Racism - 1927

This is an almost forgotten event and possibly should be forgotten.

I believe I am the only one alive that remembers this occasion.

The thinking by some at this early stage of the district was that it would be detrimental to the interests of the young growing community to allow Orientals to become established. A petition was circulated and signed by 45 landowners objecting to Orientals being allowed into the district.

Two growers, Dr. Harcourt Heal and his brother George Heal had neighboring properties. Dr. Heal, an absentee landowner and a dentist practicing in Vancouver, ignoring the feelings of other growers decided to hire a "Chinaman", wages being $40. per month.

Not being a landowner, and not fully aware of the implications, I was requested to join a group of 15 or 20 men one morning to protest. Armed with hoes, shovels and various farm tools we marched up to George Heal's farm (Dr. Heal being absent). The spokesman of the party was Sandy McPherson, proprietor of South Okanagan Supply Co.

In no uncertain terms McPherson told George, who met us at the gate "that the chinaman was not welcome" and he was given 24 hours to leave Oliver.

George replied, saying he was staying and he had $10,000 to fight the case. The following evening as the man was on his way home with a team of horses, a car drove up beside him, and two hooded men accosted him, blindfolded him and drove him up to the Fairview-Cawston summit. He was told to keep going towards Cawston and never come back to Oliver. The team of horses well knew the way and went safely home to the farm.

It was reported that the two men who confiscated him were each paid $300, a goodly sum of money in 1927.

A court case eventually was held. The magistrate was W.G. Wilkins. During the trial, evidence and reliable witnesses were not to be found so the case was dismissed. The Canadian Legion was a strong group at that time with much influence.

PS. All the characters mentioned were good citizens and acting according to their consciences at the time.

January 1999

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