The Branch has been involved in many aspects of the history of the South Okanagan with a special interest in the old gold mining community of Fairview.
“While Reed and Ryan were the earliest upon the scene, they can scarcely be said to have the honour of discovery. Quartz outcrop they undoubtedly saw, and mineral claims they had, but they turned their backs on the locality leaving nothing to show about their connection except the name Reed Creek. To another set of discoverers must really belong the honour of its [Fairview] discovery as a camp. These were Messrs. George Sheean and Fred Gwatkin, who in the fall of 87 put up stakes on the Stemwinder which is known in camp as the discovery claim.” (Okanagan Miner, Sept. 6, 1893)
The earliest mention of the Stemwinder claim I have seen is in the Kamloops Inland Sentinel: “...The Stemwinder with the several claims adjoining are also valuable properties, showing free gold and considering the amount of development done, the prospects are very satisfactory to the owners.” (May 19, 1889) The Stemwinder became one of the significant mines at Fairview. The development and operation of this mine had many economic cycles, in a similar manner as that of the overall Fairview community.
George Sheehan and Fred Gwatkins sold the Stemwinder for $50,000 in late 1897. The mine continued to operate on and off under different management and ownership teams until 1956. B.C. Government records indicate total production of 103,310 grams of gold and 532,797 grams of silver plus some lead and zinc were taken from the Stemwinder mine. Exploration with rock sampling and structural analyses has continued, most recently in 2019.
(Courtesy Larry Shannon, January 2021)