Kobayashi, Denbei

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Kobayashi, Denbei

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1878-1968

History

Denbei Kobayashi was born on September, 10, 1878 in Nagano-ken, Japan. He grew up working on his familys silk worm farm, and later briefly became a gold miner on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Kobayashi emigrated to Canada in 1906, where he initially made his living by fishing. After working construction for the Canadian Pacific Railway, he found employment at the Coldstream Ranch in the Okanagan, before moving to Okanagan Centre to work at the Grandview Hotel. Kobayashi also worked at the Rainbow Ranch in the same area, as well as for Mr. Goulding in Oyama. He was then awarded a contract by the Okanagan Valley Land Co. in Winfield to plant 800 acres of fruit trees.

In 1913 he temporarily returned to Japan to marry Hiro Yanagisawa, and in 1914 they bought orchard property in the Okanagan. Kobayashi concentrated on fruit growing for the rest of his career. His family home became a social centre in the area, playing host to everyone from Japanese consuls to ordinary folk. After being converted by Methodist missionaries in Japan, Kobayashi became a devoted member of the United Church in the Okanagan. He was also a writer and supporter of the ancient Japanese literature and poetry known as haiku, and judged entries from across Canada in addition to organizing a local group of such writers in 1921.

In 1966 Kobayashi was bestowed with a citation and a silver medal by the Prince Takamatsu, brother to the Japanese emperor, for his work regarding agricultural development. Kobayashi died on January 4, 1968, leaving behind three sons and four daughters. He was predeceased by his wife in 1960.

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