Peo Barrera was born in 1930 on the Barrera family farm, located between Casorso Road and Lakeshore Road in Kelowna, BC. He attended Mission Creek School on the corner of K.L.O. and Benvoulin Roads. Life at that time was routine - chores in the morning milking cows, school during the days, then, more chores after school. He hung out with his older brother, Camillo, and his best friend, John Risso, playing marbles and other games. At age sixteen, he joined the Air Cadets, but one ride in an airplane was enough for Peo to know that the Air Cadets was not for him. After attending Kelowna Senior Secondary, he spent his days working on the farm.
Peo met his wife, Mary, quite by accident. In 1960, Mary’s mother, Nellie Kolody, saw an ad for a pen pal in the Free Press Weekly – Prairie Report, a newspaper that served the western provinces. Nellie dared her daughter to answer the ad and that she did. Peo and Mary began to exchange letters about farm life, for many months. When Mary’s father found out he was none too pleased but said to his daughter, “If you like this man, we should go and meet him.” So, the Kolodys took the train to Kelowna in the summer of 1960. Apparently, Peo passed the “good enough for his daughter” test and the letters resumed back and forth. Peo traveled to Bremen, Saskatchewan, to see Mary and her family, in November 1960. They got engaged on that trip. Peo and Mary were married in Cudworth, Saskatchewan, on February 11, 1961. There had been a blizzard the week leading up to the wedding, but the weather cleared up and was sunny for the ceremony.
Peo & Mary moved into their house on Lakeshore Road close by the Barrera farm. Their son, John, was born in December 1961. Daughter, Gina, was born in December 1962 with their youngest child, Cindy, following in April 1964.
Peo worked at Byland’s Nurseries and then at Ellison Lake Sawmill. After that, he was hired by Canada Post as a letter carrier. After the farm was sold in 1968, Peo & Mary moved their family to the Belgo area of Rutland, then, to their house on Pinetree Road. In 1974, they built their house in Okanagan Mission and settled there for quite a few years. In 1997, they made the decision to leave Kelowna and move to Calgary, Alberta, to be closer to all their children.
Peo & Mary both had a life-long love of gardening and growing things. They moved to their condo in the 2000s, and had to give up their flower and vegetable gardens. Seeing a void in their lives, their daughter, Cindy, graciously offered them her back yard to putter in, and they affectionately became known as “The Yard Crew”.
Peo Barrera passed away on June 19, 2022. Mary still lives in their condo, where she enjoys many visits with her children and grandchildren. She also talks, frequently, with her great grandchildren by phone (no computer for her!).
Contributed by Cindy Barrera Parmelee, daughter
770 Lawrence Ave.