrival, it was the departure that appears to have brought out the worst in Ellis.

When the entourage prepared to leave and sold off most of their gear, Ferdinand writes Ellis jumped at the opportunity to get cheap equipment and booze. He then got drunk on the spot and cheered when the steamship crashed into the dock as it left.

In the end the prolific hunter left with a few trophies of his trip, shooting a few quail and osprey, but no bears or sheep. The most notable thing he caught in the South Okanagan? A cold that cut short his trip.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 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.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
InfoTel News Ltd

  • Popular kamloops News
  • Comments
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile