16020 Oyama Rd
British Columbia Tourism Region : Thompson Okanagan
- The Commonage - In 1876 a joint Dominion Provincial Indian Reserve Commission set aside this land, between Okanagan Lake and Kalamalka Lake, for pasturage to be shared by Indians and whites in common.
- In 1893, after the creation of an Indian reserve on the west side of Okanagan Lake, the province offered the land for sale to individuals. There were other 'commonage' reserves in British Columbia.
- Kalmalka Lake - The Okanagan Indian word chelootsoos (meaning 'long lake cut in the middle') was applied specifically to the narrow strip of land separating Kalamalka Lake from Wood Lake to the south.
- This strip was sometimes called the Railway because it resembled a railway embankment, while Kalamalka Lake was formerly known as Long Lake.
- Kalamalka was a well-known old Indian who once lived at the head of this lake. Kay Cronin in her Cross in the Wilderness tells the touching story of Chief Kalamalka and his wives.
- In his old age, Kalamalka was very anxious to become a Christian and repeatedly asked Father Le Jacq to baptize him.
- Each time the good father protested that he could not do so until Kalamalka gave up his heathen practice of having four wives. Loyal to his wives, Kalamalka produced reasons against putting aside any of them:
- one was the mother of his oldest son, another was lame from the terrible frostbite she had suffered once when saving him amid the winter snows, and so the story continued.
- At length Father Le Jacq was so moved by the old Indian's constancy to his wives, along with his tremendous desire to be a Christian, that he appealed on his behalf to the bishop, only to hear his own ruling repeated —
- — Kalamalka must settle for a single wife.
- Coming back sadly from New Westminster, Father Le Jacq received from Kalamalka the tidings that at last he had only one wife.
- She turned out to be none of the four, but a good-looking young woman! The four wives had held a conference, decided that a new young wife could take over a lot of the work, and had sent the chief to find a new wife while they went into retirement.
- And so from that day on, old Kalamalka had one wife but supported all five women, was baptized, and, presumably, was happy.
- The word kalamalka can be identified as an Okanagan Indian man's name, making very suspect a theory that it is a Hawaiian name brought into the country by one of the Kanakas employed by the HBC.
- With permission from G.P.V and Helen B. Akrigg 1997 British Columbia Place Names. UBC Press.
Address of this page: http://bc.ruralroutes.com/TheCommonage