Before the arrival of white settlers, the area was the home of First Nations people in the Stekatkolxne'ut village, which overlooked Okanagan Lake. Fur traders in the early 1800s used the area as a stopping place, calling it MacDonald's Plain, after a Hudson's Bay Company officer. The settlement was renamed Westbank in 1908, due to its location on the west bank of Okanagan Lake.
Westbank is located on Highway 97 near the western shore of Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, 16 kilometres (10 miles) northeast of Peachland and 14 kilometres (9 miles) southwest of Kelowna.
Brush up on the pioneer history of the region at the Westbank Museum, located on highway 97 South in Westbank.
In the 1960s, the Okanagan Historical Society took on the task of preserving the historic Pandosy Mission site on Benvoulin Road in Kelowna. It was here that Father Pandosy, an Oblate priest, established the first white settlement in the Okanagan Valley in 1859.
Many of the buildings had fallen into disrepair. Work parties from the historical society and the Knights of Columbus have laboured over the years to restore four of the original buildings: the Chapel, the Root-House, the Barn, and the Brothers House. Four other historic buildings have been moved to the site.
Today, it is jointly administered by the Okanagan Historical Society and the Catholic Church. The property remains in the hands of the Catholic Church. There is a caretaker on site and the grounds are open to the public from dawn to dusk from Easter to Thanksgiving. Admission is by donation.
Enjoy unique regional collections and exhibitions. The museum explores the natural and human history of the Okanagan region, and regularly features visiting displays from around the world. Offering events and educational programs to the public, this facility provides an interesting approach to the preservation of past and present, alive with the area's history!
The early settlers in the Okanagan region nurtured the first seeds of agricultural opportunity. Orchards gradually replaced rangeland with a bountiful selection of fruit, introducing a new industry into the Valley. This museum offers reflective and interactive interpretations of the local orchard industry - past, present and alive with our history!
The Okanagan Military Museum is a non-profit, charitable, volunteer organization committed to collecting, displaying, and interpreting memorabilia related to the military service of Okanagan residents for present and future generations. The collections include small arms, photos and text, primary materials, and an extensive reference library.
Artifacts and exhibits chronicle the beginnings of wine making globally and explore the history of the local wine industry. The VQA Wine Shop showcases all of BC's Vintners Quality Alliance wineries.
Truly a natural wonderland, Bear Creek Provincial Park is situated in the Central Okanagan Basin on the west side of Okanagan Lake. The park features lakeside camping, over 400 metres of sandy beaches, and 5 kilometres of spectacular, well-marked hiking trails. A picturesque canyon has been carved into the bedrock by Bear Creek tumbling onto a cottonwood-lined delta. This park is extremely busy during the summer season and reservations are recommended. For your convenience, during the summer season the park has a concession located at the Gatehouse and managed by the Park Facility Operator.
Fintry Provincial Park includes 360 hectares of the former Fintry Estate, a heritage site with a colourful history. From the delta area to a forested area made up of ridges and deep slopes, this park offers two dramatically different topographical areas. There is over 2 kilometres of waterfront with surrounding mountains and deep canyons. Shorts Creek passes through a deep canyon creating a series of waterfalls and deep pools. With almost two kilometres of waterfront property, the park has opportunities for camping, swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Recreational users can enjoy the natural sand beach while wildlife viewers can hike the Canyon trail and view a variety of birds, small mammals, deer and bighorn sheep in the higher regions. Historical features throughout the park include the Manor House, the octagonal barn and several other farm buildings. A small wetland area located south of the Packing House, a portion of lakeshore and the Shorts Creek corridor and canyon below Westside Road are designated Special Feature-Natural Conservation Areas. Notable features within the zone include a large eagle's nest, old growth cottonwoods and several wildlife trees, Shorts Creek waterfall, and kokanee spawning grounds. The Fintry Manor House, garden, the barns, remnant power generation and irrigation systems are special heritage features.
The Fintry Protected Area was established on April 18, 2001, to enhance the ecological viability of the existing park. This protected area protects important California bighorn sheep habitat and provides increased representation of the North Okanagan Basin ecosection by capturing an increased elevational gradient as well as providing a spectacular canyon and hiking and viewing opportunities.
From the 110-kilometre long Lake Okanagan to over 200 other freshwater lakes throughout the area, Westbank is the perfect place for people who love their boats. From jet skis to houseboats, canoes to kayaks, there's every kind of boat to enjoy. Spend an exciting afternoon parasailing or wind surfing. Gather the family or a few friends and rent a houseboat for the weekend. Or simply head off on a good old-fashioned paddle boat and stop by a lakeside for a quiet picnic.
Why just hike and bike through the mountains when you can ski, board and feel absolutely exhilarated?
The nearby Monashee Mountains boast consistent amounts of light, and dry powder snow that challenges every level of downhill enthusiast. Big White Ski Resort is the closest to Kelowna and is considered by residents to be the local mountain. Winter is a great season in the Okanagan, and cross-country skiing enthusiasts will enjoy the serenity of ther wilderness. In addition to the trails available at the major ski resorts, Kelowna has several active cross-country ski clubs that maintain approximately 85 kms (50 mi) of groomed trails in the area that are easily accessible.
Nothing brings you closer to nature than riding on the back of a steed. Add to that rolling hills, open meadows, refreshing waters, and majestic mountains, and the experience becomes nothing short of exhilarating. Horseback riding in Kelowna is a journey you'll never forget. In fact, you'll want to relive it over and over again!
With its lush parks, glorious trails, forests and streaming waters, there's no better place to birdwatch than Kelowna. This area of the Okanagan Valley offers some of the best shorebirding, gull-watching, and urban birding experiences in BC. Kelowna plays host to hundreds of birds in dozens of varieties. Better still, their locations are all within easy access - either by bus or by taxi within city limits, or just a short drive from the city.
Kelowna is a favourite spot for fishing. And no wonder! There are over 200 freshwater lakes in the area, each with an assortment of fish, including: Rainbow Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Whitefish, Burbot, and Carp.
Four wine festivals are held in the Okanagan Valley throughout the year. More information, including an event schedule, is available at lcoal Visitor Info Centres.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia