Osoyoos Custom House - Osoyoos, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 49° 03.795 W 119° 31.103
11U E 316040 N 5437542
This old Cairn and plaque were discovered quite accidentally while stopping by the Osoyoos Cemetery. It is on the east side of 176th Avenue, directly across from the cemetery.
Waymark Code: WMMGQP
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 09/18/2014
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member The_Draglings
Views: 6

Prior to 1861, customs business in the South Okanagan and Similkameen areas was handled by a customs office south of the Similkameen River and south of the site of present day Cawston. In 1861 the first customs house at Osoyoos was built on graveyard hill, 5 miles north of the border, the 49th parallel. John Carmichael Haynes was appointed Collector of Customs in November of 1861, as well as Gold Commissioner, and operated the customs house at Osoyoos until his death on July 6th, 1888. This customs house remained at this site until a new building was erected at a more favorable site in 1865.

This cairn, erected by the Government of British Columbia in 1957, marks the site of the original 1861 customs house.
The First Customs House in Osoyoos

On a visit to Rock Creek in 1860, Governor Douglas appointed William George Cox as Justice of the Peace and Gold Commissioner. John Carmichael Haynes was sent to the region to act as Deputy Collector of Customs.
In 1860, a customs house was established on the lower Similkameen between Cawston and the international boundary line. In September 1861, Cox was granted the authority to construct a customs house at Osoyoos. The site chosen was at the top of Graveyard Hill, 5 miles (8 km) north of the international boundary. Cox, however, would not see the completion of the new customs house. Upon being transferred out of Osoyoos at the end of 1861, Cox passed the duty of Gold Commissioner over to Haynes. Haynes was now the acting Collector of Customs for the Okanagan-Similkameen boundary. The first order of business for Haynes was to complete the construction of the customs house in Osoyoos, a more central location from which to conduct customs operations.

From "the Narrows" to the 49th

In 1865, the first customs house in Osoyoos was relocated from Graveyard Hill to a more strategic location near the modern day Sonora Centre. Customs operations were conducted there until 1878 when the building burned down. By 1882, a new combined customs office and residence for Haynes was opened on the east side of the lake. The edifice still stands to this day and is one of the oldest buildings in the South Okanagan.

> After Haynes passed away in 1888, the customs office was moved back to the west side of the lake. It was located in Theodore Kruger's cabin near today's Sonora Centre until the turn of the century. From 1902 until the early 1930s, the customs house was located along Highway 3 just west of the bridge. The false-fronted building had a corral for cattle and horses.

In 1930, Canadian customs finally made its way to the 49th parallel. The building was located near the present day entrance to the American-Canadian boundary. It shared space with the Department of Immigration which started in 1929. The building was in use from 1930 until 1952.

In 1952 the customs facilities at the 49th parallel were revamped. The facilities consisted of two separate buildings. The western building was used solely for touring or passenger cars coming and going. The eastern building was designed to handle trucks and buses. Warehouse space, cells with barred windows, and search rooms made up the more than 12,000 square feet of floor space.

What Crossed the Border?

American settlement of the Oregon country in the 1840s had resulted in a surplus of cattle in the region. The gold rushes to the Fraser and Thompson rivers in 1858, to Rock Creek and the Similkameen in 1859, and to the Cariboo after 1860 brought thousands of miners and cattle drovers northward along the early fur brigade trails.

The incursion of miners and cattle drovers prompted the colonial government of B.C. to establish customs officers to intercept livestock and merchandise and charge appropriate duties. A duty of one dollar per head and a "drover's fee" of $50 for six months was established for anyone driving cattle into B.C.

In 1862, it was recorded that 9,285 head of horses, cattle and sheep entered B.C. at Osoyoos, and over $2,200 in revenues was collected. During the years from 1859 until 1870, over 22,000 head of cattle crossed the border at Osoyoos and were driven up the brigade trail into the B.C. Interior.
From the Osoyoos Museum
Type of Marker: Cultural

Type of Sign: British Columbia Tourism Sign

Describe the parking that is available nearby: Street parking

What Agency placed the marker?: British Columbia Government

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