Vernon husband and wife Jan (top) and Ken Waldon (with B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin), were among 44 provincial recipients of the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for volunteerism. The awards were presented at a special ceremony earlier in September in Victoria. (Government House Victoria photos)

Vernon husband and wife Jan (top) and Ken Waldon (with B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin), were among 44 provincial recipients of the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for volunteerism. The awards were presented at a special ceremony earlier in September in Victoria. (Government House Victoria photos)

Fintry heritage site champion loses battle with illness

Ken Waldon was the leading proponent behind the creation of Friends of the Fintry Provincial Park Society

A provincial park and heritage site could co-exist in Fintry and would be a legacy of Ken Waldon, who died last week following a brief illness, according to Fintry Manor curator Dan Bruce.

“The role of Ken and his wife Jan was absolutely crucial to creating this unique and very large historic site,” Bruce said.

“For many years they served as president and secretary of the (Friends of Fintry Provincial Park) society. They understood with a thing like this it was not like a nine-to-five job, you have to live it. And they did that with no hesitation.

He said that tenacity led to him being hired as a curator in 2002 after the Regional District of the Central Okanagan and BC Parks struck a deal to purchase the site in 2000, which in itself was fostered by the steadfast support of regional district board member and Kelowna city councillor Ben Lee.

Prior to Bruce’s arrival in 2002, the Fintry Manor, built by Scottish landowner James Dun-Waters, was largely an empty house.

“There was nothing in it at all to start but that has changed over the years. They stepped aside after a few years on the society board because they didn’t want it to become the Ken and Jan show.

READ MORE: Regional district funding phased out for Friends of Fintry

What has gone on in Fintry Provincial Park has evolved into a major heritage site on the westside shores of Okanagan Lake – a boat launch, playground, cooking shelters, shower houses and two kilometres of beach access for campers, while the manor house and octagonal dairy barn have become tourist attractions and the house itself a venue of historical artifact preservation.

Bruce said the Waldons’ connection to the site came from having their summer retreat home near the Dun-Waters estate, giving them the insight to recognize the site’s potential and historical value.

“Both Ken and Jan had a spirit and passion for giving back to the community but it was obvious in conversations and being around them that Fintry was their baby,” he said.

The Waldons were involved with a myriad of community groups in Vernon as volunteers.

With Jan, Waldon was also awarded the 2008 Central Okanagan Heritage Society Award, a life membership in Friends of Fintry, and in 2011 he and Jan were named Vernon’s Good Citizens of the Year.

They received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteerism in 2019.

“He was always calm. He never got upset. He was such a nice man, ” said Lyle Duffield, who served for years with Waldon on the Crime Stoppers board and Citizens on Patrol in Vernon.

But it’s Fintry where the Waldons created their greatest legacy, something that Friends of Fintry have taken the initiative to recognize inside the manor house.

The society has purchased a lithograph of an orchid, Ken Waldon’s favourite plant and one he grew in his greenhouse, created from the works of renowned Scottish botanical illustrator Walter Fitch.

“It will be on display when the house opens up again for tours in May,” Bruce said.

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Heritage