Kamloops History: Revisiting the settlers at Tranquille

The gold rush at Tranquille River was followed by many now-familiar names putting down roots at that great expanse of property along Kamloops Lake.

After the gold rush to Tranquille River, several settlers came to the area.

Anable Saint Germain pre-empted land on the west side of the river at its mouth in 1867, but he was possibly prospecting there as early as 1858. Thomas Duxbury followed and pre-empted 160 acres (65 hecatres) on the east side of the river, also in 1867.

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Then Charles Thomas Cooney arrived. He was born in Ireland, drawn west by the Cariboo Gold Rush with a party of Overlanders four years before the most famous party of Overlanders of 1862.

Cooney passed through Kamloops near the end of 1858 and spent the winter at Lytton. He became a packer and travelled regularly with the mail from Kamloops to Yale and north to the Cariboo.

Jane and William Fortune
This portrait of Jane and William Fortune was taken in the 1890s. The photo is part of the G.D. Brown Jr. collection at the Kamloops Museum and Archives. - Courtesy KMA 248

In 1867, he married Elizabeth (Betsy) Allard, an Aboriginal daughter of a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trader, and they made their home near the post at Kamloops, then on the south shore.

In 1867, the Cooneys pre-empted land on the east side of the Tranquille River and the following year purchased the adjoining claim of Thomas Duxbury, as well as that of Saint Germain on the west side.

Charles became a farmer growing potatoes and wheat, which he sold to the HBC. The Cooneys were the first in the district to grow fruit on a large scale, including apples, plums and pears.

By 1886, they were shipping apples to Eastern Canada. They also raised a large herd of cattle and had a 99-year lease between Tranquille and Copper Creek.

William Fortune, born in Yorkshire, England, in 1835, was one of the famous group of 1862 Overlanders, with the Schubert family, who came down the North Thomson River.

Fortune became a trusted employee of the HBC. After his employment with the company, he worked as a packer and pre-empted 160 acres on the west side of the Thompson River, about a mile above the Tranquille River, adding another 160 acres in 1869, one mile from the Tranquille River on the east end of Kamloops Lake, bounded on the east by the HBC claim on that side of the river.

James McIntosh, another prominent settler, also pre-empted 160 acres in 1868 on Kamloops Lake, a short distance above the mouth of Tranquille River. That year, he built a sawmill, later converted to a flourmill, powered by an overshot waterwheel, and Fortune became a partner.

Jane McWha, born in Ireland in 1838, likely met William in Lytton, where she had located with her older brothers in the 1860s. Jane and William married in 1869 and first lived in a cabin at Tranquille, a short distance from McIntosh’s mill. In 1870, McIntosh left the partnership and moved into Kamloops. Fortune bought his land and mill, which operated until 1890.

Tranquille mill
Tranquille mill, circa 1872. - Benjamin Baltzly/Courtesy KMA 1472

The Fortunes eventually owned about 400 acres of irrigated land and had an orchard of about 10 acres producing excellent fruit.

They also had a leasehold of several thousand acres in the Lac du Bois area for their cattle.

They sold the ranch in 1888 to the Troup brothers, who built an 18-room mansion alongside the original Fortune house, but the Fortunes, who had moved to Kamloops, repossessed the property in 1892. Both the Cooneys and Fortunes took in boarders with tuberculosis.

The Fortune home was eventually purchased by the B.C. Tuberculosis Society in 1907 for a sanatorium, a two-storey building 60 feet long by 40 feet wide with a wide veranda.

The Fortunes moved again to Kamloops.

Charles Cooney died in 1917 at age 85. Betsy continued to manage the ranch until 1922, when she sold the estate to the provincial government as the Sanatorium Farm.

She died at the age of 96 in 1942 and is buried with her husband at Tranquille. They had 10 children.

William Fortune died in 1914 at 80 years of age. Jane passed away in 1918. They are buried at Pleasant Street Cemetery in South Kamloops (Sagebrush).

They were childless.

Ken Favrholdt is a freelance writer, historical geographer and former curator-archivist of the Kamloops Museum and Archives.

© Kamloops This Week

 


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