Penticton hospital receives half million donation from Kaleden man

Douglas Dewar made an incredibly generous $500,000 donation to the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) Medical Foundation.

Douglas Dewar

Douglas Dewar

From barges to helicopters, Douglas Dewar’s business background extends well beyond the picturesque locale of the Banbury Green campground in Kaleden.

Dewar has made an incredibly generous $500,000 donation to the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) Medical Foundation’s $20-million campaign to provide medical equipment for the new Patient Care Tower at Penticton Regional Hospital.

Dewar’s family involvement with the Banbury property extends back to the early 1940s when the lakefront plot was purchased by his parents.

Living in Vancouver, Douglas’s mother, Amy, developed a lung ailment while his father was away during the Second World War.  Seeking a drier climate, she came to Penticton and stayed at the old Incola Hotel.

“Out of pure boredom, she took up horseback riding. One day she rode down here (to Kaleden) and found Banbury Point.”

Captain F.C. Banbury was killed overseas during the First World War and irrigation water to the farm had been shut down. The nearly 70-acre property was basically abandoned. Amy Dewar contacted Banbury’s parents in England and they agreed to sell the Kaleden property.

Construction of the Dewars’ home was completed in 1941. Douglas attended Penticton High School in 1942 and ’43, before he went to live with his grandmother in West Vancouver where he graduated from high school and went onto UBC for five years.

Douglas Dewar found employment with the Standard Oil Company in 1952.  In 1960, he married Looe Baker, whose father, Ralph Baker, was the president of the company.  “I didn’t think that it was a good thing to work for a company where your father-in-law was the CEO,” he said with a laugh.

Dewar then went into the oil barge business, serving remote communities and logging camps up and down the B.C. coast.  He also became involved with several other companies over the years, including Okanagan Helicopters, which would later become known as Canadian Helicopters (now HNZ).

Douglas Dewar served as a company director from 1967 to 1981. He and partner John Pitts eventually acquired control of the helicopter firm even though they only owned about 6.5 per cent of the shares at the time.

“In the late 1970s, it became a top 100 Canadian company on the TSX,” he recalled. “When we sold that company, I think we had over 100 machines (helicopters).”

All the while, Douglas and his family would travel up to Kaleden each summer to stay at his family home at Banbury Point.

By the mid-1980s, taxes on the lakefront property jumped dramatically and they opted to open the Banbury Green campground as an additional source of income. The beautiful treed property includes a vineyard and 65 campsites with three full-time year-round employees.

Now retired at age 87 and residing most of the year in the family’s 75-year-old house, Douglas is pleased to donate to the SOS Medical Foundation’s campaign.

His mother Amy died in Penticton Regional Hospital in 1960, while his wife Looe passed away at PRH in May 2014.

“I believe charity should always begin at home,” he said. “I’m quite happy to spend my money in Penticton.”

Construction of the new Patient Care Tower at PRH will get underway next spring and should be completed by late 2019.

The SOS Medical Foundation welcomes all donations. Naming opportunities are also in place, in which applications can be made to name rooms and clinics in the hospital for those who donate at least $30,000. For more information call 250-492-9027.