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Kelowna British Columbia history

Kelowna Population

Kelowna, British Columbia is a beautiful city rich with its own unique history and culture. Currently, Kelowna has a population of 132,084, but it came a long way to reach this size. It is currently the third most populous city in British Columbia behind only Vancouver and Victoria. It is the 17th largest city in the country. In order to truly appreciate the area, you should learn as much as possible.

Kelowna rests on fresh water Okanagan Lake. Lake Okanagan made Kelowna a good place for people who wanted to trade with other locations, helping to increase the population with time. The city itself is 211.82 square kilometers. Knox Mountain, Black Mountain, and the lake come together with the forests to make the city especially beautiful. The mountains are generally topped with snow and make a great backdrop behind the lake. The area is lush. It also has amazingly fresh air and plenty of wildlife.


AGRICULTUREThe city grew because of the agricultural possibilities it offered. The city still takes advantage of these natural bounties. 55% of the city is zoned for agriculture. This means that there is plenty of food grown right here at home. Grapes are a very popular crop. This is why there are so many great local wines. In May and June, you can also find fresh grown fruit, mushrooms, lettuce, asparagus, herbs, and, of course, flowers. You may even find some wild mushrooms or asparagus. The produce is often sold from stands alongside the roads including Benvoulin Rd in South East Kelowna and KLO RD in the Springfield Spall area, Gordon drive in Lower Mission and at local Farmers Markets.
Tobacco was once a very popular crop in the area, too. There were two large factories designated for tobacco. At one point, they produced 800 cigars a day. Push back forced the factories to eventually close down.


Canada is known for being cold, but the city enjoys all four seasons. There are cold winters and hot summers. The winter once reached a frigid -36.1 degrees Celsius in December of 1968. However, the average temperature in December is .7 degrees Celsius. December and January tend to be quite cloudy. Being in a valley and next to a lake, there is a persistent cloud these months. The hottest recorded temperature was 41 degrees Celsius in the August of 1998. However, the average temperature is 27.6 degrees Celsius. Lake Okanagan completely froze over in the year of 1969. There's a possibility of froze over one other time in 1986. This is extremely rare so you won’t find skating or ice fishing on the lake.

Having all four seasons gives a lot of opportunity for both summer and winter seasons. There is plenty of agriculture and summer activities. With the lake right there, people can go swimming and fishing, sailing, water skiing, Jet Ski, paddle boarding or kayaking. In the winter, the people definitely need to pack a winter coat. They can also enjoy winter sports, such as skiing at Big White or outdoor ice skating in downtown Kelowna North at City Park


SETTLEMENTThe city was officially founded on May 5, 1905. However, there were people living in the area well before that. It is thought that the native Sylix people dwelled in the area as long as 9000 years ago. They hunted and fished as nomads during the warmer months until they retired to small villages of pit houses called kekulis. They lived off of deer meat, fish, berries, and roots. Many of the people from this tribe still reside in this area and do their best preserve the culture.

However, the language and culture are at a risk. These people are the ones who gave the city its name. It means “grizzly bear” in their original language. This happened because they mistook a lone wanderer as a bear when he was in his tent. Only about 150 people are still fluent in the language today. Since the name of the city means “grizzly bear”, there is a grizzly bear statue beside the outdoor skating the heart of downtown.

After the natives settled, Europeans soon discovered what a beautiful area it was and started to settle here, too. The first European to settle here was a missionary named Father Pandosy. He came on a mission to help convert the natives and local traders. He was joined by Father Richard and Brother Surel. You can even see some of the original buildings they established at the Father Pandosy Mission Provincial Heritage Site. It was a difficult first winter for the missionaries in 1859. The winter was harsh, and the nearby Duck Lake was frozen. The efforts were appreciated. To this day, 40.3% of the population is Protestant. 19.2% of the population is Catholic. After the religious leaders came to the area, it brought attention to it. People started to realize that it had a lot of potential for agriculture. The soil was fruitful. It was also a great place for fur traders to come together with the water right nearby. The beautiful scenery didn’t hurt, either. David Stuart was the first person to establish a route to the area in 1811. Once established, people started to come. As the fur trade grew in popularity, the population grew slightly. After the fur trade, the gold rush encouraged even more people to take the trail that Stuart created. Before there was a hospital, Dr. Benjamin Joyce came to the area in 1894. He was the only doctor to service everyone in the area. He would visit the people who were sick on his horse. Finally, the hospital was built in 1908. With the hospital came more and more construction in the area. This included small shops, restaurants, and schoolhouses.
When it was founded in 1905, it only had a population of 600 people. Henry Raymer was the first mayor. People continued to relocate to this area. There is population growth every ten years. After WWII, there was a large boom in population. Most of the population growth came from other areas of Canada as opposed to internationally.


Politics in the area tend to lead to the more liberal side of things. The area benefits with free healthcare and free education. However, they have multiple political parties and hold regular elections. While there is a local government, they are part of the British Columbia government. There have been a number of popular politicians to govern the area. William Andrew Cecil Bennett was a beloved hardware merchant who became extremely involved in his community. He went on to be the Social Credit Premier for British Columbia in 1952. He continued to lead for 20 years. His son William Richard Bennett followed in his footsteps.

Taking care of the native people has always been a priority in the area. In 2005, National Aboriginal Leaders and the First Ministers signed the Kelowna Accord.

This document was designed to help the living conditions of aboriginal people by using government funds to support education, employment, and housing for these people.




CULTURENaturally, there is a large aboriginal culture in this city. As they were the first people to settle the area, the city makes a point to keep the culture alive. While only 6.3% of the population is aboriginal, they have left a large impact. To this day, people will still eat traditional native foods. They also still follow some of the folklore. For example, the Ogopogo is a mythical demon of the lake is still a common myth in the area.

Settlers from all over Europe also helped make a significant contribution to the area. These people helped influence the culture in Canada that we know today, bringing that to this quaint little city.

There is also a sister city agreement with both Kasugai, Japan and Veendam, Netherlands. This essentially means. that the city officially promises to promote the cultures of those other cities in its own city. All of these cultures come together to combine with the European culture to create a unique blend of people that you cannot find anywhere else. It is the people that make a place great.


As with any substantial city, there are plenty of good restaurants and wineries in the area. RauDZ Regional Table offers a comfortable fine dining option. It’s great for any special occasion. They also make a point to choose food and wines made locally to keep things as fresh and delicious as possible. This is a place to wear a fancy suit or dress. Mad Mango Cafe offers casual dining with a flair for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They offer American-style breakfast and Asian fashion dishes for lunch and dinner. You can also go to the Cactus Club Cafe and boat club for a fresh passion fruit bellini. You can enjoy your drink while sitting outside on the waterfront. The cafe is in the heart of downtown right next to the water. There are a number of other places in the area to enjoy as well. The Craft Breweries have become very popular with the locals and vacationers. Be sure to try as many as possible to find your favorites.


There are a number of things to do in the city. It's a particularly great place for people who enjoy boating. The lake is made for anyone who wants to enjoy some time on a yacht or a boat or live in a waterfront home or condo. Relax and have drinks and hang out with friends. If you want to meet people, one of the best ways to do it is to join the Kelowna Yacht club. The Kelowna Yacht Club is the country’s largest freshwater marina and is currently celebrating 75 years of service to the area. It’s the perfect way to meet people and enjoy the best leisure in the area. It’s not all about boating. Join the book club and watch local performances. In summer the Lake is the main feature of sports entertainment and swimming. If you aren’t particularly fond of boating, there are still plenty of things to do. People who love the outdoors will love hiking through the woods and the mountains. You can camp in the area and really explore it. You can connect with nature, and you may even get to see some of the animals in the area. You may be able to find bears, coyotes, deer, bobcats, cougars, marmots, and geese.


During the holidays, get into the spirit by going with the people you love to Stuart Park ice rink. In the off season, you and the kids will enjoy the park, with bike riding, summer concerts and festivals. too.
While here, feel free to help the local community. There are a number of charitable organizations that support children, homeless, and the poor. When you get involved in the community, you will feel even more connected.
For the golfer in the family, there are a number of golf clubs in the area. Since the weather gets cold in the winter, plan to visit in the spring or summer if you want to golf. You can enjoy the fresh air while playing golf and socializing with friends.
The area gets a substantial amount of snow in the winter. That makes it a perfect place to go skiing and snowboarding. The Big White and Silver Star ski resorts are nearby. 


The Stubbier House is a popular landmark. It was built in 1913 by Robin Holford Stubbs. It’s representative of the architectural style of the time. While it has been fixed up in time, it still retains much of its original materials. It is now a place where people can go to see what building looked like in the early 1900s.

The tallest building in between Vancouver and Calgary is the Skye Tower at the Waterscapes. It is a 27 story residential building with luxury lakeview condominiums. Knox Mountain Park is a beautiful location to hike and look at the amazing views of Lake Okanagan and the mountains. Don’t forget to stop by Mission Creek Falls to see another beautiful site.

Kelowna’s Original Farmers and Crafter’s Market is a great place to get fresh foods and homemade crafts. If you decide to move into the area, you may even decide to get involved. When you shop here, you are supporting the people in the community.

The famous Presbyterian church at Benvoulin was resurrected in 1892. The church was restored after almost being abandoned. Now, it is one of the most popular churches in the area. They still have regular services. Many people choose this location for wedding and baptism services, too. It’s a great place to enhance your spiritual side when living in the area. 


Kelowna orchards have evolved from apples to grapes. The weather conditions and sloped hills are ideal conditions for award winning wineries. Visiting the wineries for tastings is a very popular tourist attraction and is enjoyed by the locals as well.

The Okanagan Wine and Orchard Museum at 1304 Ellis St in Kelowna gives people the opportunity to learn how wine is made in the area. You can see old machinery and other items, such as bottle toppers. It’s not only about the wine, though. The museum also has a bee hive when the time is right. Don’t forget to get your own wine and honey for home.


The original transportation in the area were steamboats. This was the easiest method since the city is right on the large lake. This was how people would travel from one side of the lake to the other. One of the largest and more popular boats was the S.S. Aberdeen. It could hold 250 and 180 tonnes of cargo. It was used between 1893-1916. Eventually, in 1916, railroads were finished and the train became one of the most popular methods of travel. Located in Upper Mission, the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society is a historical landmark for train lovers to learn more.

After some time, cars became much more prevalent. There are two main highways to get to the city: Highway 33 and Highway 97. Both of them lead to the downtown. In 2005, a new bridge was constructed. It was named the William R. Bennet Bridge and increased the amount of lanes from three to five. This was necessary to accommodate the large amount of people moving to the area.
If flying, you can fly right into the airport where there are over 70 flights daily. The airport also houses the weather center for the city. The weather center is slightly higher in altitude, making it have a slightly lower temperature at night than the rest of the city. 


Canada makes education a top priority. In fact, they spend more money per person on education than any other country in the top eight industrialized countries. They understand that when people are educated, they will be more useful members of society. The University of British Columbia Okanagan is one of the top six universities in North America. However, being such a good school, it is slightly more selective. There is also Okanagan College for people looking for business degrees and trades professions. Both campuses offer a variety of courses to people who live in Canada. 


There are a number of popular people who come from this beautiful city. Evangeline Lily is an actress who played in some extremely popular movies, such as The Hobbit. Hockey players Darren Jensen, Josh Gorges, and Steve Bozek. While some of these people may have moved away from home for their careers, there is a part of them who will always have part of their hometown in their heart 


There was once a wwwastating sonic boom that took the city by surprise. It happened when one of the famous Blue Devil flyers went through the sound barrier and caused a lot of glass to crack. The accident injured at least six people.

Being in the middle of the forest, there are forest fires on occasion. It’s best to get insurance in the case of a disaster. The last major fire was in 2017 and forced over 747 people to evacuate their homes. The fires should not be considered a serious threat.

Luckily, there are not many other natural disasters that take place in this area. They are lucky enough not to be in the path of tornados. They also don’t experience hurricanes since they are not near the ocean. On occasion, the area may experience a blizzard in the winter. 


Next to Kelowna is the smaller city of West Kelowna. It’s a place for people who want to live close to the city but not quite in it. This gives people the feel of a suburb while being close enough for work and culture. The city also has plenty of fun things to do on its own merits. It also provides the same beautiful scenery you get to see while in the city. Real estate in this area is sometimes slightly less expensive.

There are a number of reasons to move to this city. The homes are reasonably priced, and you get to live in one of the most gorgeous locations on earth. If you like nature, fresh food and wine, and good people, this is the place for you. The Kelowna history is what shaped the place into the city it is today. The native peoples and the other people who made their way to the location saw an area rich in possibility and made it one of the most beautiful and great places to live. 

Kelowna’s Timeline

1859: Father Pandosy started settlement with one of the first missions. It can still be viewed today at the Mission Heritage Park on Benvoulin Road.

1905: Kelowna incorporated with a population of 600 people.

1925: Railway lines were brought in to aid transportation.

1945-1946: Housing was offered to veterans returning from World War II through the War Veteran’s Resettlement Committee.

1958: Canada’s first floating bridge was opened by WAC Bennett and Princess Margaret connecting Kelowna to the Westside. The bridge is 7/8 of a mile long.The lift span is 265 feet long and can be raised to provide 60 feet of vertical clearance. The Kelowna population increased to 10,000 after the bridge opened.

1960: The airport was opened with local flights and is continually expanding. Over 1 million passengers pass through the airport annually.

2005: Direct flights to Toronto and Montreal and international flights to Seattle were introduced.

2005: UBC opened the North Campus with university programs. 2008: A new bridge is built between Kelowna and West Kelowna. It has eliminated the need for the old bridge to stop traffic for sailboats passing underneath and helps with traffic flow The population as of 2013 is 125,000 and increasing daily because Kelowna is a great place to raise a family or to retire. 2011: Direct flights to Germany introduced


1. A first class museum

2. A live professional theatre

3. Okanagan Symphony Orchestra

4. Art gallery

5. Facilities for sporting events and conventions

6. H20 Kelowna 50 meter pool

7. Kelowna airport with direct flights to Montreal & Toronto, international flights to USA, Mexico,and Europe.

8. Okanagan College

9. University of British Columbia Okanagan UBCO

10. Wine industry

11. Kelowna General Hospital

12. Cancer clinic

13. 78,500 acres of farm land