Captain Thomas Shorts was the first white man to call the delta home. In 1882, he preempted what was soon called “Shorts’ Point”, but he wasn’t really interested in improving the land, as the official agreement required. He found it more profitable to provide Okanagan Lake’s first commercial transportation. He would row freight and passengers the125 km (78 miles) from Okanagan Landing at the north end of the Vernon Arm all the way to Penticton at the south end. When CPR sternwheelers splashed into the lake in 1893, they put Shorts out of business. He sold the delta and it passed through a number of hands until James Cameron Dun-Waters appeared on the horizon. He fell in love with the area, bought it, renamed it Fintry, after his home in Scotland and, with amazing foresight and ingenuity, created a Garden of Eden in the Okanagan.
The “Laird of Fintry” was a fascinating man of contrasts. He was a frugal Scot but generous, too. He revered tradition but was both innovative and inventive. Dun-Waters was an aristocrat but often dressed so casually, he’d be mistaken for a tramp. He was a gracious host, passionate about his beliefs and a stern but fair employer. He would accept nothing but the best in himself, his staff or his projects.
Dun-Waters was a younger son who unexpectedly inherited a fortune at the age of 22. Money allowed him to pursue his love of hunting all over the world, including Canada. In 1908, when he saw and explored Shorts’ Point, he knew he’d found his dream. Within a year, he bought the delta and renamed it Fintry after his home in Scotland.
When he and his first wife, Alice, first settled in the Okanagan, he hunted with horse, hounds and horn, dressed in boots, breeches, cap and traditional red riding jacket. Later, he preferred to rough it in the backcountry with packhorses, a guide and perhaps a friend or two.
He returned to England to fight for King and Country in WW1, and was wounded at Gallipoli. When the war ended, he built a convalescent centre in Egypt with his own funds, so soldiers could recuperate before returning to the British Isles.
His beloved Alice died in 1924. Shortly after that, the house burned down. He rebuilt it and moved back in, with the Stuarts for company. Katie Stuart had been Alice’s faithful companion and her brother, Geordie, was the estate accountant. Seven years later, Dun-Waters married again. He chose Margaret Menzies, a recently immigrated Scottish lass, 30 years his junior. After Dun-Water’s death, Margaret found Fintry too isolated for her liking, so she moved into Kelowna.
In his 30 years at Fintry, Dun-Waters turned the undeveloped delta into a productive farm and impressive estate. But his interests also stretched to broader horizons. He was a director of the CPR and played strong roles in the BC Fruit Growers Association, the Armstrong Exhibition organization and curling clubs from Vernon to Vancouver.
Having no heirs, Dun-Waters sold Fintry Estate to Fairbridge Farm School for one dollar. This was a philanthropic organization that trained underprivileged children to become farmers.
Physically, Dun-Waters was a slight man but he cast a giant shadow across the valley he loved. Its benefits are still felt.
Some of Dun-Waters’ most impressive buildings are now under the care of the Friends of Fintry Society in partnership with BC Parks and the Regional District of Central Okanagan. One of the last remaining packinghouse that was serviced by sternwheelers on Okanagan Lake stands on the point and has recently (2007- 2008) undergone a stabilization process. The gracious Manor House and unique octagonal dairy barn are open for guided tours during in summer months. Contact us for specific times. Special tours can be arranged.
Dr. Paul Koroscil A Gentleman Farmer in British Columbia’s Garden of Eden
Stan Sauerwein with Arthur Bailey FINTRY, Lives Loves and Dreams.
Fintry is a beautiful provincial park on the west shores of Okanagan Lake. It has a past to be proud of & a present to delight outdoor enthusiasts.
The Friends are involved in research, restoration of buildings and grounds, building the Fintry archives, work bees, fund raising, and recovering as many of Dun-Waters’ belongings as possible.
There are over 200 Friends, mostly from the Okanagan Valley but some come from as far away as California and Scotland.
The members want to see Dun-Waters’ legacy restored, protected - and shared with the public.