An exterior view of the former Dilkusha House. (File photo)

Memory of Salmon Arm’s former Dilkusha House preserved

Okanagan Historical Society releases 83rd annual report

This year’s Okanagan Historical Society report celebrates a piece of Salmon Arm’s history inside and out.

The report’s cover, with the tulip orchard in the foreground and Shuswap Lake in the background, takes the reader back to 1928, the glory days of Dilkusha.

The Dilkusha house was built in the early 1900s near the present-day recreation centre. The house, with its British India inspired style, was built by Lt. Col. Bernard Scott.

“Col. Scott made a pre-retirement trip to Salmon Arm and they came to live here in 1912 after he completed his military service in India,” said Maureen Shaffer. “He started experimenting with tulips as a side-line crop in 1919. He started with 40 dozen tulip bulbs and by 1928 he was sending them all over Canada.”

Maureen’s history of the Dilkusha house, which spans the years 1912 to 2017, is one of three stories of the Salmon Arm area and one of 35 in this year’s report.

“This is our 83rd issue,” said Diane Ambil. “It’s the longest continually published society report in B.C. We publish it in book form; not all societies do.”

Diane is the Salmon Arm branch editor of the Okanagan Historical Society (OHS). Other branches include Armstrong-Enderby, Kelowna, Oliver-Osoyoos, Penticton, Summerland and Vernon.

Maureen is the secretary of the Dilkusha Heritage Society. When she heard the building was slated for demolition she got involved because the fifth owners of the house, Ian and Shirley Williams, were close friends. Although Shirley passed away several years ago, Maureen felt Shirley would have fought hard to preserve it.

Read more: City asked to help preserve memory of Orchard House

Read more: LETTER: The mystery of Dilkusha

“Shirley was one of my best friends and her girls were friends with my girls. It was a friendship we all treasured. There were many happy memories there.”

The society wasn’t successful in their efforts to save the house from demolition, but they preserve its memory in presentations and stories.

“We believe that Salmon Arm, as a community, has a responsibility to pay tribute to Dilkusha and the Scott family to recognize, in perpetuity, their many contributions to the community, to agriculture, and to history,” said Maureen.

The OHS report cover comes from Salmon Arm artist Linda Franklin’s rendition of the Dilkusha tulip field. (The picture is part of a triptych by Lazuline artists Franklin, Lisa Figueroa, and Tracey Kutschker; it is owned by the Salmon Arm Credit Union).

The OHS 83rd report is available at Bookingham Palace and Hidden Gems. The cost of $27 includes membership in the Okanagan Historical Society.


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Maureen Shaffer and Diane Ambil with the Okanagan Historical Society’s 83rd report. The report is available at local bookstores. (Leah Blain photo)

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