Select Page

Doug Cox – Preserving History

Doug Cox – Preserving History

Doug Cox says it’s a hobby that has gotten completely out of hand. Although his books recounting area history have been local bestsellers for decades, as a child he wasn’t particularly interested in reading or writing. He was, however, blessed with a natural curiosity. “I travel with a camera in one hand and a tape recorder in the other,” he says. “I’m always asking questions.”

Doug’s enthusiasm for history was sparked while he was on the other side of the globe. He’d been touring the world (“it was the thing to do in the ’70s”) and while in South Africa he wrote home. His father wrote back, mentioning that Doug’s grandfather had spent time there during the Boer War. That led Doug to visit area museums, and he was hooked.

Still, when he came back to Canada to find work, history didn’t motivate his choice of location. He simply wanted to live near a good ski hill, and figured Apex was the best. But while living on a rural property in the Green Mountain Road area, he soon became aware of the region’s rich local history. “Some of the old-timers were telling me about the freight wagons and the stage coaches and all that,” he says, and soon he was collecting their stories —along with plenty of black and white photos.

This led to a long-term relationship with the Western News-Advertiser. For 18 years, he supplied them weekly with a photo and a story caption. In those days he often knocked on doors to ask for family histories; surprisingly, he says, people were usually delighted to invite him in, share their stories, and allow him to copy their photos.

Eventually it made sense to collect these into books. Okanagan Roots was first produced by the Western and Webco West Press in 1987, with an initial print run of about 3,500. Doug has reprinted the book twice under his own imprint, Skookum Publications, selling some 9,500 copies in total.

Okanagan Roots is just one of his many titles which document the early miners, ranchers and orchardists who settled and developed BC. Rodeo Roots was compiled for the 50th anniversary of the Keremeos Elk Rodeo, while Penticton Now, Then and Way Back When provides a 100-year photo history of  Penticton and area. Mines of the Eagle Country recounts the story of the Nickel Plate and Mascot mines. S.S. Sicamous, Queen of Okanagan Lake and Wagon Train over the Monashee illustrate how traversing the area was once a lot more complicated.

While in Hawaii a few years ago, he came across the story of thousands of head of cattle being transported from Hawaii to North America; hence his latest book, Hawaiian Ranching. Although he claims this book will be his swan song, Doug has embraced the digital age. Electronic readers allow him to produce his books with colour photos, and he has combined older titles into new editions.

Doug no longer knocks on doors. Instead, he has become an archive magnet, with people bequeathing him their collections. Today, his vast inventory presents a problem. “I am not an archivist,” he says; he knows where to locate specific photos, slides and interview tapes, but he’s looking for help cataloguing and storing these treasures—perhaps with digital copies to protect the collection against loss. ~Dawn Renaud

Related Post

About The Author


Okanagan Life captures the essence of life in the Okanagan Valley with informative and entertaining features on issues that matter to people who live or vacation in this great region, plus stories on Okanagan destinations, personalities, wine, food, history, outdoor recreation and more. We’re now in our 30th year of publishing. Subscribe

30,000 giveaway for small business okanagan

Current Issue

yearly-subscribeDigital Edition - Yearly Subscription

Each month, we're giving away 30 free annual subscriptions to celebrate our 30th year in publishing! With a digital subscription, you can enjoy Okanagan Life on your tablet.

Upcoming Events

7:30 pm Cheng² Duo @ Frank Venables Theatre
Cheng² Duo @ Frank Venables Theatre
Jan 19 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Cheng² Duo @ Frank Venables Theatre | Oliver | BC | Canada
Friday January 19, 2018 – 7:30 CHENG² DUO Presented by the South Okanagan Concert Society Committed to bringing classical music to 21st-century audiences through innovative programming and engaging presentations, Canadian classical pianist and cellist Silvie[...]
10:00 am The 2018 Scotties Tournament of ... @ South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC)
The 2018 Scotties Tournament of ... @ South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC)
Jan 27 @ 10:00 am – Feb 4 @ 1:00 pm
The 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts @ South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC) | Penticton | BC | Canada
The country’s best women’s curling teams will not only be chasing a Canadian championship, they’ll also be playing under a new format at the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Penticton, B.C. The Canadian women’s[...]
7:30 pm The Paperboys @ Rotary Centre for the Arts
The Paperboys @ Rotary Centre for the Arts
Jan 27 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
The Paperboys @ Rotary Centre for the Arts | Kelowna | BC | Canada
Celebrating their 25th anniversary year, Vancouver Canadian musician Tom Landa, is looking back on the legacy of his much-loved folk rock band The Paperboys. For a quarter century, The Paperboys have been touring the world[...]
7:30 pm Misery: Theatre Series @ Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre
Misery: Theatre Series @ Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre
Jan 30 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Misery: Theatre Series @ Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre | Vernon | BC | Canada
The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre proudly presents Arts Club Theatre’s production of Misery on Tuesday, January 30 at 7:30pm. Misery is the third performance in the Society’s 2017/18 Theatre series. Written by William[...]


Error: Please enter a valid email address

Error: Invalid email

Error: Please enter your first name

Error: Please enter your last name

Error: Please enter a username

Error: Please enter a password

Error: Please confirm your password

Error: Password and password confirmation do not match