Kelowna


KELOWNA ( ) is located on the east side of OKANAGAN LK halfway between PENTICTON and VERNON, about 395 km from VANCOUVER via the COQUIHALLA HWY. It is BC's most populous city outside the Lower Mainland (VICTORIA is larger only if its metropolitan area is counted; SAANICH has more residents but is incorporated as a district rather than a city). The name derives from an aboriginal word meaning "grizzly BEAR." The first outsider to visit the area was the fur trader David Stuart in 1811, and the valley became a transport route to the Interior used by the FUR BRIGADES. Father Charles PANDOSY, an OBLATE missionary, built a mission near the site in 1860 and 2 years later planted the area's first fruit trees. However, the CATTLE INDUSTRY remained the mainstay until the first large commercial orchards were planted in the 1890s (see TREE FRUITS). A townsite was laid out in 1892, the same year the SHUSWAP & OKANAGAN RWY reached Vernon, linking the lake to the CPR mainline at SICAMOUS. Steamboats began appearing on the lake and the valley began to boom. Kelowna became a city in 1905 and expanded quickly in the pre-war period as the valley became the leading fruit-producing region in BC. The Kelowna Regatta, which included canoe and boat races, aquatic sports, a beauty contest and other events, began in 1906 and grew to become BC's major summer festival. Unruly mobs disrupted the regatta in 1986–87 and it was discontinued. Today Kelowna is the business centre of the OKANAGAN VALLEY. Fruit growing is still important and SUN-RYPE PRODUCTS LTD is a major employer. The Floating Bridge, which opened in 1958, was the first of its kind in Canada. In 2008 it was replaced by a highway overpass, the William R. Bennett Bridge. Okanagan Univ College (see COMMUNITY COLLEGES) opened its doors in 1963 and in 2005 UBC opened its Okanagan campus with 3,500 students enrolled. The mild, sunny CLIMATE (366 mm annual precipitation) attracts both TOURISTS and retirees, many from Alberta, and Kelowna is one of the fastest growing communities in BC.

Population: 106,707 (2001 metropolitan population approx. 140,000)
Rank in BC: 8th
Population increase since 2001: 10.8%
Date of incorporation: city 4 May 1905
Land area: 228.4 sq km
Location: Central Okanagan Regional District
Economic base: fruit growing and packing, lumber, manufacturing, wineries, tourism