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A Pictorial History of Kelowna BC

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Click image for a larger view. Map of a portion of the Southern Interior of British Columbia embodying the explorations made in 1877 by G. M. Dawson, and in 1882-4 by Amos Bowman
Contains information licensed under the Open Government License - Canada.
View complete map in PDF Format
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The Oblate Missionaries Father Pandosy, Father Richard and Brother Surel, arrived in the Okanagan in October 1859. The site they chose for a Mission was known as L'Anse au Sable. With the building of the Mission, the name Okanagan Mission came into use to describe the whole area for miles around. It was not until 1892 that the town site of Kelowna was laid out. On completion of the drafted plans of the town site the all important matter of a name had to be considered. A number of settlers recalled an incident involving one August Gillard who had pre-empted property here thirty years earlier.

August Gillard had made snug winter quarters in a sort of underground soddy, similar to the First Nations' Kekuli or Kickwillie. A group of passing Okanagan Natives seeing smoke issuing from the dwelling stopped to see who lived there. Hearing the chattering going on outside Gillard, all fur and whiskers, emerged, whereupon they delightedly shouted "Kim-ach-Touch, Kim-ach-Touch" or "Brown Bear, Brown Bear". This First Nations name struck the town planners as a possible name, but a bit of a mouthful for the average white tongue to contend with. After some discussion it was thought that "Kelowna" the Native name for Grizzly Bear would suit. So Kelowna it was, and the new town site was duly registered under that name in 1892.

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Okanagan Aboriginal's at the turn of the century.

The Valley's first people were people who migrated down from the north. First they occupied the ridges then the Valley floor as ice gradually retreated. They were hunters and gatherers of food and devised shelter and clothing to suit their life style. Deer, fish, roots and berries were food sources, the tanned hides of the deer providing much of the clothing. Their life style changed radically with the beginning of white settlement.

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In 1811 David Stuart of the Pacific Fur Company traveled the Okanagan.  He is the first recorded white man to see the Valley.  He established a route, later to be known as the Brigade trail through the Valley to Kamloops.  Over this trail passed large trains of men and horses, bringing goods in and furs out.

Originally Published by Kelowna Centennial Museum
Art: Gwen Lamont - Research, Compiling and Editing: Ursula Surtees
Compiling & Editing for the Internet by Marty van Mulder