Kelowna BC, Okanagan and Area History From 1860 - 2007

Self Guided Tours - Facts - Stats

kelowna history, okanagan, accommodations,services, resources

Historical Kelowna Self Guided Driving Tours     Okanagan History  Kelowna Industry 
   Kelowna Facts & Stats KGS Home KLO -Kelowna Land and Orchard Company      


Kelowna History

Kelowna is an Interior Salish word meaning "Grizzly Bear".

Settlement in the Kelowna area began in earnest in 1860.

Father Pandosy pre-empted land on the banks of L'Anse au Sable (Mission Creek). A number of settlers quickly followed his lead and took up similar pre-emptions along the creek. This was ideal pioneering country - just enough timber to build houses, barns and fences, open parkland vegetation for grazing livestock, and sufficient water in the Valley's major creeks,

In 1892 the townsite was laid out by Berrrard Lequime, and the town quickly became the economic hub of the central Okanagan. The City was incorporated in 1905, just at the beginning of an orcharding land boom that transformecl the entire Okanagan Valley. As irrigation systems were built, the bench and bottom lands turned from brown to green.

The district's economy turned largely around cattle ranching and grain growing in the latter half of the last century. In the 1890's however, the first efforts toward commercial fruit growing, combined with improvements in transportation, brought many new settlers to the area.

Through the two World Wars Kelowna continued to grow, but it was not until the completion of the Okanagan Lake Floating Bridge in 1958 that the City began to change dramatically and quickly. New economic challenges were seen and met, and the community now integrates both the orcharding industry and the expanding tourist and service industries.

In May, 1904, the Kelowna Land and Orchard Company purchased 6700 acres southeast of Kelowna for subdivision.  The company reserved 577 acres for its own agricultural operation.  The first fruit trees were planted in 1905 and by 1912 the orchard covered 200 acres.

One of the striking things was the large number of varieties grown.  On today's orchard it is unusual to grow more than three or four varieties of a fruit.  But the KLO orchard included ten apple varieties (Spitzenberg, Northern Spy, King David, Wealthy, Yellow Newton, McIntosh Red, Cox's Orange, Johnathan, Winesap and Delicious); three crab apples (Transcendent, Florence and Hyslop); five pears (Bartlett, Flemish Beauty, Comice, Anjou, and Boussock); seven cherries (Windsor, Lambert, Bing, Royal Anne, Black Tartarian, Olivette and English Morello): and ten plums and prunes (Peach-plum, Burbank, Tragedy, Abundance, Bradshaw, Engelbert, Black Diamond, Italian Prune, Pond's Seedling and Grand Duke).  That is thirty-five varieties in all.  Why so many?

There are several reasons why more sorts of fruit were grown in 1912 than today.  Commercial fruit growing in the Okanagan began only in the 1890's, and growers still were not sure what would perform best.  It was, therefore, prudent to plant a wider range, rather than concentrating on a few varieties which might prove unsuitable.  Today, with many more years' experience, growers can limit plantings to varieties proven productive, profitable and suitable to the climate.

Changes in market demands and storage techniques also shrank the range of varieties grown.  In 1912 much of the crop was intended not for eating straight, but for cooking and home preserving.  This explains the plantings of crab apples and sour cherries (Olivette and English Morello), neither of which are eaten uncooked.  But today almost all grown fruit is of the "dessert" class, and relatively little home preserving is done.  Commercial processing is largely a byproduct operation, aimed at salvaging unsellable cull or low quality fruit of the dessert varieties; cooking varieties are no longer grown.

Changes in storage have also reduced the number of varieties needed.  In 1912, with only "common" storage (root cellars and warehouses), it was important to grow varieties which ripened at different times.  Soft fruits and even many apples keep only a few days naturally; therefore a range was necessary not only to prevent a sudden glut but also so the consumer had fruit available for a longer period.  Apples, for example, included "summer" varieties such as Yellow Transparent, ripe in early August; "early fall' apples such as Wealthy, ripe at the end of August; main crop "fall" varieties such as McIntosh and Cox's Orange; and "winter" apples such as Spitzenberg and Winesap, which stored better and could be held for sale later in the winter.  The introduction of cold storage in the 1950s allowed the most popular varieties such as McIntosh and Delicious to be stored and sold year-round, eliminating the need for most winter varieties.

The technology of 1912 also determined orchard layout.  With open-furrow irrigation, only level or near-level land was really suitable for orchards.  Not until cheap aluminum pipe and sprinklers were introduced after World War II were slopes like the "39 Acres Arable Land" (on the map's right side) planted.

Water for furrow irrigation was distributed through the orchard by gravity-fed ditch and flume.  The "Drop Flume" (on the map's lower right) from the Upper Bench fed the system.  In rotation the different orchard blocks were watered by opening gates on the flumes and running water along furrows ploughed between the rows of trees.  Once a block was thoroughly soaked, the irrigated ground was tilled to create a "dust mulch" to slow evaporation.

An orchard constantly evolves.  By 1912 there had already been considerable revision, even though the orchard was only seven years old.  Comparison with an earlier map shows that a planting of peaches in the northeast corner had been taken out (probably because Kelowna is marginal for successful peach culture) and replaced with pears, more suited to the climate and fond of heavier soil.  Also, since the trees would take years to grow into their wide spacing (30 feet apart for sweet cherries, plums and pears), a great many "filler" trees had been planted between the permanent trees.  These fillers were early fruiting varieties; the plan was to harvest a few crops and then pull them out once the permanent trees reached full size.

Kelowna Self Guided Driving History Tours

1. Sails
This driving tour begins at a Kelowna landmark. The "Sails" is a 40 foot tall sculpture centered in the Capozzi Fountain. The work was designed and sculpted by internationally renowned artist, Bob Dow Reid. "Sails" took two years to complete and was set in place by helicopter in October 1977.


2. Abbott Street
The Abbott Street residential area holds some of Kelowna's most distinctive older homes that represent a number of architectural styles - sweeping roof lines of the Arts and Crafts movement; steep peaked gables of the Gothic Revival; beamworks of Tudor Revival; Art Deco cube shapes and, of course, the late Victorian homes with large roofs featuring hip and gable dormers.


3. Guisachan Heritage Park
Guisachan is a Gaelic word meaning "place of the firs". The house was built for Lord and Lady Aberdeen in 1891 and has many of the features of a one-story Colonial bungalow. Surrounding the house are perennial gardens featuring many of the types of flowers tended by subsequent owners of the property, the Camerons. The log house on the site was probably built in the late 1870's or early 1880's. This historic site also includes a fine resaurant and the Milkshed Gift Shop.


4. St. Andrew's Anglican Church
The initial set of plans for this church called for a log building. These plans were set aside, however, and the existing design was accepted in 1910. In February the following year about l00 people celebrated the first services in the new church. St. Andrew's has an accompanying graveyard which was consecrated in 1922 and is still in use.


5. Father Pandosy Mission
In l 860 Father Charles Pandosy, an Oblate missionary, pre-empted land suitable for mixed farming. From this site Catholic priests ministered to the area's Indian population and to the growing number of settlers. At its most prosperous the Mission farm held roughly 2000 acres. In 1908, however, the farm was sold and subdivided. By the 1950's the buildings had fallen into disrepair. Since that decade of historical revival in the province, the entire site has been refurbished.


6. McCulloch View
The view from this point looks west toward Okanagan Lake and, in the distance, the volcanic dome of Boucherie Mountain stands out clearly. The orchard land in the foreground was originally laid out just prior to World War One as the KLO Orchard (Kelowna Land and Orchard Company. This is a classic view of the Valley and has been recorded in every way from postcards to aprle box labels.


7. Orchard Drive
Much of the popular impression of the Okanagan Valley is drawn from the images seen when driving through the orchard lands. Symmetric rows of trees lend a manicured, well-established look to the region. Between 1904 and 1914 thousands of acres of these benchlands came under orcharding.


8. Mission Creek
Spawning Channels Construction of the Mission Creek Spawning Channel began in the mid 1980's when the Ministry of Environment collaborated with interested individuals and groups to revitalize the creek. This quiet setting offers a unique opportunity in mid-to late September to watch the spawning of thousands of Kokanee Salmon and to learn more about the Okanagan at The Environmental Education Centre.


9. Benvoulin Heritage Church
This was originally a Presbyterian Church. It was built in 1892 in the Gothic Revival style and served the community until 1964. The original tower was replaced in 195 and the steeple replaced during restoration in the early 1980's. Benvoulin Church is located at what was once the Benvoulin Townsite, which was laid out by pioneer land promoter, Mr. G. G. McKay. This is also the site of the Mclver House, (1890's) one of the city's unique heritage settings. It is also home to Xeriscape and Heritage Gardens.


10. Laurier Avenue
Laurier Avenue, like Abbott Street, demonstrates the ease with which building styles were transferred from place to place. The Laurier Avenue homes, however, are more modest dwellings - bungalows and the smaller, late Victorian home styles.


11. Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angels
Begun in 1911 and built of local stone, St. Michael and All Angels took two years to complete. The church was designed by W. A. Peters to reflect Gothic Revival tastes of the day. On September 27, 1987 church members were p leased to witness the dedication of this Anglican church as a cathedral.


12. C. N. R. Station
While Kelowna had rail freight service (by way of rail barges ) in the 1890's, it was not until the mid 1920's that a rail line linked Kelowna with the main lines. In 1927 the C. N. R. huilt the rail station to accommodate passengers and light freight. The building, with its distinctive double-pitch, hip roof, is typical of rail stations of the day.


13. Knox Mountain
Since before the tum of the century visitors and residents alike have been climbing Knox Mountain to take in a breathtaking view of the Okanagan Valley. The mountain was named for Mr. A. B. Knox, a pioneer farmer who used much of the mountain and Kelowna's north end as grazing land for his cattle.


14. Laurel Packinghouse, British Columbia Orchard Industry Museum & The Wine Museum
Built originally as a packinghouse in 1917 - 1918, the Laurel is Kelowna's first designated heritage building. The British Columbia Orchard Industry Museum is appropriately located in this packinghouse. and its exciting displays recount the province's long connection with this industry and its distinctive landscapes. The Wine Museum explores this region's strengthening . connection with the grape and wine industry.


15. Kelowna Museum
The Kelowna Museum offers a wide variety of displays and public programs. Exhibition themes include Natural History, Native History, Local History, plus the only Ethnography Gallery in the interior of the province. The musem also hosts temporary and travelling exhibits from other National and Intemational Museums and Art Galleries.


16. Kelowna Art Gallery
The Kelowna Art Gallery offers the city's residents and visitors a program of exhibits mounted to reflect a wide range of public tastes. It features the work of local, regional, national and intemational artists. The Gallery also manages outreach exhibitions in Kelowna City Hall and, for amateur artists, exhibition space in Kelowna General Hospital.


17. Bemard Avenue
Within a generation of the city's incorporation in 1905, the first three blocks of Bemard Avenue boasted a fine streetscape of brick buildings that reflected the town's economic success. Many of those structures were built of brick fired in the town's own brick factory, and most of those early brick buildings stand today, downtown revitalization hringing hack their historic facades.

Okanagan History

The North Okanagan was first settled in 1867 when Cornelius O'Keefe began raising cattle just 12 km from the present city of Vernon. By the turn of the century, O'Keefe and his partner owned over 20,000 acres of prime Okanagan farmland. Sixty-two acres and the original ranch buildings remain as the Historic O'Keefe Ranch, open spring through fall for tours.

Enderby and surrounding district was a tremendous wheat growing region with its own flour mill built on the banks of the Shuswap River in 1887. The Columbia Flouring Mill, as it was called, operated until 1914 when competition forced its shutdown. The area's agricultural economy then made a switch to dairy and beef, and in 1925, the Enderby Creamery was established. The Enderby & District Museum features many extensive displays of the area's early history.

Settlement in Kelowna began in 1859 when the legendary Father Charles Pandosy preempted land along the banks of what is currently Mission Creek on Benvoulin Road. Now a heritage site, Father Pandosy's Mission is open for viewing its genuine 19th century log buildings including a church, school and residence. Just a few kilometers to the north is the site of one of Kelowna's earliest ranches, acquired by John McDougall in 1861. Guisachan Heritage Park, as it is known today, was purchased from McDougall by the Earl and Countess of Aberdeen in 1890. The original Guisachan House, built in 1891, is now a popular restaurant that welcomes guests to dine in elegance, stroll through the surrounding Perennial Gardens, viewthe heritage buildings and visit the avenue of trees.

The area around Penticton was originally inhabited by the Okanagan Nations who named it 'Snpintktn', meaning 'a place to stay forever'. In 1866, Irish immigrant Tom Ellis settled here and began raising cattle. In the 1890s, Ellis entered into an agreement with the Penticton Townsite Company to dispose of some of his property and the community of Penticton was established. The original Ellis family homestead site can be found in the centre of the city at Windsor Avenue Park.

Orchardist John Moore Robinson founded the community of Summerland which was incorporated in 1907. Summerland has a long history of agricultural experimentation through the work of the Agriculture and Agrifood Canada Summerland Research Centre. Established in 1914, the research station is an impressive building overlooking the valley. The 800-acre site also boasts ornamental gardens and an interpretive centre located in the former superintendent's residence built in the 1920s. Summerland is the site of the resurgence of the Kettle Valley Railway. In May 1995, 16 kilometers of track were restored with a steam locomotive and several passenger cars in operation for daily tours.

Oliver is one of the 'youngest' settlements in the Okanagan. In 1921, Premier John Oliver envisioned a community designated for the returning World War I veterans. He recognized the region's potential and in March of 1921, the first lots were sold along the 53 km-long irrigation canal. Much of the area's history can be accessed through the Oliver Heritage Museum located in the former B.C. Provincial Police building built in 1924.

The history of Osoyoos dates back to 1861 when a customs house was built on the Canadian-USA border. Osoyoos' colorful history includes First Nations, pioneers, miners, B.C. Provincial Police, ranchers, rum runners and farmers. Many exhibits relating to the establishment of the country's boundaries can be found at the Osoyoos museum. An original log cabin from 1879 is housed within the museum along with B.C.'s only liquor distilling apparatus.

While much of the valley was involved in cattle ranching in the late 19th century, Barrington Price was building a water-powered grist mill near Keremeos. Constructed in 1877, the completely restored Grist Mill includes hands-on exhibits that portray the original operation of flour milling.

Gold was the main attraction to the areas of Princeton and Hedley. Many of the original mine buildings can be seen above the tiny community of Hedley. Princeton is one of the oldest communities in the Similkameen. It was first settled by John Fall Allison in the 1860s who established a cattle ranch on the present-day site of Princeton. The Princeton museum exhibits the life of outlaw train robber Billy Miner, whose hideout was on the hillside just outside town.


Kelowna has become the main marketing and distribution centre of the Okanagan Valley, with a flourishing tree fruit industry and a growing light industrial sector that competes on a world scale. Best known for forestry and the manufacture of boats, plastics, fibreglass, body armour and oil field equipment, Kelowna also has a growing high technology sector that includes aerospace development and service.

Kelowna's airport is the 11th busiest in Canada with approximately 35 scheduled flights a day; it's also one of the fastest growing in North America and a multi-year expansion plan is nearing completion.

Prospera Place, a 6,000-seat multi-purpose facility that's home to the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, attracts major entertainers and events to the heart of our Cultural District.

The new Rotary Centre for the Arts is a significant feature of the district, which was named a Cultural Capital of Canada in 2003.

Waterfront Park is a showcase of the area with lagoons, an outdoor amphitheatre and a wooden boardwalk that links Tugboat Beach and the residential area to the north with the Grand Okanagan Hotel and the downtown.

Stuart Park, located on the Waterfront Promenade across from City Hall on Water Street, will be developed over the next several years.

Kelowna was incorporated in May 1905 when our population consisted of 600 people and farming was the economic mainstay of the region. Today more than 100,000 people call Kelowna home and we're considered by many to be one of the most livable cities in Canada.

Kelowna Stats & Factual data:

  • Kelowna is home to 100,000 people.
  • The Central Okanagan Regional District has a population of 147,000.
  • Kelowna is well known for its hot summers and temperate winters.
  • The average daytime high during July and August is 27.40 C.
  • The average daytime high during December and January is -0.30 C. The average low is -7.70 C.
  • Kelowna receives over 2,000 hours of sunshine annually and 28 cm. (11 inches) of rain.
  • Total annual precipitation is 366.4 mm. (280.7 mm. of rain and 105.5 cm. of snow).
  • Okanagan Lake is 110 km. (68 miles) long.
  • Okanagan Lake Bridge (built in 1958) is the only floating bridge in Canada, with a floating section of 640 m. (2100 feet)
  • Kelowna encompasses 262 square km. (101 square miles)
  • Kelowna is 344 m. (1,129 feet) above sea level.
  • Kelowna General Hospital is the largest and most comprehensive in the southern interior of B.C. with a full treatment cancer clinic.
  • Kelowna is home to several local theatre groups, a symphony orchestra, a museum and numerous art galleries.
  • Okanagan University College currently operates two Kelowna campuses and offers university and transfer programs, as well as wide range of adult education and trades courses.
  • UBC Okanagan opens in the fall of 2005 at what is now the north campus of Okanagan University College
  • In the fall of 2005 Okanagan College will operate from the campus on KLO Road.

    Kelowna BC Resources

    BC British Columbia Canada Golf Schools  BC & Canada Golf Schools located in Kelowna British Columbia .CPGA professionals available for all levels of golf instruction. Stay at the Borgata Lodge  at the Quail Ridge Golf Resort.  Golf & Lessons Packages a specialty. One call does it all

    Kelowna Golf Lessons Schools   Golf Lessons for all ages and level of golfers from beginners to advanced players.  CPGA professionals to chose from, 2,3 & 4 day packages available. Central location and accommodations available

    Kelowna Vacation Rental  Vacation rentals in Kelowna BC Canada, Hotels, homes, condos & resorts. Golf, Wine tour, Spa & Ski packages available.

    Kelowna Golf Packages Your best choice for Kelowna Golf Packages, choice of all the best golf courses at the best rates, Big White Chalets Chalets & Condo Rentals at Big White ski resort. Condo and vacation rentals

    Okanagan Vacation Home Rentals  Kelowna options for vacation homes. Golf Packages, family and corporate groups welcome.  From a cozy cabin/cottage to a lakefront vacation house there are choices available for all budgets.

    Kelowna Accommodations Kelowna BC Canada Hotels, Accommodations to serve every budget. 3 - 5 star Hotels, Lakefront & Golf Resort choices Vacation packages with golf & wine tours a specialty.

    Kelowna Condo Rentals  Condo rentals for the Kelowna area, 1, 2 & 3 bedroom options, furnished. Short and Long term suites available at several locations. Borgata Lodge at Quail Ridge Golf Resort.

     Kelowna Vacation Rentals  Kelowna Vacation Rentals for holiday, business, group & couples. Romantic settings, Value accommodations - 5 star resorts. Private owned condo vacation rentals in San Jose Del Cabo Mexico, Coral Baja 5 star resort.

     Kelowna Golf Packages & Big White Chalets  Kelowna BC Golf Packages in golfing season & condos & chalets at Big White Ski Resort in ski season. Stay in Kelowna at several choices of accommodators including the Borgata Lodge at Quail Ridge Resort.

    Discovery Bay Resort Kelowna BC - Condo rentals on the lakefront in Kelowna BC Canada, 2 bedroom suite

    Kelowna Accommodation - Lodging - Hotels Kelowna Hotel & Lodging, the Borgata Lodge offers hotel accommodations in Kelowna BC Canada at Quail Ridge Resort. Kelowna Hotel closest to the airport. All suite hotel accommodations. Lodging prices serving all budgets.

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