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The Octagon – September 2023

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

The Octagon – September, 2023

Greetings Friends,

As I write this, and as if to declare the end of the school summer holidays, the rains have arrived. The parched earth, the tinder dry forests and our overworked firefighters must be doing a happy dance. However, although this helps, it will take a much more prolonged rain to really get everything thoroughly soaked and people can breathe easily again.

We are devastated that so many families along Westside Road, West Kelowna and Lake Country have lost their homes and our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they now try to come to grips with their loss and try to get their lives back together.

The Friends of Fintry are so disappointed that our much-anticipated Highland Fair had to be cancelled because of the wildfire “Order” that came down just two days before the Fair was to happen. With our events, musicians, competitions and lots of new vendors all signed up for what promised to be an exciting day, we now have to postpone it totally until next year. Fintry Provincial Park and consequently the Manor House are both closed until further notice. Not the way we wanted to end this season. We are however, still hopeful that we may be able to open at some point in September so check our website for updates.

Some new additions to the Fintry collection are now mounted in the Ben Lee Room and a very interesting story now follows courtesy of Dan Bruce and our donor, Dusty Cooper.

. “Dusty ” and “Rusty”, our new Dall sheep mounts, can now be seen flanking the video screen in the Ben Lee Room.    These are the gifts of Dusty and Janelle Cooper, of Lake Country, and our Board Member, Roy Lysholt is seen here in the process of installing the heads in their place.

Dall’s sheep, of which there are three sub-species, appear to be more closely related to the Asiatic species of wild sheep than to the American one so frequently met with on Westside Road.  Our new specimens are examples of Ovis dalli dalli, as opposed to the Peninsular Dall, Ovis dalli kenaiensis or Ovis dallistonei, the Stone or Black Sheep.

Dusty Cooper has kindly given this account (below) of the hunt for the one-horned ram. For a wild sheep to lose a horn, and expose the horn-core, there could have been an unusually serious battle with a rival ram, or even a bad fall.  Whatever happened, it is very likely that the animal would not have survived much longer in the wild.


By Dusty Cooper

I was guiding for Dall Sheep in the Northwest Territory (NWT) in the early 1980s. I had been guiding in the Mackenzie Mountains since 1975. During a hunt on the upper Fritz River and based out of a spike camp our crew was setup on the river and at the base of a mountain where we had seen sheep the day before. The small crew consisted of my wife, who was camp cook, another assistant guide, and a horse wrangler. We had two hunters in our camp at this time, which both were looking for Dall Sheep and Caribou. Above our spike camp we saw a good bunch of “Dall Sheep Rams” on a large rock outcrop feeding in a grassy area. While I was looking at the sheep through a spotting scope, I noticed some exceptional rams in the group. So, I took my hunter, and we started climbing up the side of the mountain to make our way toward the sheep. While climbing we had to keep concealed from the sheep to ensure they do not notice us coming their direction, this meant moving through rock crevasses and small creek drainages. 

Once we thought we were in the area we had last seen them we made our way to a large rock overhang to hide behind and start glassing (binoculars) for the sheep.  Even after our 5-hour climb, to our delight the sheep were still in the same area, where some were feeding and others laying down. They were now approximately 150 yards away from us at this time. One thing that was very different then I had ever seen before, one large adult ram was missing a horn. Was it that he fell off a cliff earlier on and broke it off, or fighting with another ram? Many questions came through our mind, but one thing for sure he was a “One Horn Ram”. 

 After a bit of a discussion with my hunter he said that he preferred one of the other large adult rams and did not want to take the one horned ram. So, I said to him, if you don’t mind after you shoot your ram successfully would you hand me your rifle so I can take the one horned ram. Providing they stay close by, and all do not run off in a scurry. So, once we decided and got situated, my hunter shot the ram he wanted and handed me the rifle so I could take the one horn ram. We hiked over to where the rams were laying and noticed that the one horn ram was bleeding from the missing horn core on his head. We assumed that it had not been long before this that he must have lost his horn. I was glad that I took this ram as he was likely having difficulty and very well could have gotten infected and died from this earlier injury.

 After we cleaned up the rams and packed the meat, cape, and horns on our packs we started to head down the mountain toward spike camp. We took a break and sat down for a moment and had a drink of water by one of the small creeks running down the mountain. I decided to take my binoculars out and have a look at camp in the valley bottom next to the river. To my disbelief I became in panic mode as I saw a grizzly bear not far from our camp heading that direction. Noting that my wife was alone in camp preparing a dinner for that night and did not know what was about to approach her!

Dusty Cooper

NWT Big Game Guide

On an entirely different topic, those of our readers who are members of the Okanagan Historical Society will notice an article in the latest (87th) report of the OHS, “James Teit and Coiled Basketry “.  One of the illustrations shows the very large basket now atop the bookcase in the Dressing Room at Fintry.

We certainly hope that we can resume our tours later in September so that you can come and see Dusty and Rusty and some other new additions in the Manor House!

Looking forward to better days ahead…..

Kathy Drew,

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

August 2023 – The Octagon

Greetings Friends,

Now that we are into the dog days of summer, this constant heat is getting old. Gardens are struggling and gardeners are finding it difficult to keep up with maintenance. However, we should be thankful that we have not had much in the way of fires here in the north Okanagan, although as I write this…smoke is now billowing in.

We have decided to change up our next Fair, and in keeping with Dun-Waters’ Scottish heritage we have put a different spin on it. The Fintry Highland Fair will be held on Sunday, August 20th, on the grounds of the Manor House, with vendors, the Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band, Kilt 45, Silent Auction, Steve Smith, Manor House tours etc. This Fair will have the added attraction of some Highland Games events such as Haggis Hurling, a Wife Carrying competition, Welly-boot toss and a Tug o’War.  There will even be a Shortbread judging competition, so dig out Granny’s old recipe and get baking! Bring your shortbread to the Fair in the morning as judging takes place at 1 pm. Check out our website for the shortbread entry form or you can enter on the day. There will be prizes and fun for everyone!

The Fair runs from 10-4pm so bring the whole family and have a fun day at Fintry!  We have two food trucks guaranteed and the Firemen will be dishing out ice cream to keep you cool.

Our volunteers work so hard on these Fairs to make them a success as they are the major fundraisers that help to keep the lights on in the Manor House as well as the general upkeep of this historic site so we really value your support when we organize these events.

With the help of our volunteers and Cole (our summer student) we have been able to open for tours Wednesdays thru Sundays (afternoons) with barn tours Wednesdays through Saturdays in the mornings. We are also very grateful to Ron Chandler, our new Caretaker who has moved into the suite in the Manor House and who has been assisting with tours weekdays, as well as tidying up the grounds and gardens. Living onsite, he is able to do all these tasks that nobody else has the time to do! Thankyou Ron!

Now that we are able to open the Octagonal Barn for tours there has been a steady flow of traffic through this heritage building. Cole does an amazing job sharing the history with our visitors. Next year this barn will be 100 years old!

Our Curator Dan Bruce would like to draw your attention to another item of historical interest within the Manor House.

“Just beside the door that opens from the Trophy Room to the patio outside, visitors will see the figure of Sir George Felbrigg.   This is actually a very well-crafted reproduction of Sir George’s “Monumental Brass” that is in St. Mary’s church, Playford, Suffolk.   Brass plates depicting the deceased were placed either over the grave itself inside the church, or on the wall nearby.   This practice started on the Continent, and subsequently spread to England, where the earliest known example dates from 1276.  The custom declined and came to an end in the seventeenth century.      

It became a popular pastime to travel around to the various churches where these brass plaques were to be found and make wax-paper rubbings.  This involved laying a sheet of heavy-duty paper over the brass and then getting an impression by rubbing black wax over the image.    So many people were keen to do this and make collections of the images, that in several churches restrictions had to be put in place to prevent the brasses from being completely erased.      Here at Fintry, we have an example of such a rubbing, and it hangs on the east wall of the Trophy Room.   It is the monument of a lady, unfortunately of unknown name, that is to be seen in the church of St Helen, Bishopsgate, London, and dates from 1535.

The image of Sir George Felbrigg however, is a Fibreglass replica of the actual stone slab over his tomb with the brass ‘portrait’ in place.  The brasses were held in place by cutting into the stone, so that the brass could be set down, embedded in a layer of bitumen, sometimes with added lead clamps.  His is one of the best known of these monuments, and has been illustrated many times in the literature.   Sir George died in 1400 after a varied career in and around the English royal household.  He was an Esquire of the Household in the last years of the reign of Edward III, when he was involved in some questionable financial and real estate dealings.  Later, during the reign of Richard II he took care to be on better behaviour, and became a trusted and accomplished diplomat.  He was, together with two colleagues, sent to Bohemia in 1380 to negotiate with the Holy Roman Emperor for the hand of his daughter Anne in marriage to Richard II.   This was a successful mission, and Anne indeed became Richard’s wife, and Queen of England.

The image of Sir George shows him in a typical knight’s outfit of the time, notably the ‘aventail ‘ –  the chain mail protection for the neck and shoulders.     Practical experience of such a thing was witnessed at Fintry when the Viking re-enactors were performing at our fairs, every effort had to be made not to get a beard entangled in chain mail. Removal was extremely painful!”

Next time you are in the Manor House be sure to search out Sir George now that you know a little bit more of his history!

Enjoy these dog days because pretty soon the children will be back in school, the hummingbirds will head south and we will be staring fall and winter in the face!

Kathy Drew,

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park