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Partner City

Penticton

A Place to Stay Forever


Located in the sunshiney South Okanagan between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake, the city of Penticton is one of the only cities in the world to be nestled between two lakes. The area has been home to the Syilx Okanagan First Nations for millenia. The first European to settle in the area was Tom Ellis, an Irish immigrant who preempted land here in 1866 and went on to become known as the "Cattle King of the Okanagan". When Ellis eventually sold his land in 1892 and retired from ranching, developers laid out a small townsite on the shores of Okanagan Lake. Penticton was incorporated as a town in 1908, and soon grew into a thriving community with the arrival of the Kettle Valley Railway, the headquarters of which were located here. Today, the city is known for its orchards and vineyards, its event culture, and its long sandy beaches.

This project was made possible through a partnership with Visit South Okanagan, with support from Travel Penticton and the City of Penticton. We also thank the Penticton Lakeside Resort Hotel & Conference Centre for their support.

We acknowledge that Penticton is within the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territory of the Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation.

Stories

By Waves and Rails


Like many Canadian towns, Penticton's early growth and prosperity was largely due to transportation. Yet unlike the many railway towns of Alberta, Penticton's role as a transportation hub included travel over the waves as well as the rails. In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, transportation in the South Okanagan revolved around the lakes, which provided easy, reliable access to communities throughout the region. As such, Penticton's wharves, located at the far south end of the Okanagan Lake, became a place of bustle and business.



From Fruit to Wine: An Evolution


Peachland Museum

Today, the South Okanagan is known for its dozens of wineries, vineyards, and orchards. Many of its hillsides are covered with orderly lines of fruit trees and trellises interwoven with grape vines. Travellers from around the world come to enjoy wine tours and fresh cherries from roadside stands. But how did the Okanagan, with its desert-like ecosystems and grassy ranges covered in cactus, become the largest producer of fruit and wine in Canada?



Penticton's Event Culture


Ever since Penticton's early days, local events and celebrations have been a big part of the community. Events tied to agriculture and the outdoor landscape have taken place since the early twentieth century in Penticton, which is perhaps not surprising given the region's unique ecosystems and an economy which has always been based around agriculture.






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Penticton


Then and Now Photos

View from Vancouver Hill


View from Vancouver Hill View from Vancouver Hill
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society PEN 185

1907

This view of Penticton was taken in 1907 from Vancouver Hill, looking northwest towards the Okanagan Lake. The Penticton hotel is on the far right on the photo, with the Welby Barn to the left of it, and the town laid out beyond.

A General Store


A General Store A General Store
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society PEN 576

1906

The building in this photograph was a general store belonging to Alfred Wade, who was Penticton's first reeve. Note the wood plank sidewalks and the two men on horses farther down the street.

Main Street Looking North


Main Street Looking North Main Street Looking North
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society PEN 189

1911

This photograph from 1911 looks north down Main Street towards Okanagan Lake. An early car and a wagon travel down the road, and the Bank of Montreal is to the left of the street, with the Bank of Commerce on the right.

Steamships on Okanagan Lake


Steamships on Okanagan Lake Steamships on Okanagan Lake
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Peachland Museum P0279

1914

This photo shows the steamships the SS Sicamous and the SS Okanagan in Okanagan Lake, with the Sicamous at the CPR wharf and the Okanagan astern. The SS Okanagan was constructed in 1907, while the SS Sicamous joined the CPR fleet in 1914. The vessels were an important part of Okanagan life, providing reliable, luxurious travel between otherwise isolated communities.

Sailboats on the Okanagan Lake


Sailboats on the Okanagan Lake Sailboats on the Okanagan Lake
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Peachland Museum P0018

1915

This photograph from 1915 shows seven sailboats on the Okanagan Lake near Penticton.

Okanagan River Bridge


Okanagan River Bridge Okanagan River Bridge
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society PEN 203

1925

This photograph from 1925 shows the old lift span bridge which used to cross over the Okanagan River off of Lakeshore Drive.

The Incola Hotel


The Incola Hotel The Incola Hotel
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society PEN 020

1928

This photograph shows the Canadian Pacific Railway hotel, the Incola, which was situated near both the wharves and the railway station, making it an ideal spot for travellers to spend the night. At the end of Martin Street, you can see both the SS Sicamous and the Tug Naramata at the dock. Travellers bound farther north up the Okanagan Lake would often stay overnight at the Incola before boarding the SS Sicamous in the morning.

A View Over Lake Skaha


A View Over Lake Skaha A View Over Lake Skaha
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Peachland Museum

1926

This view over Skaha Lake shows young orchards growing in the foreground. Today, most of these hills are covered instead with the grapevines of vineyards and wineries.

The First Airmail


The First Airmail The First Airmail
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society AIR 112

1935

This photograph shows the first flight from Penticton which left for the purpose of delivering mail. The postmaster stands beside the plane, ready to hand his parcels to the pilot. The Air Mail Service division of Canada's postal service officially opened in 1929. Air mail cost five cents an ounce.

Main and the Three Gables Hotel


Main and the Three Gables Hotel Main and the Three Gables Hotel
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society PEN 666

1938

This photograph shows the 300 block of Main Street, looking north towards the lake. The Three Gables Hotel, on the left of the street, opened in 1933 and was in operation until it was destroyed by fire in 2000. Farther down the street is the Capitol Theatre, which was opened in 1937, just a year before this photo was taken.

Skaha Beach


Skaha Beach Skaha Beach
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society PEN 249

1940

This photo shows swimmers at Skaha Beach in 1940 enjoying the waters and sands of the lake shore.

Peach Festival Dancing


Peach Festival Dancing Peach Festival Dancing
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Penticton Museum Archives 2364

1948

This photograph shows a busy Main Street during Penticton's annual Peach Festival, as festival-goers dance in the street. The festival has been an annual event ever since 1948, taking place in August each summer.

Gyro Bandshell


Gyro Bandshell Gyro Bandshell
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society PEN 564a

1951

This bandshell was constructed in 1951 to replace earlier bandshells which stood in this place. The photo shows a concert taking place in the bandshell at night—an occurrence which is still common in the park today.

Construction of High School


Construction of High School Construction of High School
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society PEN 555a

1952

This high school building was under construction from 1949 to 1953, when it was completed. It was built to replace the first Eckhardt Avenue senior school, which had been built in 1935 and burned down in January of 1949 in a spectacular fire. The school in this photograph was demolish in 2008 and is now the location of a very large parking lot.

Aylmer Fruits Cannery


Aylmer Fruits Cannery Aylmer Fruits Cannery
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Okanagan Archive Trust Society PEN 801

1954

This photograph shows the Aylmer Fruits Canning Factory, which operated from the 1930s until the 1980s and was Penticton's main canning factory. The factory canned both fruits and vegetables and provided employment for many locals, but was eventually shut in the 1980s.


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