The gap between Summerland’s early years and present day narrowed the first week in October when two sisters from the United States placed a headstone on their great-grandfather’s grave in Peach Orchard Cemetery.
Laurel and Robert Goodrich of Baker City, Oregon, and Gale Woodworth Faber and her husband Jon Faber of Boise, Idaho, recently completed their second trip to Summerland. The couples spent nearly a week working at Peach Orchard Cemetery, restoring and resetting their relatives’ headstones and plot borders.
Their great-grandfather was Laurie Clifford “L.C.” Woodworth, an early settler of Summerland. He arrived from Aylesford, Nova Scotia, in 1910 with his wife, Margaret, two sons and a little daughter. He settled on Giant’s Head, slightly below the location of Okanagan College. He also owned orchard land in the valley. He operated Giant’s Head Skating Rink for a short time. Laurie and his family prospered and expanded their businesses and land. He started a butcher shop and at one time had a beef contract with the work camps while the Kettle Valley Railroad was being laid. He won numerous prizes for his apples at both the Summerland and Penticton fairs. He built many of the cottages used by the Okanagan College.
The family lost their little daughter Susie Anabelle in August, 1910, from a rattlesnake bite and in March, 1911, Margaret also died. Their graves are in the south end of Peach Orchard Cemetery.
Laurie married his second wife Mary in Vernon. Margaret Page was born in 1913. He traveled a lot, going to Calgary and Edmonton to buy and ship railcars of beef, hogs and sheep back to Summerland. He bought and sold horses, even buying a carload of horses known for their gentleness so they could be used by school children.
Laurie’s oldest son Cyril joined the 172nd Rocky Mountain Rangers in early 1916 and completed training at the military camp in Vernon. He shipped out to England that summer. While he served overseas, his father was killed in a hunting incident at Shingle Creek Sept. 12, 1916. Laurie was 38 years old. The coroner ruled it an accidental death but his obituary makes it seem the proper questions were never asked, let alone answered. The circumstances surrounding his death have remained a family mystery.
His great granddaughters have traced much of his history through the Summerland Museum with the assistance of museum staffers Ruth ten Veen and Sharon Stone. Issues of the Summerland Review at the museum also helped in the search. The breakthrough in the search came when Deb DeFerro from Public Works produced a handwritten ledger from a cemetery caretaker showing where Laurie was buried.
Laurie K. Woodworth (grandson) and his wife Cora and Kevin Woodworth (great-grandson) and his wife Ruth and great-granddaughters with their husbands purchased the headstone that now marks Laurie’s final resting place. After 95 years a piece of Summerland’s history is preserved for the next generation.