To write a history of the Postill family could be a straightforward task- statistics don't convey very much- born, lived and died, could be the story; but I feel with the Postills that a terrific contribution was made to the young community growing around the Okanagan Mission by the family, particularly Alfred Postill. Here was a man years ahead of his time- he foresaw events and agricultural growth which his more unimaginative neighbors probably laughed to scorn. Alfred, son of Edward Postill, was the first Okanagan member of the British Columbia Fruit Grower's Association, and as such, had fantastic vision about the potentialities of the Okanagan Valley. The first telephone in the interior of B. C. was set up between the Postill Ranch and the home of T. Wood, a distance of 5 miles (1891).
His name was mentioned in 1893 as having called a meeting at the Okanagan School house to find some means of marketing the products of the farmers in this end of the Valley. The Vernon News of Sept. 20, 1897 reports "Mr. and Mrs. A. Postill came home on Monday from a trip to the east of several weeks' duration, during which they visited Montreal, Toronto and other points. Mr. Postill saw all that was best of the eastern agricultural sections, and returns with the firmly grounded belief that no part of Canada offers so many material advantages to the farmer as this portion of British Columbia. It is a pleasure to have our belief in our magnificient resources of soil and climate confirmed so emphatically by a man of Mr. Postill's standing.
Edward Postill, with his wife, Mary Dickenson, lived at Malton, Yorkshire, before immigrating to Ontario. The following delightful story has been given to me by Mrs. __ Barnes, nee Mary Postill. "Edward Postill and Mary Dickenson lived on properous adjoining farms in Malton, Yorkshire in the early 1800's.
They grew up and fell in love. But, as strong-willed lovers do, they had a quarrel and Mary refused to speak to Edward. He tried valiently, but in vain, to get her to speak to him. Finally, in desperation, he declared to her that if she wouldn't speak to him he would go out and ask the first girl he met to marry him. Mary wouldn't relent. So Edward went home, saw the maid in his Mother's kitchen, and asked her to marry him. She accepted and did marry Edward. (Not at all the thing to do in those days!) There must have been a rush to make wedding preparations and choose suitable women's and mens wedding bands for the ceremony. For most couples, choosing the perfect wedding bands can take a great deal of time and effort.
They left shortly afterwards for Canada, and the poor young wife was terribly seasick and ill, and died and was buried at sea. Edward stayed in Canada for a while and then returned to Yorkshire and his then repentant Mary. They were married and lived in England for some eight or nine years before returning to Canada. Father Alfred, the eldest son, was seven years old when they came to Bothwell, Ontario. They were there for about ten years, and then set out for Western Canada, spending about two years in New Westminster before coming to the Okanagan Valley. Edward died in Priest's Valley (Vernon) in 1872. He never saw the ranch which became the home of his Mary and her family for twenty-five interesting and productive years.
Let's stop to look at modes of transportation to Western Canada about 1870. A booklet "Information for Intending Settlers" tells us that "The usual route of travel from the Eastern Provinces to British Columbia is via San Francisco by the Union and Central Pacific Railway, and thence by steamer to Victoria. Many heavy supplies are sent from England around Cape Horn, and it is believed many immigrants will avail themselves of this means of communication. The present advertised passage from San Francisco to Victoria is twenty dollars. The advertised cost of immigrant tickets from the Atlantic seaports to Victoria is from 80 to 90 dollars. The immigrant will have to furnish himself with provisions on the railway.
One hundred pounds weight of baggage is allowed to each adult on the railway, from Chicago to San Francisco and one hundred and fifty pounds weight on the steamer from San Francisco to Victoria. The mail steamers leave San Francisco for Victoria on the 10th, 20th and 30th of each month."
Having given some of the family history, and told you of some of the surviving children, grand-children and great-grand-children, let's go back to the days when Alfred Postill and his wife Eleanor Armour Postill were living on the well-known Postill Ranch. Again I am most grateful to Mrs. J.W. Barnes for her interesting information. "The house was the largest in the valley at that time (1890). During the time that Lord Aberdeen was Governor-General of Canada he bought the Coldstream Ranch, and was a frequent visitor to the Valley and ito the Postill home.
Medical services were very limited - my Mother said that the usual practice about fees, in the case of confinements, was that the Doctor received $50.00 if he arrived before the child was born, and only half that if he arrived too late. She had five children during her life on the ranch and says that when the Doctor would come rushing, asking "Am I in time?" she had the uncharitable feeling that he was more concerned about the fees than the patient! Fees for medical visits other than maternity were based on mileage -- $1.00 per mile.
Our home was set in a large meadow, with a long lane winding down from the road. Mother used to tell us that she never started to get the table for a meal without first looking up the "long lane" to the road to see if there were andy traveler nearing the place, either on horseback or in a buggy. Country etiquet was such that any travellor would come in and share whatever meal the family was having. The horse, or horses, would also be fed and watered. There was no payment made for this.
There is so much more to be written about the Postill family - they were true pioneers, with the vision needed to develop a new settlelment. Here I quote from a letter sent by Mrs. Alfred Postill to the Family Herald and Weekly Star in 1937. Sir: The story "Beef Cattle on Okanagan Hills" appearing recently in your paper does not give full information on the first owners of the Postill Ranch now owned by the McNair Brothers. The Postill Ranch was operated over 20 years by the Postill Brothers, who came with their father from Ontario in 1872. In 1888 Edward died, leaving Alfred and William to carry on. William was the stockman, and his word was law as far as the cattle were concerned.
It was he, not Countess Bubna, who first introduced pure-bred polled Angus cattle into the herd. Alfred was general manager and attended to the farming and business end of the work. He was always on the alert to try new and improved methods.
While stuck carrying on the business of stock-raising, Alfred's attention turned more and more in the direction of fruit growing. He was one of the first to see the possibilities for that industyr in the Okanagan. There was already a fine orchard on the ranch, mostly apples as well as berry patch, and Mr. Postill began experimenting with other fruits. A small vineyard was planted on one of the benches and in the year 1897 bore a wonderful crop of grapes of different kinds, in size and flavour equal to any California grapes, if not better.
The motive that lay behind all his experimenting was not so much gain for himself as prosperity for the valley he loved. He sowed the first crop of alfafa in the Valley, on a dry bench, saying "If it will grow there , it will grow anywhere." And it did, and today there are hundreds of acres in alfalfa, not only on this ranch, but thoughout the Valley. He also tried peanuts, which grew and ripened, a few being exhibited at the Vernon Fair in 1896.
Mr. Postill was a firm believer in co-operation in handling and marketing produce of all kinds, and by tongue and pen advocated it in season and out of season. But, as Dr. B.F. Boyce of Kelowna said: "Mr. Postill was 25 years ahead of his time." Many times Mr. Postill sope of what he visioned for the future - saying to his wife: "You will live to see it, but I will not." Time has proved him to be right. Mr. Postill's sudden death in September 1897 at the early age of 45 years, put an end to all his plans. About 1903 the property was sold to the Hon. Price Ellison. He did not live on the place, but in Vernon.
Owners since have been Countess Bubna, the McNair Brothers, and Austen C. Taylor. The old original farmhouse was destroyed by fire, but confidence felt by the Postills has been justified. Over the years the Postill (Eldorado, AC.T) Ranch has flourished and prospered, and is still one of the most beautiful in the Okanagan Valley.