WWII Volunteers.

PIONEERS take the first courageous steps into the unknown AND SHAPE OUR FUTURE

Lady Amelia Douglas

A Founding Mother of British Columbia            

Uniacke Estate Museum Park
part of the expansive country estate of               Attorney-General Richard John Uniacke            (1753-1830). Built between 1813 and 1815, 

One of Canada's finest examples of Georgian architecture, a Nova Scotia treasure.

                                                                                 1990 St. Patrick's was designated                                                                                    National Historic Site of Canada     In 1997 the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland & Labrador declared         it a Registered Heritage Structure for its aesthetic and historic values.
Designed in the late Gothic Revival style by  Dublin architect   J.J. McCarthy, the large church features a dramatic, soaring interior and overall St. Patrick’s marks a radical departure in style for the Roman Catholic churches of the time.  Over many years the church was built by St. John’s own Irish Canadian architect and mason, T. O’Brien.
The cornerstone was laid on September 17, 1855, by Bishop John T. Mullock and other distinguished clergy from Canada and the United States. Financier, Cyrus Field, contributed £1,000 to help with construction costs.
It was February 7, 1864, nine years after the laying of the cornerstone, that work officially began with the Cathedral Fire Brigade volunteers hauling the first load of stone from the Southside Hills to the site. Hauling during the winter, when the road surfaces were packed with snow allowed the horses to pull the very heavy loads.  Constructed almost entirely from cut ashlar, it is estimated that 600 tonnes of stone was hauled from Cudahy’s Quarry by volunteer labour for the construction of the new church.  Further problems prevented work on the project from advancing beyond the 1864 stage for a decade. Additional stone was donated in 1875 and construction began once more. Construction continued as funds and materials permitted and the church was completed in 1881.  Twenty five years in the building, St. Patrick's Church was consecrated on August 28, 1881, a great legacy at the centre of St. John's.

                                                James Carney was born June 28, 1915, in what was                                                             South Vancouver. He was ordained in March, 1942, and                                                  took up his first appointment then as an assistant at Holy

                                               Rosary Cathedral from to 1950. During that time he also

                                               held positions as chancellor and editor of the B.C. Catholic. In 1950, he was appointed to St. Patrick’s Vancouver, and four years later,    in 1954 Corpus Christi he became pastor of the parish. In 1964, Archbishop Carney was named vicar general of the Archdiocese, which carried with it the title of Monsignor. Two years later, 1966, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Vancouver and Archbishop of Vancouver on January 8, 1969, and installed February 11, 1969.

He was the first Vancouver-born Archbishop of Vancouver.
     He was known for his commitment to Catholic education, his fostering of priestly vocations and his unquestioning loyalty to the Holy Father. He was appointed as a member of the Congregation of the Clergy in 1986, by Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II appointed him to the Synod of Bishops, despite his failing health.

His legacy includes the Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School, located in Coquitlam, British Columbia, was built and named in his honour.

      Significantly, Carney is deeply respected and appreciated by many for mandating that St. Paul's Hospital open its doors without hesitation to people with AIDS, even as other hospitals turned them away.

Hugh Magee owned District Lot (DL) 194, which                                                                comprises the residential area in the Blenheim

Flats. Magee House is a two-and-a-half-storey

wood frame building, constructed in an early Craftsman style,. It is situated at the top of a ridge that today forms the divide between the urban lots to the north and agricultural- zoned larger hobby farms and acreages to the south
     It  is one of the earliest houses in this area and associated with the early pioneer farming of Southlands. Built circa 1914, the earliest association is with James Douglas Magee who lived here until his death in 1934. His wife, Edith Clara, lived here until 1937. Magee was classified under various occupations, including timber cruiser, broker, and farmer. The house was once part of a larger site that was subdivided into single family lots.
      The house features  a side gabled roof and a centrally-placed front porchl a full width porch on the south side with a sleeping porch above. These porches, combined with the location of the house on top of a ridge, look out over the low farmland. The double-hung windows have a leaded multi-pane upper sash and the shingles on the main body of the house are flared out to form a subtle overhang above the windows.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program  Key elements that define the Location include:  its orientation  facing the low-lying farmland toward the Fraser River  Character-Defining Elements include: the wide, rectangular two-and-a-half-storey massing, including a side-gabled roof with large overhangs. A central front porch with heavy corner brackets and low railing and secondary side porch spanning the south side, with corner support posts set in groups of three with cross beam connecting the sets and heavy corner brackets; paired door arrangement, with divided lights leading onto side porch and a sleeping porch on second floor, south side with steep pitch shed roof.  The shed roof extension at rear with single windows and oriels on the front and north side. Shingle cladding on main body, including flared shingle overhangs above all windows on main and upper floors; wide lap siding on basement. The fenestration is mostly double hung, all with rectangular vertical leaded glass pattern in upper sashes and windows are set in triples on main floor, with sidelight windows on the oriels on main floor and north sides, and are paired on upper floor, singles at rear and basement   Piano windows at rear of main floor on either side of chimney, long transom window at rear of second floor, decorative knee brackets in side gables and front porch gable - exposed rafter ends and decorative front door with vertical bands of bevelled clear glass, adjacent narrow sidelights with leaded bevelled clear glass.  

From 1974 to 1982, Catholine Butler was main fundraiser for a restoration project on an Irish Famine immigration graveyard in Martindale, Quebec,  just north of Canada’s capital Ottawa, in the Gatineau Hills of western Quebec    The Martindale Pioneer Cemetery is a significant   memorial to survivors of the Great Hunger following the failure of the potato crop between 1843-1850.
   The work was first undertaken in the mid-1970s as project to restore the cemetery which was destroyed after falling into disrepair. The project was spearheaded by Catholine [nee Elaine Gannon], who was born and raised in Martindale, Quebec.
     In the centre of the site stands a remarkable 10-foot Celtic Cross. Engraved on the panels is the story of Famine ships crossing the Atlantic to Canada with starving mothers and their children seeking a new life in North America. The site also features a triple-cenetaph engraved with the names of almost 200 souls buried in the cemetery with messages in Irish, English, and French.
                                                        In September 2016 two bilingual plaques – French                                                            and English – were unveiled with a list of those

                                                         responsible for the research, fund-raising, and

                                                         design of the site.

                                                         Since it was unveiled in 1982, the site has attracted

                                                         countless visitors as a commemoration site for                                                            survivors of Ireland’s Great Hunger. With the restoration of this burial ground and Catholine’s relentless determination, this important historic site has not been neglected and forgotten.  

Memorial to  Catherine O'Hare Schubert Armstrong, British Columbia

Fr. John Sinnett was an influential and active                                                                     priest  He was born in Ridgetown, Ontario in

1855. At 29 years of age he was ordained a

priest of the Jesuit order and served for a decade, 1884 – 94, at Sheenboro, Quebec, a strongly Irish area across the Ottawa River from Pembroke, Ontario. He was appointed  moved to Regina and later as Rector and Vicar-General of the Prince Albert diocese.
       The vast Canadian Prairies were opening up to settlement and the possibility of creating a nation from sea to sea. Fr. Sinnett saw the potential as Saskatchewan was about to become a province and homesteads would be opened to farmers who would settle there. Irelanders struggling out of the Great Hunger could emigrate and Irish settlers struggling on limited farmlands in Prince Edward Island could also move. Together they would create an ‘Irish Colony’. Fr. Sinnett sent his plan out, moved back to the Sheenboro region to connect and recruit settlers. He diligently supported the immigrants and newcomers through the process. Twenty one Irish homesteads were founded: Brady, Brick, Carroll, Cassidy, Coughlin, Devine, Dodd, Doyle, Dunn, Dunne, Hall, Hearn, Laverty, McDonald, McGrath, McGuire, Nolan, Sinnett and Slattery. (
Mrs. Jack Laverty reported "A number of bachelors hailed from Ireland: Jack Aehern, Tom and Martin Brick; Edward, John and Michael Carroll; and Thomas Coughlin.")  In 1905 Saskatchewan became a Province and Fr. Sinnett's vision was realized.
       The settlers around Sinnett were not all Irish. They were Bevan, Cunningham, Cole, Eaton, Fenskie, Hoffman, Klatt, Kobrinski, Koske, Miller, Mogentale and Roroff. They were Ukranian, German, Icelandic. They were Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran. They were threshing crews, barn builders and all showing up for the round of Fall Suppers; neighbours if you needed a hand. They were friends for generations.  
     Fr. Sinnett established the parish of St. Ignatius in 1906. Two years later St. Patrick’s church was built 5 miles down the road providing access to the growing community dependent on horse-driven vehicles. A larger St. Ignatius church was built in 1915.
       A railway line passed through Sinnett in 1921, stores and grain elevators were established there and in nearby LeRoy. Today, with the railway closed and elevators gone, the church and cemetery that Fr. Sinnett founded are the heart of remembering the Irish Colony.   
                                                                Fr. Sinnett returned to Ontario in 1922 to rejoin the                                                                 Jesuits  He died in 1928 without seeing the new,                                                                   Heritage St Ignatius  that was built that year. This                                                                   proudly maintained, much larger wood costruction                                                                  church stands to this day as a Canadian Heritage

                                                               Site alongside the Heritage St. Ignatius Cemetery

                                                               where 4 - 5 generations are remembered and Fr.                                                                 Sinnett, for  whom the village & community are

                                                               named, is remembered.

In the historic district of Old Montreal there stands Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal).  It is one of the most dramatic structures in the world.  The interior is also unique – grand and richly colourful, intricate wooden carvings and statues, stained glass windows that tell the story of Montreal’s own religious history and the four-keyboard Casavant Frères pipe organ that must be heard.
    In 1672 the Roman Catholic Sulpician Order built the parish church of Notre-Dame. By 1824 the congregation had outgrown it. They commissioned James O’Donnell, an Irish-American Protestant, to design a new building. His design was Gothic Revival and, on its completion, it would be the largest church in North America.  

     The sanctuary was completed in 1830, the first tower in 1843. The interior would be a work in progress for nearly a decade.
     Because of the scale of the church, a more intimate chapel, Chapelle du Sacré-Coeur (Chapel of the Sacred Heart), was built behind it in 1888. Regrettably arson destroyed the chapel in 1978. It was rebuilt with reference to old drawings and photos and with modern vaulting, reredos and a bronze altarpiece by Quebec sculptor Charles Daudelin.
     Notre-Dame Church was raised to the status of basilica by Pope John Paul II during a visit to the city on April 21, 1982.
James O’Donnell has been the only person buried in the bascilica’s crypt. State funerals have been held for former Montreal Canadiens superstar Maurice "Rocket" Richard and Canada’s 15th Prime Minister, Pierre E. Trudeau. It was also the setting for the wedding of Celine Dion and René Angélil.

Griffintown (Montreal) by Fergus Keyes
Although the first “official” Irish person to arrive in Quebec (then New France) was a gentleman by the name of Tadhig Cornelius O’Brennan who eventually adopted the name of Pierre Aubry. He is considered the first official Irishman in Quebec since his name appears on the very first census taken in New France in 1663 about 350 years ago.
There were of course other Irish residents for example, soldiers of Irish descent that fought on both the British and French sides at the Plains of Abraham in 1759 when the British were victorious. A number of these Irish remained in Quebec after the war was over.
But large numbers of the Irish, in general, arrived in two big waves. One was after the Napoleonic Wars in the 1820’s and then, of course the “Great Hunger Irish” arriving generally some 25 years later in 1847.
Many of the first group from 1820-30 settled in rural areas of what was then Lower Canada, but a large number were also attracted to the large communities of Montreal and Quebec City.
This first group also provided labor for some of the large projects in Montreal and in particular the Lachine Canal. This canal was designed to bypass the Lachine Rapids and allow shipping to make a more direct movement toward the West – Toronto, the Great Lakes etc.
At the time, most workers attempted to live in close proximity to their work where they spent long hours and so, the Irish workman started to settle in the area in close proximately to the Lachine Canal; and the community that they built became known as Griffintown.
“The name Griffintown was derived from Mary Griffin. Griffin illegally obtained the lease to the land from a business associate of Thomas McCord in 1799. She then commissioned land surveyor Louis Charland to subdivide the land and plan streets for the area in 1804. “
From about the 1820’s until the 1960’s the Griffintown area was generally populated by individuals of Irish descent. Eventually, the Irish started to move to the suburbs and other places in Canada especially after the City of Montreal designated the area for light or heavy industry.
However recently, the area has been redeveloped to include a large number of new condos while the Montreal Irish Community continues to demand that the area be remembered as an historical Montreal Irish neighborhood.


"....nothing that could render this place charming has been neglected."

Notre-Dame Basilica                            

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal

Maura de Freitas, and Catholine Butler

Catherine was born in 1835, the youngest of nine children                   116                    At the age of sixteen, she left Ireland sailing to the United                                         States to work as a maid for a wealthy family in Springfield,                            Massachusetts. There, she used her spare time teaching herself to read.
    When she was nineteen, Catherine met a twenty-seven year old German carpenter named Augustus Schubert. They married in 1855 and moved to St. Paul, on the Mississippi River  Catherine opened a grocery store and made bread while Augustus worked as a carpenter. A son, Gus ,was born in 1856 and a daughter, Mary Jane, was born in 1858.  Depression hit the area and the family packed up and moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba (called Fort Garry).
      In 1858, miners had discovered gold dust and nuggets in the lower Fraser Valley (now in the province of British Columbia.)  May 26, 1862, 150 men arrived by paddle-steamer at Fort Garry determined to follow the "overland" route to the Cariboo. The Overlanders, as they came to be known, comprised fifteen smaller groups of gold-seekers who had met along the way as they travelled west.
     Augustus, decided to join the Overlanders and search for gold in the Cariboo. Catherine chose to accompany her husband as she had no intention of being left behind at Fort Garry to run their farm and store, and care for their three children.
     Catherine was four months pregnant when she and her husband began their overland trek across the prairies and the Rocky Mountains. After many hardships and terrifying adventures the Schuberts arrived in British Columbia and  decided to travel down the Thompson River instead of the treacherous Fraser River.  Still floating down the Thompson River, Catherine went into labour on the raft. They went ashore, and Catherine was taken care of by the First Nations women at a local village. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl, whom she named Rose.
     Catherine supported the family while her husband unsuccessfully prospected for gold in Quesnel. In 1881, Augustus decided to give up his gold-hunting days and the Schuberts bought a farm in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.

        Augustus died in 1908 and Catherine moved into nearby Armstrong.  Catherine remained part of the community until her death on July 18th, 1918.


      Tierney and Mary Elizabeth O'Keefe

 Centennial Restoration of the O'Keefe Ranch          

Notre-Dame was raised to the status of basilica by Pope John Paul II during a   visit to city 1982 and designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989.                          The Basilica is a Montréal landmark, 1823-29.

Archbishop James Francis Carney 

First Vancouver-born Archbishop of Vancouver           


St. Patrick's
St. John's Newfoundland

Architect, J.J. Murphy
Local Architect & Builder, T. O'Brien.

                                                       One of the most exceptional missionaries to  Canada                                                         was an Irishman, Constantine Scollen, born 4 April 1841,

                                                       Newton Butler, County Fermanagh, Ireland. At an early age Scollen chose to enter religious life. He joined the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and studied at the Oblate noviciate near Leeds, England. After a year there, he made his vows and was sent to teach in Inchicore, a suburb of Dublin.
       Returning to the novitiate a year later, he explained his decision to move to North America. In 1862 he was sent to Fort Edmonton where, as a lay brother, he was immediately assigned the task of opening and taking charge of a boys’ school. He was a talented linguist, asked by the Bishop to teach in French as well as English Scollen quickly learned to speak and write it correctly. At the same time he studied Cree with equal success. The story is that he did his exercises on log shavings for lack of paper.
     Factors and assistants of surrounding forts began to send their children to Fort Edmonton. By April most of his pupils could read and write English.. "The more I teach these poor little children," he wrote, "the greater love I feel for them and the greater is my desire to see them advance rapidly in their studies." He had 30 students - a tight fit in the little log shelter.
       His accomplishments are many - he was the first English-speaking Catholic missionary working west of St. Boniface; founder of the first school at Fort Edmonton; collaborator in the famous Cree dictionary, founder of the Notre Dame de la Paix mission in what was later the Calgary diocese; builder of the first chapel in Calgary; participated in the negotiating of Treaties Six and Seven  - witness to Treaty Number Six with the Crees in 1876, and he made a report on the Blackfeet preparatory to Treaty Number Seven with the Blackfeet  and was witness to its signing in 1877.
       In 1865, Scollen made his perpetual vows as a lay brother, and expressed his  desire to become a priest. He began studying both philosophy and religion for the priesthood in 1870 at Lac Ste. Anne and in 1871-72.
       At the same time, Scollen was composing books in Cree. During the winter of 1870 he went with Fr. Lacombe to Rocky Mountain House, Hudson Bay post, to compose a Cree dictionary and grammar and a book of sermons and gospels in Cree. The Cree grammar and dictionary of fifteen thousand words was published in 1873, and a volume of instructions published the same year. There is no acknowledgement of Brother Scollen's work, but tradition has it that it was equal with that of Fr Lacombe and that the introduction to the grammar and dictionary was exclusively his as the style would lead one to believe; moreover, that the instructions are almost exclusively his. It is composed of seventy-five sermons on the sacraments and sacramentals.
     Scollen also continued to teach school in Fort Edmonton and, when classes were over, he accompanied other missionaries such as Lacombe and Bishop Grandin on itinerant missions among those hunting buffalo, ministering and teaching Cree and English to whoever came for help.
      He was made a deacon on the Saturday before Palm Sunday and  ordained a priest on Holy Saturday, April 12, 1873. He was 32 years of age. 3 days after he was ordained, on Easter Tuesday, he set out for the summer mission on the prairies, with a caravan of Métis and Cree from Lac la Biche and its neighbourhood.
      He travelled to a spot twenty-five miles up the Elbow River from the present site of Calgary. Alexis Cardinal had built him a hut - the walls were of trunks of trees, the roof of branches covered with pine bark. The floor was the bare ground, the windows covered with canvas sacks. The door was a skin stretched on poles. Later a tiny alcove was added that served as dormitory and chapel. The whole was no more that 15 feet square and was surmounted by a cross. It was heated by a chimney of flat stones and earth.

This little hut was the first mission in the Calgary diocese, Notre Dame de la Paix. The spot has sbeen marked by a cairn, the base of which was been built with the chimney stones of the original building.  Alexis Cardinal, had no other tools than his axe.
       In the fall of 1874 Scollen had Father Bonald to help him as well as Louis Daze.

Fr Bonald did not know the Blackfeet language, but they had the help of two catechists, L'Heureux and Alexis Cardinal. They loved this role and to fill it more realistically made themselves types of soutanes. With these soutanes of checked cotton, wearing skull caps and their pipes in their mouths any lack of rubrical perfection was compensated by enthusiasm. It was then a great tragedy for the little band when, the following spring their beloved Louis Daze was lost and died in a blizzard.
      The Mounted Police had come the previous fall into the territory of the Old Man River, and Scollen set out at once to see what plans were afoot. He heard that the Mounted Police were coming to the junction of the Bow and the Elbow to establish a post. He had Alexis Cardinal erect a small hut there so the mission would be on hand. .
       Scollen was twenty years in the mission field that covered a territory close to three hundred miles square, travelling by ox-cart, dog-team and in his later years of luxury on a horse. His mission was among nomadic first nations and he moved continually in the camps living their way of life.
        When Scollen left, still a young man of forty-six, the Canadian Pacific Railway had changed it to a country of ranches and farms and the everyday business of Canada.    

                Catherine O'Hare Schubert

The first European woman to enter

            British Columbia overland from eastern Canada          

It was the realization that Canada was going to

be 100 years old on July 1, 1967, that inspired

Betty O’Keefe to restore the O’Keefe Ranch as a

personal family Centennial project.  She woke her husband Tierney one night and said “Let’s do this, let’s restore the ranch back to what it was.”  Tierney thought it was a foolish idea and told her to go back to sleep.  But in the morning, after discussing the idea they both believed this project was possible.
     Tierney was the youngest son of Cornelius O‘Keefe, who had settled at the Head of Okanagan Lake and established the O’Keefe Ranch on June 15, 1867. Betty knew that the ranch was brimming with antique treasures. Throughout the ranch’s history, when new furniture and household items were purchased, the old ones were stored in the attic or in one of the ranch sheds.
       It had long been the family tradition that you never threw anything out because someday it could come in handy. Items left over from the original general store and post office, established in 1872, were still stored on the Ranch. Old fashioned kitchenware, heavy cast iron pots, coloured glass coal oil lamps, antique china jugs and basins, brass beds and numerous other items were carefully stored away. When a large sheep barn had to be torn down, even those boards had been saved.
     The O’Keefe’s had a dream: that the ranch could be restored to its original state and it could become a major tourist attraction. They scoured the province for additional items to stock the general store, blacksmith shop and original home. They went to numerous auction sales and antique stores to buy pieces to augment their own collection.
      The original log home and bunkhouse, long since converted to other uses were restored to their original condition. St Ann’s Church, the oldest surviving Roman Catholic Church in the Okanagan, was still standing on the little rise. In the cemetery behind the little church lay many of the early pioneers of the Okanagan Valley, along with Cornelius, 2 of his wives Mary Ann and Elizabeth and eight of his children.
     When they started this project, Tierney was a cattleman, rancher and farmer. Both he and Betty knew precious little about tourism. They approached the provincial government to inquire if they were interested in their helping them with their project and after realizing no help was available, they were determined to do it themselves.
     Betty had many ideas and Tierney was able to implement them. They were a team. Their vision was not to create a museum but rather a hub of living Canadian history, a reconstruction of the early pioneer days of British Columbia, as life had been. They wanted to preserve and share the past so that future generations would always know what life was like in Western Canada at the time of Canadian Confederation. When you walk into the various buildings along the boardwalk, whether it is the original log home, the general store or the blacksmith shop, it appears as though the owner, store clerk or blacksmith has just stepped out.
     All St Ann’s Church needed were some new window panes to replace those that were broken, as the altar, candle sticks, organ, pews, and statues were still there. Betty and Tierney even opened their private residence, the original mansion, built in 1886, to the tourist public.
   This Queen Anne home had been elegantly decorated and refurnished in 1900 by Cornelius’ second wife Elizabeth, and had been lovingly cared for over the years. Much of the furniture throughout the home was manufactured in Eastern Canada.
  The O'Keefe Ranch was recognized as a British Columbia Historical Site by the Provincial government and officially opened to the general public on June 15, 1967.   Premier W.A.C. Bennett officiated the ceremony 100 years to the day from when Cornelius O’Keefe first arrived with his herd of cattle.

Betty O’Keefe 1924-1989. Her tombstone reads:

Tierney O’Keefe 1911-2000. His tombstone reads:

Biography kindly provided by their daughters Eileen and Kathleen O’Keefe

                                            Born on a farm in County Down in 1838, Fitzgerald McCleery and his brother Samuel, had grown up with love of the soil in their bones in a family that had been farming for more than 200 years. Still the gold fields beckoned a new possibility and the brothers, arriving in Canada in 1862, walked 400 miles to the golld fields. They found no fortune there and still determined, they walked back.

      They found work on the trail being built  from New Westminster to Point Grey and they saved their $30 monthly salary. It was Fitzgerald McCleery's future: he invested his savings in land at 60 cents an acre. With the opportunity to 'pre-empt' land in Western Canada for $1 - $2 per acre, Fitzgerald and Samuel settled in Vancouver in April 1863. Fitzgerald headed to Oregon to buy a horse and 15 head of cattle which would be the start of the McCleery Dairy. They also raised crops of potatoes and oats.

   They constructed their first dwelling and, whilst buildings were replaced, Fitzgerald                                                                       lived on that plot of ground for 58 years -

                                                                    unntil his death.

                                                                  The house built in 1872 replacing the

                                                                  original cabin.built of lumber floated down the 

                                                                  river from mills


Architect: James O'Donnel
Stonemason: John Redpath
was a major participant in the construction of the Basilica

Aloysius Carroll at the St. Patrick's parish monument..

     Cornelius O'Keefe  

Pioneer. Founder of the O'Keefe Ranch         


The Magee House

ca. 1914   Southlands, Vancouver

Cornelius was born in 1838 in Fallowfield, Nepean township,                                          Upper Canada, son of Michael O’Keefe of Kilworth, County 

Cork, Ireland, and Esther Demers who was French Canadian.                                             In 1862 he arrived in British Columbia along with thousands of young men attracted by the lure of gold in the Cariboo region. Like so many of them, he was unable to locate on rich ground and was obliged to make a living packing and freighting supplies to Barkerville, the heart of the Cariboo gold rush.
    He worked for a time on the construction of the Cariboo wagon road between Clinton and Bridge Creek and also assisted former Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor, Archibald McKinley, in the construction of the 115 Mile stopping house at Lac La Hache. Once the stopping house was completed, O’Keefe traveled with McKinley to Oregon City to pack and move all his worldly possessions to the family’s new home.        
In the spring of 1867, he and a partner traveled to Oregon and purchased a herd of cattle, which they drove north through the Okanagan Valley. Seeing the rich bunch grass ranges and excellent water at the north end of the lake, they each took up 160 acres of rich bottom land in June, some two weeks before Canadian confederation.
     Around 1870 Cornelius started his first family with Alapetsa, who was from the Okanagan First Nation and they had 3 children.
     In 1872, after British Columbia joined confederation, Cornelius became the Post Master of the “Okanagon” Post Office, the first in the Okanagan Valley. The post office was located in O’Keefe’s general store, at the end of the wagon road into the Okanagan and the terminus of the BC Express Stage Lines route. The ranch was also the site of St. Ann’s Catholic church, now the oldest church in the Okanagan.
      O’Keefe returned to Nepean township in 1877 and married Mary Ann McKenna in Fallowfield on the 20 November. They had nine children.
     Over the following 30 years, O’Keefe amassed approximately 12,000 acres of land and was engaged in a variety of business ventures. Aside from his cattle and sheep ventures and his general store, he operated a grist mill and grew wheat and apples in the fertile Okanagan Valley.
     After Mary Ann’s death, O’Keefe returned to Nepean township, Ontario and married Elizabeth Tierney in Fallowfield on 8 November 1900. They had six children.       Cornelius was involved in a variety of community organizations. He was a director of the BC Cattlemen’s Association and the Okanagan and Spallumcheen Agricultural Society, and president of the Vernon Jockey Club. He was also a member of the Vernon Conservative Association. Having previously subdivided and sold about 3,000 acres, he disposed of most of his remaining holdings in 1907 to the Land and Agricultural Company of Canada. This enabled him to continue ranching on a small scale, to construct theatres in Vernon and Kamloops and relax in his lovely Queen Anne style home. This beautiful house, along with a number of ranch buildings is preserved as a heritage site and located in Vernon, B.C..
Cornelius died in 1919.

Be it a dramatic basilica soaring skyward, a substantial city hall, a cottage, a cemetery or a monument - they hold our history and kindle our hope for the future. .
And, often they're grand place for very special events

Father Constantine Scollen 

Missionary. Linguist. Teacher.

Founder of the Calgary Mission           

During the 1860-1870's forests gave way to farms in the area now known as Southlands  Original pioneers, Hugh Magee & Firzgerald McCleery, arrived from Ireland out of the Great Hunger. They obtained title to most of the land in Southlands and, finding ideal soil conditions, settled there to operate farms.  Trails that they  established during 1861-62 along the river (McCleery brothers North Arm Trail) and through the forest (Magee Road) would become Marine Drive and West 49th Ave. A station on the interurban rail line from Vancouver to Steveston was named Magee Station.  

                                                               Amelia Douglas was one of the most well-known

                                                               women in fur trade society. She was born at Fort

                                                               Churchill to a fur trader of Irish and French-                                                                 Canadian ancestry, William Connolly, and his Cree

                                                               Miyo Nipiy. Growing up in a household where her                                                                  mother commonly spoke Cree and her father,                                                                       usually spoke French.                                         Raised in fur trading posts, Amelia was living with her family at Fort St. James when she met an enterprising young Scottish clerk who worked for her father, chief factor of the post.. 16-year old Amelia and 25-year old James Douglas married in 1828.                        Douglas rose quickly in the fur trade, becoming a chief factor by November 1839. The couple settled at Fort Vancouver and Douglas later became chief factor and governor of Vancouver Island. He eventually became governor of British Columbia. Throughout the impressive career of James Douglas his wife Amelia was his number one supporter and advisor on aboriginal traditions and politics.    
     Early in their married life Amelia rescued Douglas from an attack when he had

not understood the Carriers customs. She threw bales of trade goods to their chief

to restore his honour and they released her husband.                                                          The Douglas family became the most prominent and wealthiest in British Columbia.  Amelia had given birth to thirteen children - seven died as infants and two more in  adulthood. She conveyed some of her aboriginal traditions to her offspring, though they grew up with primarily European customs. Amelia lived in Victoria for 40 years

but often avoided its social life, perhaps because she was sometimes shunned because of her mixed-blood heritage and she had problems communicating in

English. When James Douglas was knighted in 1863, the shy and modest Amelia became Lady Douglas. Sir James died in 1877 and Lady Douglas lived a quiet life

until she passed away in 1890 at the age of 78.

Fizgerald McCleery            

Sailing from Southampton via San Francisco walking to the 'fields of gold' and finding his way home as Vancouver's first farm family..

Tierney and Betty O’Keefe achieved what they had started out to do. The Historic O’Keefe Ranch located in Vernon BC, continues to tell the story of life in Western Canada as it was in the mid 1800’s and remains open to the general public as a Canadian Heritage Site.


                                                                            Edward Aloysius                                                                               and Margaret Helen (n Fleming) Carroll


                                                                           Irish Colony Pioneers

     “Ed” Carroll was a Wicklow man born November 9, 1873, to Daniel and Mary  Kavanaugh) Carroll. Being the firstborn he was, according to Kavanaugh family tradition, born in the Brittas Bay home of his mother’s Kavanaugh parents (Mary and Peter). He grew up in Graney with five brothers and two sisters.
     Ed’s early education was at home with his mother or away in his grandfather’s library. Ed was an avid reader with a quotability that served him all his life. All labour for the Irish was part-time but, keen on riding and fit for the sport, Ed was soon an in-demand steeplechase jockey. A fall over a thorn-bush jump left him with snow-white hair and a split cornea. Ed's second passion was award-winning Irish dancing,  Whilst he never stopped dancing he might admit he’d slowed down.
    In Ireland potatoes grew again in 1852, but the millions who died and emigrated over the seven years of the Great Hunger left behind thousands who still hungered. In the late 1870s, Irish agriculture entered a recession and many tenant farmers were evicted. When the Land War of 1879-1882 followed, British PM, Gladstone, introduced land acts to give tenant farmers greater security of tenure and in 1885 money was made available for leaseholders to borrow and buy their land.  Not all evicted and jobless Irish qualified but on the Carroll 'homestead' Gladstone’s plan got a boost - when the opportunity to purchase the half-acre came up Ed handed over the balance to give his father clear ownership. It was a farewell gift as Ed, filled with optimism, was headed for the Irish Colony in Canada. Father and son planted an apple tree that’s spreading its branches out there still and bearing an abundance of fruit.
     Landed in Canada his brother Michael headed south and west;  John went ahead to survey the Colony for adjoining quarter-acre sites for himself and Ed who worked his way across investing in a team of oxen, wagon, plough and other bare essentials. In 1905 Saskatchewan became a province, the Colony was open and Ed and John claimed their land. The railway ran alongside the northern boundary. The hills were high. The fields green. A creek ran through. A well was ‘witched’ half a mile from the one-room home Ed built with its back to a silver birch grove. An ideal place for a bachelor to build up a thoroughbred horse ranch.  

"Maggie” Fleming’s birth was registered in London, Nov.4,1895
The home Margaret’s parents, Thomas & Margaret (n Cummins)                                       Fleming, had come from was Co.Waterford.  With their year old

daughter Ellen, they were on their way to Southwark borough

on the Thames.  It was November. It was cold but Tom’s brother

assured him there were jobs waiting. Margaret, heavy with child,

encouraged  him – it was their only hope. The  sea was rough,

the infant inutero couldn’t wait – Margaret Helen Fleming was

born, crossing the Irish Sea.
    Work was scarce. Concerned that the Workhouse took children in if family income failed, they accepted a maiden aunt’s offer to take Ellen into her care 'until things improved'. Maggie was two when a third daughter, Julia, was born. Her mother never regained her strength and died two years later. The orphanage was Tom’s only option.
     That winter, 1900-01, the Catholic English Rescue Society brought 70 children to the new St. Patrick’s Orphanage in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. There 4-year-old Maggie and her 2-yr. old sister, Julia, would grow up in a convent that was Maggie's 'home', where she realized safety and training, family and love. Sent out to service, Maggie arrived at the Irish Colony. She promptly wrote to her sister and to Lizzie McEachern and Katy Brady urging them to join her. They were life-long friends.

Ed was 20 years Maggie’s senior. He was also, by far the most prosperous man in the colony – cows, sheep, chickens, a herder Collie – all a man needed for survival on his quarter section farm and 10 thoroughbred horses - including the stallion.   

WWI: News came in hand-written letters or from the pulpit on a Sunday. The tension in Ireland, the First World War. Friends and family caught in the crossfire. Thousands of young men volunteering assuring themselves it would be nothing more than an adventure and some money made. On the Colony the bachelors were looking at their options. Ed’s good friend Martin Brick proposed that he and his brother Tom would sign up and leave their lands to Ed and John. “The land can be managed,” Martin said, “but you’ll need to tend that stallion!”
     So it was agreed and how it came to pass that on a Spring day the seeding underway, Ed loaded the plough and tools onto the flatbed, hitched up the team and was heading to Martin’s acres when he saw neighbour Bevan’s cattle being herded homeward by a young woman. Sure he had never seen such a lovely young woman! “Would she take a lift?” She would. Ed timed his coming and going there. Ed spoke Irish. Maggie had an English accent. He spoke English. Did the wheel accidentally hit the rock? Maggie reached to hold on just as Ed turned to hold on to her and he kissed her and held her and they’d hold on to each other for life.
     They married in 1916 at St. Ignatius Church. Maggie transformed the bachelor’s rustic log cabin. When their first child, Edith Josepha, was born in 1917, peace was promising. They had professional photographs taken to send to families in Ireland.
     Martin Brick’s last letter to Ed was saying he’d hope to be home for the harvest. Neither Martin nor his brother, nor several other young men settled in the Irish Colony,  returned from the war. Their settlements were reclaimed.                                                 

The "Dirty Thirties" The drought began ca 1930 and devastated the area known as Palliser's Triangle. The large semi-arid area running from south-eastern Alberta to south-western Manitoba along its base, angling up to a point just north of Saskatoon included – the Irish Colony. Captain John Palliser, traveled there in the 1850s, and reported the area was too dry for agriculture. Professor John Macoun was optimistic following his thorough examination of the area in the 1870s. In the 30s wet towels were wrapped around the mouth, Vaseline or lard in nostrils to help keep the dust storms from choking you. Only root vegetables grew. There was cow’s milk for tea and porridge. Goat’s milk for cheese. Chickens picked seeds out of dry grass and laid eggs that Maggie washed clean to be taken into the village and exchanged for staples.
The Depression: Edith went out to work. The boys were needed on the farm. The thoroughbreds had been ‘put down’ except for a team to pull the wagon or sled, two mounts for the children to get to school and herd the cattle, and Ed’s old mare.
     When the train whistled by each day and the children ran up the knoll to wave, men riding the rails jumped off in hope of a meal, maybe shelter. Maggie was discerning, protective of her children but she and Ed never turned the hungry away. What they had, they shared. They practiced gratitude before it was a buzzword.   
WWII: Edith’s husband, Tom, her brother Aloy, and sisters Rose and Norah , signed up. They all returned - sure it was owing to their mother getting down on her knees to pray every night.
Peace: Maggie and Ed’s eight children, generation after generation, settled across the country – teachers, a principal, social workers, a priest, writers, RCMP officers, farrners and homemakers . The Irish Colony settlement passed on now to grandchildren.
     Ed had cancer. He managed it for a year making time for family and friends, wisdom and wit. He died in 1950. Maggie lived another 26 years (d: Oct. 24, 1976) and died in serenity, having said her farewells and bestowed her love and blessing on her family. Maggie and Ed, and extended family, rest in peace in the historic St. Ignatius Cemetery.

The  Martindale  Pioneer  Cemetery          

set in the rolling Gatineau Hills, Martindale, Quebec,      that 200 survivors of Ireland's Great Hunger may now         rest in peace here                     

In 1786 Richard John Uniacke received a grant of one thousand acres on the Nova Scotia Windsor Road. There he built his home and shortly added to his property having received a second grant for four thousand acres.
       Mount Uniacke included a large family home, a number of barns, a coach house, guest house, wash house, baths, privy, hot house, caretaker's house and an ice house. Certain of these establishments can yet be seen today. It is part of the Uniacke Estate Museum Park, one of the many tourist attractions in Nova Scotia.
     Lord Dalhousie wrote of Mount Uniacke in 1817, a place at which he regularly      stopped on the way to his second residence at Windsor. "Mount Uniacke, sits on the margin of a fine Lake and is surrounded by the wood wilderness mixed up with great granite rocks/ It is very gentleman-like, and may in time be a pretty place, but at present has little to recommend it, except the new comfortable house and the cordial hospitality of it's Proprietor."
 Another contemporary description written by Bishop Edmund Burke (1753-1820):
"We arrived very late ... Madam Uniacke and Lady Mitchell, her step-daughter, received  us with as much courtesy as these English ladies, stiff and starched as they usually are, can show ... this immense and costly house, with its innumerable dependencies, bath rooms, billiard rooms, balconies, servants quarters, well kept groves on the borders of a large, and rather deep lake, the waters of which are carried to the sea by several small streams; nothing that could render this place charming has been neglected."

From the archives: St. Ignatius Church is a Municipal Heritage Property situated on a three-hectare parcel of land within the Rural Municipality of Leroy No. 339, 11k  west and 10.5k south of the Town of Leroy. The property includes a wood-frame church constructed in 1928, a cemetery founded in 1905 and a large wooden cross.
       The heritage value of St. Ignatius Church lies in its association with Irish settlement   in the region. In 1905, eight Irish men led by Rev. Fr. John Chester Sinnett homesteaded in the area, establishing the small community that would become Sinnett. Fr. Sinnett quickly established a parish and it acquired the land in 1905. The property became the centre of the community and, at its height, included, not only a church and cemetery,  but also a post office, hall and school. The church was constructed in 1928 and was the third church constructed on the property. A cross was erected on the location of the original church. Over the years most of the buildings on the property have been removed, leaving the church as one of the last landmarks of the community.
     The heritage value of the property also lies in its architecture. Inspired by Gothic Revival architecture popular for ecclesiastical buildings at the time, the property is representative of the era’s country churches in Saskatchewan. The most defining characteristic of the property is its large central bell tower with pointed arches and louvered windows. 

      Those elements that reflect its association with Irish settlement in the region, include    its position on its original location, cross on top of the central tower. The cemetery with tombstones and their arrangement in rows                                          Elements reflecting the property’s Gothic-Inspired architecture, include its central bell tower with four-sided spire, louvered belfry, circular window; its rectangular form, regular massing, pointed-arch windows and entryways with tracery, steep gable roof.   

Fr. John Sinnett

St. Ignatius Church, 1928                                 Sinnett, Saskatchewan

The third church built  on this site since the 1906 founding of the parish by Father John SInnett SJ  

Building Our Heritage