Kelowna Historic Sites
A past worth exploring.
How did Kelowna, BC, get to be one of the nation’s most enchanting cities? Find out for yourself by taking a tour through Kelowna’s rich and diverse history.
In 1860 Father Charles Pandosy, an Oblate missionary, founded this site where priests ministered to the area’s Indian population and to the growing number of settlers. At its most prosperous the Mission farm held roughly 2,000 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. Now a Provincial Heritage Site, visitors can wander the four-acre property and see some of the original buildings.
Guisachan Heritage Park
This spectacular 2.4 acre site offers garden tours, special events, and tantalizing cuisine available in the Guisachan House Restaurant. The park was home to the Earl and Countess of Aberdeen who bought the land in 1890.
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 is estimated to be built in the late 1870’s or early 1890’s. This historic site also includes a fine restaurant and Milk shed Gift Shop.
Myra Canyon is the jewel of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail – part of the Trans Canada Trail and also a key to the provincial Spirit of 2010 Trail network created by the province of BC as a tool for community economic development and to promote adventure tourism for non-motorized users. It is also part of the Myra Bellevue Provincial Park managed by BC Parks. It includes a distance of roughly 9 kilometers, 18 trestles and 2 tunnels. Myra Canyon was one of the greatest engineering challenges in the history of railway construction.
It formed part of the Kettle Valley Railway line built in the early 1900’s. During the forest fires of 2003, Myra Canyon was almost virtually destroyed. Twelve of eighteen trestles were burned to the ground and the fire created significant slope instability and rock damage throughout the canyon. Prior to its destruction, it was recognized one of Canada’s most outstanding achievements in engineering and construction and had become a national tourism attraction attracting over 50,000 visitors annually. Myra Canyon serves as a critical component of the world class recreation trail network for British Columbia.
The 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 1953 and the steeple replaced during restoration in the early 1980’s. Benvoulin Church is located at what was once the Benvoulin Town site, which was laid out by pioneer land promoter, Mr. G.G. McKay. This is also the site of the McIver House, (1890’s) one of the city’s unique heritage settings. It is also home to Xeriscape and Heritage Gardens.
Restored in 1986, this charming pioneer church has become one of the most popular locations for weddings. Though right in the city, it offers a historical location in a country setting. The tall steeple on this white shiplap building has been a landmark for over a century.
The Laurel Building
Kelowna’s first designated heritage building was established in 1913 as a packing and shipping house for BC Fruit Growers Ltd. It houses the Wine Museum and the British Columbia Orchard Industry Museum, which celebrate the area’s most important – and flourishing – economic mainstays.