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Around Armstrong "A Brief History"



When work was completed on the Shuswap\Okanagan Railway in 1892, Armstrong consisted of a lone box car which served as station and home for the rail agent. "Apart from the box car," remarked one pioneer, "there was just willows & swamp". Ironically, the largest settlement in Spallumcheen, Lansdowne, had been bypassed by the S & O Line. Undaunted, the citizens of the community packed up belongings, even buildings and resettled beside the tracks in Armstrong. 
Today the only standing testimony we have of this once sprawling western town is the old Lansdowne cemetery.

Armstrong was incorporated as a City Municipality on March 26, 1913.

Armstrong was named after William Charles Heaton-Armstrong. In 1885 Heaton-Armstrong started a private bank and arranged a successful issue of bonds for the Shuswap and Okanagan Railway and visited Armstrong which was named for him, in 1892.

The City was visited by his great grandson, Anthony Heaton-Armstrong in August, 2002 and he officially opened the I.P.E. This visit sparked a new interest in the Armstrong Clan and we provide the following links for those who wish to do more research.

These can all be accessed through.

Fortunately, much of the history of the first pioneers has been recorded by the Armstrong\Spallumcheen Museum and O'Keefe Ranch.

The first Mayor of the City of Armstrong was JAMES M. WRIGHT, 1913.

St. James Anglican Church was moved from Lansdowne in the early 1890's; the oldest church in Armstrong - on the corner of Patterson Ave. and Mill St.

The word Spallumcheen is Indian in origin and signifies in the Indian language "The meeting of the waters". This no doubt refers to the low lying land joining the Columbia and Fraser River drainage basins located approximately one mile south of Armstrong where the two drainage streams split - (one flowing south the other north).

The Armstrong Hotel was built in the early 1890's for Hughy Keyes.

The first native born white child in the North Okanagan was Mrs. Charles (Sophie) Patten (nee: Sophia Catherine Ehmke) October 15, 1878.

In 1873 Alfred Postill pre-empted 640 acres of land on Deep Creek. In 1878 he erected a sawmill with a capacity of 12,000 feet per day. Levi W. Patten began managing the mill in 1883 and continued for 22 years.

Augustus Schubert was the last surviving member of the historic Cariboo Overlander Expedition in 1862. He died here in 1946 at the age of 91.

In 1904 E.R. Burnett grew the first celery in Armstrong (known as "Celery City"). The first crop amounted to 300 lbs.

Armstrong's first electric power was generated by pelton water wheel in the old Power House on Davis Creek. Work began on the stucture in 1906. It was later supplemented by diesel power.

Round Prairie School began as a community effort and was completed by August Schubert Sr. and August Schubert Jr. It was erected in 1885 and later taken over by the government. Thomas Leduc was the first teacher.

George Patchett built the first house in Armstrong in 1891. It stood just off Patterson Ave. at the edge of the bottomland.

Field lacrosse was in Armstrong as early as 1905.

Vance Young was the first white male born in Spallumcheen, October 25, 1878.

In 2013 Armstrong had their 100th birthday. A reenactment skit of the first council can be viewed on YouTube, posted below.

Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum & Arts Society
3415 Pleasant Valley Road,
Box 308, Armstrong, BC V0E 1B0
ph: 250-546-8318 or 250-546-9422