Gruyelle's grave

Henri Gruyelle’s grave marker at the Vernon cemetery.

Last week’s history article examined the lives of French-born pioneer ranchers Odile Fasciaux and Henri Gruyelle, who came to the Central Okanagan and purchased much of the former Mission Ranch — part of the historic “Pandosy Mission” — in 1902.

When Gruyelle came to the Central Okanagan, he was accompanied by his widowed mother, Camille, brother, Joseph, and his four sisters. His mother and sisters did not locate at Kelowna; the 1911 Canada census for Vernon shows Camille Gruyelle (69 years old) living in that city with her unmarried daughters: Mary (Marie), born in France in 1871; Matilda (Mathile), born in France in 1881; and Margaret (Margret), born in France in 1883.

Camille Gruyelle lived the rest of her life in Vernon and died in that North Okanagan city on July 12, 1914, at the age of 72. Her daughters apparently did not remain in British Columbia.

Henri Gruyelle and Odile Fasciaux —friends and ranching partners — became brothers-in-law, when Henri’s youngest sister, Madeleine (born in France on April 30, 1885), married Odile Fasciaux at the Okanagan Mission, on Feb. 24, 1903. Odile Fasciaux was described as 25 years old, a farmer, living in the Okanagan. Madeleine Gruyelle was 17 years old and living at Okanagan Mission. Place of marriage was Okanagan Mission, with the Rev. J. A. Roy, officiating. Henri Gruyelle was one of the witnesses.

The 1904-05 “Henderson’s British Columbia Gazetteer and Directory”, page 176, has the following misspelled references for Odile Fasciaux and Henri Gruyelle:

Fasciaux, Adite. Farmer

Grupelle, Henry. Farmer

The entry immediately below “Grupelle, Henry” is “Gruyelle, Joseph. Farmer.”

Odile Fasciaux and Henri Gruyelle were doing well in their personal and economic lives. Disaster loomed on the horizon.

In the summer of 1907, Henri Gruyelle’s 29-year-old brother Joseph was sent to the “Provincial Asylum for the Insane” at New Westminster. According to local 1907 newspaper accounts, Joseph Gruyelle’s recent mental illness greatly impacted his older brother. Henri Gruyelle committed suicide on the morning of Aug. 14, 1907. This suicide occurred on his mission property. He was 31 years old.

An article on page one of the Thursday, Aug. 15, 1907. edition of “The Kelowna Courier and Okanagan Orchardist” provides information about Gruyelle’s death and gives insight into his personality:

“The unfortunate man (Henri Gruyelle) was in the prime of life and was generally liked.

“He was of a very quiet disposition, and business worries and the mental affliction of his brother Joe are supposed to have been too much of a strain, with the sad result.

“He is survived by two sisters, Miss Gruyelle and Mrs. Fasciaux.’

Because of the circumstances surrounding his death, Henri Gruyelle was not buried in the second local Roman Catholic Cemetery on Casorso Road. His body was removed for burial in the Vernon Cemetery, on Pleasant Valley Road, where a granite cross marks his final resting place.

Odile Fasciaux owned and operated the Mission Ranch, without his late partner, for one year.

Local historian Primrose Upton wrote about the historic Mission property, in the “30th Report” of the Okanagan Historical Society (1966), page 182:

“Again the Ranche (the Gruyelle and Fasciaux property) was sold in March, 1908 to the South Kelowna Land and Orchard Co., Dr. DePfyffer (Dr. Paul de Pfyffer) purchasing the old Mission House. Thus ended the Mission founded by Father Pandosy in 1859 (1860).

The Church of the Immaculate Conception was built in Kelowna in 1908, and a short time later the church at Father Pandosy’s Mission was pulled down.”

In 1908, following the sale of the mission property to the South Kelowna Land and Orchard Company, Odile Fasciaux and his wife, Madeleine (Henri’s sister), made a return trip to France, where their daughter Yvonne was born.

Odile, Madeleine and infant Yvonne returned to Canada in June 1909, sailing on the “La Lorraine.” They were enumerated for the 1911 Canada census, living at Kelowna.

At that same time, members of the Gruyelle family, including Henri’s

widowed mother and his three younger unmarried sisters, were living at Vernon.

A May 7, 1914 newspaper announcement, submitted by F.G. “Fred” Gillard, nephew of early francophone pioneer August Gillard, announced that Gillard was giving up several properties in nearby Benvoulin, requesting that Odile Fasciaux take possession of these properties. Odile Fasciaux was still involved with agriculture.

Fasciaux may have served in the First World War, returning to Kelowna during that conflict (in 1917) but details of any military service have not been located.

One of the last local records I can locate for the Fasciaux family is the 1921 Canada census, page 20, listing residents of East Kelowna. As is common in early records, there are problems with the spelling of “Fasciaux”, as well as some of the biographical information.

Fascieaux, Odine (sic), 44 years old, Born France, Came to Canada in 1901, rancher

Fascieuax, Madeline, 36 years old Born France,Came to Canada in 1901

(sic: 1894)

Fascieaux, Yvonne, 12 years old, Born British Columbia (sic: Born in France)

Odile Fasciaux was listed in various old directories of the Okanagan Telephone Company, the last being on page 25 of the 1922 Directory:

Fasciaux, O, ranch, Ok Mission, 296 – L4 (telephone number)

A 2011 email message from George Glorieux, Gruyelle relation and genealogist, indicates that the Fasciaux family left the Okanagan and returned to France, about 1922. Odile Fasciaux died at Vence, France on Jan. 1, 1969, at the age of 91 years. Madeline (nee Gruyelle) Fasciaux died at Vence on August 15, 1973, at the age of 83 years.

“Gruyelle” and “Fasciaux” have not been assigned to any of Kelowna’s thoroughfares, nor is Gruyelle attached to any local natural feature. “Fasciaux” has been preserved, albeit it misspelled, as “Fascieux Creek” and “Fascieux Creek Wetland (3320 Casorso Rd.).

This article is part of a series, submitted by the Kelowna Branch, Okanagan Historical Society. Additional information is always welcome at P.O Box 22105 Capri P.O., Kelowna, B.C., V1Y 9N9.