EDITORIAL: Happy birthday O’Keefe Ranch

In a year of birthdays, there’s one that certainly stands out.

O’Keefe Ranch is celebrating its 150th anniversary Thursday, which is quite the achievement when you consider that it’s two weeks older than Canada and 25 years older than Spallumcheen, where the ranch is located, and Vernon, which owns the heritage site.

It’s almost hard to imagine what the North Okanagan was like when Cornelius O’Keefe first arrived and settled among the Okanagan people who had called this valley home for thousands of years. Despite the isolation, O’Keefe rolled up his sleeves and not only established a successful ranch but he paved the way for others to move here.

“It is important to understand our history and culture, where we came from, the people that built a foundation in Canada, B.C., and the Okanagan, said Glen Taylor, ranch general manager.

“O’Keefe Ranch does just that, through education and experiences that help us all to remember the importance of the past.”

But the current staff and volunteers at the ranch are also focused on the future and specifically highlighting the importance of our valley’s indigenous people, particularly when the relationship between natives and non-natives was often strained.

In the end, O’Keefe Ranch not only provides us with an opportunity to consider our past, but it challenges us to look at who we are and how our community can evolve. We would encourage everyone to visit the ranch and celebrate.