Art and Agnes’ house in the Coldstream Valley (historical photos) was located immediately north of the Ormsby's, and they used to visit frequently. They remember Mrs. Maggie Ormsby as a "charming, warm, loving, motherly kind of person; very friendly and delightful." Agnes remembers dropping in frequently with her young family. George had what Art referred to as "a very Irish sense of humour" and a kindly wit, although they also saw him as "quite a distinguished person." Art remembered that George was the only person he had ever heard of who was granted a special driver's license. In his old age, George was granted a license that allowed him to drive only between his home and Vernon! (George had lost all but 1/3 of one lung to Mustard Gas in World War 1.)
Art and Agnes talked about the society and culture of the Coldstream Valley. They noted that in the early days, those who did not have English accents "were not very well received." Art remembers riding to hounds as a child in the area. There were no foxes, so someone would drag a cloth with scent on it for the hounds to follow. The "hunters" would stop for tea at one of the elegant houses in the neighbourhood at the end of the hunt.
When I asked them about Margaret's relations with the community, they remembered that Margaret at first seemed to miss the comraderie and activity of her professional life in Vancouver. Agnes sensed that Margaret had been quite hurt, though not bitter, because there had been "no fanfare, no parties in her honour" when she returned to the Coldstream Valley on her retirement. They got the impression that she felt she was not as appreciated by the community as she might have wished. As Agnes and Art noted, the Coldstream Valley in the 1970s had become a place where a hailstorm or a baseball game was of much more interest than the return of a historian; her return "didn't make a ripple" she was just one more person moving back." Ninety percent of the people didn't know that she wrote the book on the history of British Columbia. As they pointed out, higher education was something that happened elsewhere, outside of the Okanagan in those days, and most people had little interest in it.
This may have helped to explain why, although Margaret visited with a few remaining old friends in the Valley, including the Armstrong sisters (Mrs. Mclean and Mrs. McCallum), she did not seem to make any new friends or even acquaintances after her return. Agnes wondered if perhaps people avoided Margaret because she was so well-educated that they felt intimidated by her. Although she emphasized that Margaret was never egotistical or boasting, her reserved and private nature might have made it even more difficult for her to make new friends. Agnes remembered, however, that Margaret was very loyal to her old friends, visiting Mrs. McCallum faithfully through her last illness.
They noted that Margaret was very proud of her academic achievements, and very proud that she had achieved so much education at a time when so few women did so. They suggested that women who achieved so much would have had to be assertive. Margaret was proud of attending Bryn Mawr, and credited her father George with having encouraged her education by exposing her to good books. Margaret was also very proud of being born in a log cabin in Quesnel, and would often tell the story to Agnes of her pioneer beginnings.
Agnes had some amusing anecdotes to relate about Margaret. She remembers Margaret telling the story of one trip with the National Historical Sites and Monuments Board, when one young gentlemen was obliged to firmly push Margaret's backside to help her to get up a hill. Agnes remembers Margaret roaring with laughter as she told the story.
Agnes also told the story of Sophie Hryashmishin and the forget-me-nots. Sophie and Pete were a Ukranian couple who own the property now the Ormsby Drive subdivision who, having been prisoners of war in Europe during the Second World War, were hired by George and Maggie Ormsby to work in the house and orchard respectively. Margaret continued to hire Sophie to clean her house and help in the garden. Margaret very much enjoyed gardening. She told Agnes one day that she had returned home only to find that Sophie (a formidable woman) was pulling up her prize forget-me-nots in the garden. "But Sophie", Margaret had said, "those forget-me-nots make such a lovely blue haze as I look out my window." Sophie just replied "too many forgets" and continued pulling them out. Agnes remembers Margaret laughing as she told the story, rather ruefully, to Agnes who also had Sophie in to clean, and was familiar with her uncompromising character!
The picture of Margaret that appeared through the stories of Art and Agnes was of a woman who was often warm and friendly, but who was very conscious of her own social position and accomplishments, and did not mix easily with the wider community in her retirment.
Margaret A. Ormsby Oral History Project fonds
Order of British Columbia Biography
Author: British Columbia: A History (1958; rev 1971)
Author: Coldstream Nulli Secundus A history of the Corporation of the District of Coldstream.
Author: A Pioneer Gentlewoman in British Columbia - The Recollections of Susan Allison
Margaret Ormsby Scholarships in British Columbia History
President, Canadian Historical Association: 1965 - 1966
Simon Fraser University Margaret Ormsby History Prize Endowment Fund
Editor: Annual Reports of the Okanagan Historical Society
- Okanagan Historical Society Website
The property to the south of the Ormbsy estate (a Bird Sanctuary south of Coldstream Creek Rd on the waterfront) is also a large, exclusive Provincial Heritage site owned by the NONC Foundation (North Okanagan Naturalist Club.) Much credit should be given re the present state of their beutiful gardens to Michelle Puhlmann Landscaping.
"Agnes told the story of one prominent and well-to-do English woman, a Mrs. Bishop, who lived in a house across from the Ormsby's. She called Mrs. Mackie one evening to invite them for dinner. Before hanging up the telephone, Mrs. Bishop added, "And be sure to tell Mr. Mackie to wear his dinner jacket." When Mrs. Mackie said that she was sure that the moths had eaten his jacket years ago, Mrs. Bishop said, "Well, perhaps you could come for tea sometime, then." Agnes noted that Mrs. Bishop's daughter Lydia Bishop left that house to the Naturalists’ Society, and the property is now a North Okanagan Naturalist Club bird sanctuary. Art and Agnes remembered that in earlier days there was very little social mixing of these upper class English people and the lower classes, comprised of packing house workers, and other manual workers, except of the employer - employee type of relation. When I asked if the Ormsby's, not being English but Irish and Canadian, were included in the “Society” of the Coldstream Valley, Agnes said that they were "included in, but were not of that society.""
Sveva Caetani resided here for many years. Her friendship with Paddy Mackie was fostered during many Scrabble games.
The property to the north
Sovereign site is also a large, exclusive Provincial Heritage site -
Lake House Foundation. The house was built in 1913 and
and Hugh Fylton Mackie, and his wife, Grace Elizabeth Mackie from
Layton's after his retirement from Vernon Preparatory School in 1945.
The Mackie's Vernon Preparatory School which was located at the east end of Coldstream. A number of prominent British Columbians attended it.
Paddy Mackie, a French language instructor at Seaton High School, routinely played his flute (on the back porch seen below) while accompanying classical music albums. The sound of that sweet music drifting through the trees is one of the fondest memories the family has of living at Pheasant Run.
Paddie held many "soirees"
society parties) at the house.
Mackie Family photos in the Vernon Museum Archives.
Hugh Mackie lost two sons in the RCAF during 1941 in WW2. (Paddy served in the Navy on a Corvette.) Hugh planted 2 Km of Ginnala Maple Trees in memory of them along Kalamlaka Road between Aberdeen Road and Coldstream Ranch. He had to replant them several times, and in Jan. 2008 the District of Coldstream discussed continuing with replanting the memorial drive.
I recall trees at the Coldstrean Ranch end of Kalamalka Rd which had the name plates of other lads lost during the war.
Geoffrey Fylton Mackie was a Flight Lieutenant: Service No: J/3470, just beginning a career as a flight instructor when he was killed in an aerobatics accident on Feb. 15, 1941 Age 21, crashing into ice near Belleville Ontario (exerpt below, see other recovery story - elsewhere reported as near Brandon.) The Harvard Aircraft Association has initiated dive recovery of the wreckage. He is memorialized or buried at the family plot at the Coldstream Cemetary.
Recovery Team NEWS
His brother John
Fylton Mackie, was also a Pilot officer: Military Service
and a Canadian
"Ace" with 7 enemy shot down. (6 in Libya.)
He was killed two months to the day after his brothers accident during the early stages of the evacuation from Greece - outnumbered by some 800 (Italian and German) to 80 RAF planes at the time: one day after the main German thrust into Greece began. "On 15th April 1941 a brief but vicious fight erupted over Larissa airfield in Greece between Hurricanes of 33 Squadron RAF and Bf 109s of II/JG 77. P/O Charles Chetham was shot down and killed by Lt. Jacob Arnoldy. But while Arnoldy was doing this, F/L John Mackie got on his tail and shot him down. Arnoldy baled out but had been hit in the chest by one bullet. (Image of Arnold's Messershmit which John shot down.) Meanwhile Fw. Otto Kohler got on Mackie's tail and shot him down, killing him when his Hurricane crashed. Mackie crashed before Arnoldy reached the ground, alive. Arnoldy was taken to the RAF Medical Officer's tent but died within a short time. Arnoldy's Bf 109 made a perfect belly-landing by itself." *
* "Air War for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete" by Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia.
The decision to evacuate was made two days later and by April 24th the BEF had retreated to Crete. Thus John Fylton Mackie was buried in an unmarked grave at Eleusis, Greece, some five miles W of Athens and is therefore commemorated on the ALAMEIN MEMORIAL in Egypt and at the family gravesite in the Coldstream.
1939 Portrait of Geoff
After confirming the validity of the reports, the team shifted their attention to conducting a search of the most likely area. Although the water was shallow, the visibility was extremely poor due to the muddy bottom and the large summer algae bloom. They quickly realized a large scale search by divers would be impossible. The sonar became the essential tool in the search. Unaffected by the low visibility, the sonar could produce detailed images of the bottom and any object lying there. It wasn’t long before the team came up with a sonar image that showed a major disturbance on the bottom that could easily be the crash site The group has obtained a license from the Ontario Ministry of Culture and is now planning to dive on the what they believe is the fuselage of Pilot Officer Mackie’s Harvard Mark 1 aircraft. Says one excited member of the team, “it won’t be long before the wreckage of his aircraft is identified, surveyed, and its mysteries revealed”
“Search Team News” Issue 17-1 JW Fishers Mfg Inc.
Judging by his picture, he
to have been a bit of a character and as such must have fit in well
Related Articles and Links
||Pheasant Run Property
- Property Maintenance Tips
||..Neighboring Provincial Heritage sites and their Foundations|