Enderby played a pivotal role in the development of the Okanagan Valley.
Situated on the west bank of the Shuswap River, it was located
at a point where the river changed its westerly flow to a northerly direction, emptying
into Mara Lake.|
It was along this river that the Spallumcheen tribe of the Shuswap Indians
lived for hundreds of years, hunting and fishing along its banks.
And it was just south of the townsite that Alexander Leslie Fortune, an Overlander,
pre-empted land in 1866, thus becoming the first white settler in the Okanagan.
The bend in the river made an ideal stopping spot for steamboats from Kamloops.
It was from this point that goods could be transshipped to the head of Okanagan Lake,
a distance of twenty miles. By the late 1870's there was regular steamboat service (The SS Ethel Ross shown here),
between Fortune's Landing and Savona or Kamloops.
Recognizing the importance of this spot on the river,
Thomas and Robert Lambly pre-empted the 320 acres to the east of the Spallumcheen Band Reserve
in 1876. They built a large warehouse on the riverbank.
Thomas Lambly was made Commissioner of Lands and Works for the Okanagan Polling Division,
and had his office initially in part of the warehouse. The site became known as Lambly's Landing
or Steamboat Landing.
The large ranches to the south continued to grow and prosper. They had considerable success
with wheat and other cereal cultivation. To mill their crops the farmers had to either take their product
to the Fortune Mill in Kamloops or the Brent Mill near Okanagan Mission.
With the completion of the CPR mainline in 1885, it did not seem unreasonable that a
flour mill could be built at Lambly's Landing to handle the wheat production in the
Spallumcheen and transport the finished product to Sicamous by boat.
Messrs. Lawes and Rashdale constructed a five - story roller mill on the river bank
The flour mill was the first large industry in Enderby. By 1888 the flour mill was in receivership.
Mr R.P. Rithet, a Victoria businessman, purchased the mill. He bought a small steamboat, the Red Star,
to transport his product to Sicamous. The Red Star transported flour, mail and passengers thrice weekly
between Sicamous and Enderby during the navigable season.
Mr. Rithet was a major shareholder in the proposed Shuswap and Okanagan Railway that would
connect Sicamous with Okanagan Landing. He, together with Moses Lumby
( who owned the large ranch just south of town, later known as the Stepney Ranch ) were instrumental
in persuading the provincial government to become financially committed to the Shuswap and
It seemed clear that the railway was coming, and the little settlement on the river would be the hub
of construction. A post office was slated to open, but what name would appear on the post mark?
Would it be Steamboat Landing, Lambly's Landing or Belvedere? At a literary gathering at Mrs. Lawes' home,
the group became excited about a Jean Ingelow poem about a rising tide of water.
The villagers were saved by the chiming of the church bells playing the tune
" The Brides of Enderby" When the post office opened that fall, many local residents were
surprised that they now lived in Enderby
With the completion of the Shuswap and Okanagan Railroad from Sicamous to Okanagan Landing
in 1892, the small town of Enderby began to grow and prosper.
The Columbia Flour Mill expanded and became the first flour mill in British Columbia to export flour
to the Fiji Islands and Japan. Smith and McLeod located a large sawmill on the river, cutting timber
from as far away as Mabel Lake and running down the Shuswap to the mill in the spring.
Andy Baird began to operate and expand a brickyard, utilizing the excellent quality clay found
along the banks of the river.
By 1905 the business district had expanded along Cliff St. , adding another hotel, the King Edward,
another blacksmith shop, several general stores and restaurants, a butchers shop, a livery barn,
a jewelry store and a newspaper office. The community was served by one doctor, three churches,
a public school and a bank.
With the population at 500 and growing, the townspeople decided to incorporate in 1905,
electing George Bell as the first Mayor. Graham Rosoman was appointed City Clerk and Bob Bailey
was appointed the City's first policeman and Public Works Foreman. Water was brought to town from
Brash Creek and a volunteer fire brigade was organized.
In 1906 the sawmill was purchased by A.R. Rogers and tripled in size to about 200 employees
on the payroll. River drives became annual events as the loggers ran the logs from as far away as
Sugar Lake down the Shuswap to Mabel Lake, towing the logs across the lake with a capstan,
and running the logs down to Enderby where they where boomed to be milled. The mill supplied
electricity to the town thrice weekly so that residents could make use of the latest invention, an electric iron.
Enderby became well known for its May 24th celebrations with people traveling on the
paddlewheeler and train to join in the events. The morning was filled with water sports, including log rolling,
canoe races and greasy pole. In the afternoon baseball and lacrosse teams battled while the children where
kept busy with a parade, races and games on the recreation grounds. The events culminated with a
grand ball in the evening.
The founding fathers had many visions about this small city, perhaps a pulp mill and dam at
Kingfisher Creek, a coal mine at North Enderby or a packing plant in Enderby would bring much
needed employment. With this in mind a City Hall was built in 1910, a new brick school in 1913 and a hospital in 1915.
In 1914 England became engulfed in the First World War and the men of Enderby left on the train.
Visions where left unfilled and many men never returned. The flour mill closed and the sawmill closed. The pole industry, the dairy industry and the brickyard supported the remaining residents. Enderby would suffer through a recession, depression and the Second World War before the river would once again attract settlers to the district.
The Naming of Enderby
Enderby was not always called Enderby. The native people called the general area "Splats'in" which was anglicized to become "Spallumcheen" meaning flat prairie or meeting of the rivers.
The first white settler, A.L. Fortune, had a farm about a mile south of the present townsite. The river boats from Kamloops and that spot became know as Fortunes Landing.
When Robert Lambly built a warehouse on the riverbank just south of the present bridge, the riverboats began to stop there. The name Lambly's Landing seemed assured. Many folks simply referred to the location as Steamboat Landing. Mrs Lambley, however,had her own preferences. She liked the name Belvidere. So when the Provincial Government came to
surrvey the area along the river between the warehouse and the Spallumcheen Band Reserve they called it the Belvidere Townsite. It was distinct from the rest of the property and was later sold at auction, almost all of it purchased by Robert and Thomas Lambly.
There matters rested, although it appears that there was an ongoing discussion over what the name of the new town on the river might be. No one was in a particular hurry to find a name until 1887 when it became clear that a Post Office was going to open in Mr. Harvey's general store on the riverbank just north of Belvidere Townsite. What to cll the town?
The name was suggested at a ladies' literary gathering at the home of Mrs. laws, the wife of the buiulder of the flour mill on the riverbank, whose house looked down on the townsite from the hillside vantage point at the west end of mill street. It was June. The river was at flood. One of the ladies read a poem by Jean Ingelow, high tide on the coast of Lincolnshire, which described a real disaster that occurred on the evening of October 5,1571. The poetess fictionalized much of the event to fit her poem, including the tune that rang out from the churchbells at Boston: The Brides of Enderby. Wow! "Enderby!" What a perfect name for a new town, especially since the ladies present at the tea had become brides only recently. Mrs Harvey was at the gathering and assured the ladies that her husband would have no objections to the name. He would inform Ottawa that the new postal mark should read "Enderby." When some of the settlers picked up their mail, they were amazed that the town had been named without their input. Some, like Fred Barnes, thought it was as stupid as New Westminister.
In the 1930's at another ladies' tea, the women present wondered where the name came from and if there really was such a place in England. The ladies pored over lists of post offices and railway stations in England but nothing appearred, Zillah May Meighan discovered the reason: the three villages of Bag Enderby, Mavis Enderby, and Wood Enderby lying between Spilbury and Horncastle were off the mail rail lines and did not even have post offices. They were just too small. The largest had six hundred residents and the smallest had two hundred.
These small villages had existed even before the Roman conquest and were on a flat plain that was subject to flooding: the Lincolnshire Marsh, The name originally seems to come from a combination of old Norse and Old English: Eindrithi's by.
"Einraethi" is Old Norse for "sole ruler" and the suffix " by" is Old English, denoting a village or homestead. By the time the Domesday book was complied in 1806 the name had become more recognizable : "Enderbi." By 1202, Enderby Malby's appeared as lands held by Wiliam Malebisse and later shortened to Mavis Enderby. Woodenderby was found a single word in the Domesday book and was later made into two words.
So Jean Ingelow, growing up in Lincolnshire, knew that these places existed and decided to take some poetical licence
and use them in her poem. Her poetry was immensely popular in mid-nineteenth century England. Some of her volumes went through twenty-three printings. Lord Tennyson once said of her "Miss Ingelow, I do declare, you do the trick better than I do."
Residents of the little city on the Shuswap River have a popular English poetess, a tea party at the Lawes', and a postmaster ready to do his wife's bidding to thank for their town's name.
VISIT THE ENDERBY & DISTRICT MUSEUM
901 GEORGE STREET, ENDERBY