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The Ditch: Lifeblood of a Community
Oliver Museum
Oliver , British Columbia


   Long ago, when the
landscape of the South
Okanagan in British Columbia
was dry and somewhat
foreboding, the Osoyoos First
Nation developed a yearly
round of hunting and
gathering on the land that
remained their way of life
for thousands of years. The

Osoyoos found a rich harvest
of food within the riparian
areas along the river, in the
mountains and even in the
sparse desert-like scrub in
the antelope brush and sage
brush steppe grasslands once
prevalent in this part of the
Okanagan Valley.

   During a minor gold rush
in the area in the late
1800s, settlers found that
the thirsty ground was rich
enough for growing orchard
and vine crops. Some of the
original trees from this era
still exist. The distribution
of water, however, was
insufficient to take

advantage of the rich glacial
soil. Several attempts at
irrigation were made with
small, locally developed
projects, but the sheer force
of spring runoff and
intermittent washouts from
heavy rain undermined

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