There is a long standing confusion between the name ‘Gaddes’ and ‘Geddes’ in association with the Gaddes family and their involvement in Edgewater companies and real estate.
What’s With the Misspellings?
Geddes Creek, located between Edgewater and Radium Hot Springs, is another example of a geographic name being misspelled from the legal name of the person it is named after. In this case, “Geddes Creek” commemorates a member of the Gaddes family; either real estate broker William Henry Gaddes or, possibly, his son: rancher Leonard Gaddes.
William Henry Gaddes was born 14 March 1869 in Chatsworth Ontario.1 He moved with his parents and siblings sometime before 1891 to Sintaluta, Saskatchewan (then the Northwest Territories), and two years later graduated as a veterinary surgeon from the Ontario Veterinary College (then affiliated with the University of Toronto).2 Gaddes married Annie Mary Liggett, and in 1901 the couple was living in Sintaluta with their one year old daughter, Bessie.3
Veterinarian Turned Real Estate Broker
Although Gaddes was trained as a veterinarian, and his occupation continued to be listed as such even on his death certificate,4 there is not a lot of evidence that he actively practiced that profession. By 1907 Gaddes and his family had moved to Kelowna5 where he was the president and general manager of the Central Okanagan Land and Orchard Company.6
The Land Company obtained 6,000 acres of property in Rutland (Kelowna) as well as in what was then known as Dry Valley. They then constructed a dam on Mill Creek in the hills to the east to provide water for irrigation.7 In an impressive show of confidence in this irrigation system, the company then sold 10 to 20 acre lots for orchards on the area in Dry Valley known as “Starvation Flats.” The area was renamed Glenmore in 1910.8
As president of the Land Company, as well as its affiliated company the Kelowna Irrigation Co, Gaddes became “probably one of the busiest men in Kelowna.”9 Not only did Gaddes oversee the construction of the irrigation system to bring water to these prospective orchards, he also marketed the land to prospective buyers in the United States, the coast, and on the prairies.10 His brother, George Melville Gaddes, also organized multiple excursions to the Okanagan out of his real estate office in Didsbury.11 The irrigation system was soon deemed to be, “one of the most efficient and permanent irrigation systems in the country,” with Glenmore foreseen to have a “great future.”12
With ongoing success in selling rural acreages, and having established a successful irrigation system, Gaddes expanded his real estate interests by becoming involved with the Columbia Valley Orchards Company (CVO) in the Windermere Valley around present day Edgewater.13 The exact nature of Gaddes’ involvement with the CVO is not very clear. According to family members, due to his success with the Central Okanagan Land Company Gaddes was asked by the main financial backer of the CVO, the Dominion Trust Company, to consult with land owner James Lorenzo McKay in his efforts to develop the land. The Dominion Trust Company had given a $300,000 loan to the Central Okanagan Company, which is likely how they came to know Gaddes.14
Gaddes’ family recalls that Dr Gaddes visited the McKays several times between 1908 and 1910 to aid in the project, but that his role in the CVO was “purely in an advisory capacity.”15 There are some problems with this explanation. For example, the first record I was able to find confirming Gaddes visited the valley was not until 1911, and it is unlikely that he was asked by the Dominion Trust Company to help with the Columbia Valley scheme until the Kelowna enterprise began to see success, which wasn’t until 1910.
Gaddes role in the CVO also seems to have been more substantial than as an advisor. By 1911, he was reported as being the president of the Columbia Valley Orchards Company, as well as a subsidiary irrigation company.16 If so, Gaddes seems to have taken a hands off approach to the role. He is recorded as having visited the Valley in person just twice: once in 1911, and once more in 1912.17
At the beginning of 1913, Gaddes split from the Central Okanagan Land Company to go into business with a joint stock company, Gaddes McTavish Ltd, “to transact a general financial, real estate and insurance business.”18 It is unclear if Gaddes continued to be involved in the CVO following this split. Then, in May 1914, Gaddes suddenly sold off all his household effects by auction and moved his family to California.19 The reasons for the move are unclear, although it did coincide with financial difficulties faced by the Dominion Trust Company, which in 1914 went into receivership, bringing the CVO down with it.20
The Gaddes’ sojourn to California did not last long, with the family returning to Kelowna in August 1915.21 They remained there until May 1919, when they moved again, this time to a ranch near Klamath Falls, Oregon.22 By 1922 Gaddes and family had moved back to British Columbia, this time to Vancouver.
Reinvestment in the Windermere Valley
The same year that he moved to Vancouver, Dr Gaddes and his brother, Herbert, along with a Dr J.W. Thompson, purchased the 14,000 acres formerly owned by the Columbia Valley Orchards Company.23 They incorporated a new company, called the Columbia Valley Ranch Ltd, in April 1923 with intentions of developing it into a large cattle and sheep ranch.24
Dr Gaddes and his familiy took an active interest in this new company and in developing the land around Edgewater. Between 1923 and 1925, he is listed in the provincial Directory as a farmer in Edgewater, and his two oldest sons, Charles and Leonard, were on the summer work crews.25
This changed somewhat in July 1925 when Columbia Valley Ranches Ltd was sold to a syndicate based in Portland, Oregon with Albertan investment.26 The details of this sale are, again, difficult to sort out. Elsewhere, it is reported that one of the purchasers was Dr Gaddes’ youngest brother, George Melville (Mel), who had interested another Alberta business owner to purchase the property and bring in settlers from the prairies.27 Dr Gaddes also seems to have retained some involvement in the enterprise even after this sale, being listed in 1927 as the proprietor of Columbia Valley Ranches in Edgewater and joined the following year by his son, Charles D Gaddes.28 The entire property officially reverted to Dr Gaddes and his business partners with the stock market crash in 1929.
William Gaddes stepped away from his Edgewater interests at the end of 1928, when he was appointed by the province as a Commissioner tasked, “to inquire into conditions with respect to immigration and settlement in this province.”29 An understandably vague job description, the newly created governmental post was intended “to make a scientific survey of the land settlement problem,”30 in order to get more people settling (and farming) in British Columbia. Gaddes was sworn in as Commissioner of Colonization in December 1928 and promised a salary of $5,000 a year.31
In 1930, Gaddes’ was also appointed chairman of the Land Settlement Board under the Department of Agriculture.32 There was some criticism of Gaddes’ work for the provincial government, in part due to his high salary, and also because he reportedly wrote multiple reports for the government that were referenced in government issued pamphlets without the whole of the reports being made publicly available. 33 Gaddes eventually either resigned or had his appointment rescinded (there are contradictory reports) in January 1934, and the Colonization Office closed. 34
The Other Gaddes
Meanwhile, back in the Windermere Valley, the Gaddes family’s involvement in and around Edgewater continued to evolve. With Dr William Gaddes appointed to political office in 1928, his younger brother, Mel took over as real estate manager for what was then Edgewater Irrigation Farms Ltd.35 Mel is listed in directories as G M Geddes.
The following year, Mel was joined by William’s son Leonard, who managed the associated enterprise the Columbia Valley Fur Farms Ltd.36 Leonard continued to be listed as a resident of Edgewater from 1930 through to 1943.37
During this time, Leonard managed at times the Columbia Valley Fur Farms, Edgewater Irrigation Farms, and Columbia Valley Ranches (the company holding the land around Edgewater went through many confusing iterations). Leonard also ran twice in the provincial election, once in 1937 and again in 1941 as the Conservative representative for the Columbia riding.38 He and his family moved in 1943 to Grand Forks, then to Victoria in 1957 where Leonard passed away in 1994.39
Dr Gaddes Returns
Dr William H Gaddes again took over as manager of Columbia Valley Ranches in 1943 after Leonard moved away.40 The elder Gaddes seems to have become more actively involved in promoting the company after his resignation from political office in 1934, again making trips to the prairies to interest farmers to purchase land in the area.41 He continued to be listed in provincial directories as manager of Columbia Valley Ranches in Edgewater until at least 1948.42 Dr William Henry Gaddes died in Kelowna on 24 April 1965 at the age of 96.43
There is a long standing confusion between the name ‘Gaddes’ and ‘Geddes’ in association with the Gaddes family and their involvement in Edgewater companies and real estate. As mentioned, even members of the same family are occasionally identified with different spellings, and Dr William H Gaddes was at times identified as Dr William H Geddes. Nonetheless, Geddes Creek is most likely named after Dr William Gaddes, as even though multiple family members were associated with enterprises in the area, Dr Gaddes has the longest association with the area and is usually the one singled out by name.