The South Okanagan


Peachland On The Lake

For thousands of years, this area has been the home to the Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation, who lived sustainably off the land and developed complex trading networks through the region and beyond. The first Europeans who came to the area of Peachland were fur traders travelling on the fur brigade trail, which passed through where the town is now situated. Peachland itself first got its start in 1889 when prospector J.M. Robinson came to the area and visited the Lambly ranch beside Trepanier Creek. There, he tasted the home-grown peaches and fell in love. Robinson purchased and subdivided the land for the townsite and orchard lots and named the new community "Peachland". From then on, the growth of the settlement was slow and steady as more and more farmers and orchardists moved to the area. Today, the economy of the community has shifted slightly from fruit growing and logging to tourism and local services.

This project was made possible through a partnership with Visit South Okanagan, with support from the Peachland Museum and Peachland's Tourism and Economic Development Committee.

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




The Peachland Baptist Church


Peachland Museum

Story Location

Turning off the highway into downtown Peachland, you are greeted with the sight of the community's most unique historic building. This 8-sided two-storey building was built in 1910 and used as the Baptist Church until 1964. The church was built by Baptist volunteers who wanted a distinctive presence in the community, but the exact reason for its unusual shape is unknown.

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In the church's early years, the building lacked plumbing and running water. It was heated by large wood burning heaters on first and second floors, in addition to the wood-burning cookstove in the kitchen. Unfortunately these stoves were unable to heat the space as well as the congregation would have liked, and in the winter they shivered throughout services. Heat control was an ongoing issue in the summer as well as the building roasted in the Okanagan sun. Children attending bible school in the summer recalled suffering through the preacher's long lessons, which often went overtime, while trying to pay attention despite the oppressive heat.
The building's architecture, while distinctive, created an unfortunate issue for funerals. Caskets containing deceased congregants had to be carried up the steep stairs to the second floor by struggling pallbearers. Due to the steep angle required to maneuver the casket up the stairs, the assembled congregation often heard a dull thud as the body slid to the bottom of the casket. One can only imagine the effect this must have had on the mourners.
By the mid 1960s, the building's life as a church came to an end, and the Peachland Municipal Offices moved in temporarily while they waited for the construction of a new municipal hall at 5806 Beach Avenue. While this situation was temporary, it did leave an important legacy. The women working in the offices refused to work in a building lacking adequate indoor plumbing and running water and a toilet was installed for their use.

Photo looking down Beach Avenue to the north, with the Baptist Church in the foreground.
In 1966, the Parks and Recreation Commission took a turn in the building, using it for small gatherings and fitness classes. By this time, a small oil space heater had replaced the old wood burning stoves, but this heater also produced insufficient heat for the building in the winter and the occupants remained uncomfortably chilly.
Six years later, tenancy switched again and for the next eight years, the Peachland Volunteer Fire Brigade used the building as a meeting and training facility. The heating issue was finally resolved with the installation of a wall furnace, much to the relief of the firefighters. In 1979, a fire broke out at the Walter's Limited packinghouse, and the firefighters were able to use the old church across the street to rest and thaw out their frozen gear. In 1980, the firehall gained a second floor which could meet their needs for gatherings and training, and the firefighters moved out. They did not leave without a souvenir of their time at the church however, and the furnace accompanied them to the firehall's new addition. After the firefighters came the community library, followed shortly after by the Peachland Historical Society. Mayor George Waldo opened the Peachland Museum on the top floor with a collection of small donated items collected by the historical society. Eventually the museum took over the bottom floor as well.
Today, the Peachland Museum boasts a large collection of the things one would usually expect in a museum, such as photographs, archives and artefacts. However, that is not the only attraction at the Peachland Museum. A local model train group, the Central Okanagan Railway Company built a large, fascinating model of the Kettle Valley Railway system. Visitors can start the train by pushing a button, and watch as the train weaves around a lovingly rendered model that wraps around the entire second floor.
2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the building's status as an official British Columbia Heritage Site.

The Fur Brigade Trail


Peachland Museum

Story Location

Like much of Canada, European settlement of the Okanagan began with the fur trade. The fur trade had steadily spread out across eastern Canada and into the prairies, while the work of explorers such as David Thompson, Simon Fraser, and Lewis and Clark had put the waterways of the west on the map. With competition between rival fur companies across Canada and the United States at a fever pitch, it was time to head west.

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One of the major figures in the history of the Okanagan fur trade was German-American businessman, investor, and merchant John Jacob Astor. He began amassing what would become a considerable fortune through the fur trade, before diversifying into real estate investments and by smuggling opium into China, eventually becoming the first multi-millionaire businessman in the United States. His role in the fur trade began in the Great Lakes region, forming the American Fur Trade Company, under the umbrella of which he organized the Pacific Fur Co. Traders. His company founded the first American settlement on the Pacific Coast in 1811, which would bear the name "Fort Astoria."
For traders based in the eastern United States and the Great Lakes, reaching the Pacific Coast and the mouth of the Columbia River was no easy feat. There were two options - sailing around South America’s Cape Horn, then going north to the Columbia River (today, the location of Astoria, Oregon) or going across the continent and passing through the dangerous Rocky Mountains. Once the fort was established, they had a simple question: How do we get furs from Fort St. James (which was in modern day northern British Columbia) to Oregon, where they can be shipped to European markets? The Fraser and Columbia Rivers each composed significant legs of the journey, but a long stretch in the middle would have to be traversed by land.
The Fur Brigade Trail, as it would come to be called, began at Fort Alexandria (about 60 km south of present-day Quesnel) and ended at Fort Okanogan in Washington State, where the Okanogan River met the Columbia. In 1812, traders from Fort Astoria founded Fort Kamloops and began trading furs in the region, and in 1814 a group had wintered at the head of Okanagan Lake and had acquired a good collection of furs by the spring. By 1824, the entirety of the Fur Brigade Trail was established along the western side of the lakes in the Okanagan Valley. Much of the trail followed ancient routes used by the First Nations, referred to by the Syilx (Okanagan) People n̓ q̓ aq̓lx̌aqas, which means "the trail Indigenous people walk."
A "brigade" was composed of hunters, cooks, packers, rangers, and fur traders leading as many as 300 horses, each carrying up to 80 kg of pelts. The brigade also had to carry all of the goods they needed for sustenance and trade. During the course of a journey, a few hunters went ahead of the bulk of the brigade to obtain fresh meat, and prepare the next camp.
The trail passed through Peachland, where it wound down from Shingle Creek to Garnet Valley passing through the bulk of modern-day Peachland. It likely ran a little above the thick lakeshore brush, around the level of Renfrew Road. A common stop was at May Springs, which was just below the intersection of Princeton and Somerset Avenue. It crossed Deep Creek at Antler’s Beach and Trepanier Creek near Lambly Park.
The Chronicles of Peachland writes about how this return to the lakeside must have been a relief for the traders, "One can easily imagine how welcome a swim in the lake would have been after the hot dusty trail from Shingle Creek, Garnet Valley, and down over the mountain to Deep Creek."1 Anyone who has experienced the searing Okanagan heat would likely agree.
In 1846, the Oregon Treaty was signed, establishing the border between the United States and British North America. This treaty situated the southern portion of the Trail in U.S. territory. Due to this, the existing route was abandoned in favour of an all-Canadian route, which went from Fort Kamloops to a Canadian distribution centre at Fort Langley. The trail had a brief resurgence after the onset of the 1858 Cariboo Gold Rush when American prospectors streamed up to the Caribou through any route possible, but this Gold Rush soon petered out and the trail once again slowed.
When Peachland’s founder, J.M. Robinson got his first lot in the area in 1902, the old trail would still have existed, the precise route it took through the community has unfortunately now been lost.

1. The Peachland Historical Society, The Chronicles of Peachland: History of the Years from the Beginning until 1983 (Kelowna: Kettle Valley Graphics, 2017), 4.

The "Little Schoolhouse"


Peachland Museum P0148

Story Location

One of the most important things for a young community to consider is the education of its children. For Peachland, this need was met while the community was still in its infancy in 1898, when the population numbered less than 100 people. Prior to the construction of this one-room schoolhouse two homes had been used as temporary classrooms. Today, this little building is the oldest building in Peachland that still stands. The one room schoolhouse served the community well for a decade, then it became clear that the burgeoning community would need a bigger building, so the Peachland School was built at the corner of Beach Avenue and 6th, where the Peachland School stands today.

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In The Chronicles of Peachland, early resident Olive B. Clarke remembers how central the little school was to the community, "In the earliest days, the little one-roomed school (white, not red) was really the centre of our lives. It sat in the middle of a gravel bed and everywhere one looked there was gravel, gravel, gravel. We held church services and Sunday School in that little building, saw our first Christmas tree, and took part in the Christmas concerts where I gave my first 'recitation.' After the concert, Santa arrived and gave each of us a net bag filled with candy, mixed nuts and an orange, and we were completely happy!"1
Clarke also writes about a sweet memory surrounding the school's first teacher, C. G Elliot. "In 1906-07 after the Orange Hall was built, Miss Emily Kennedy taught some junior classes there. Mr. Elliot often asked one of us to take a note to her. Little did we realize we were cupid's little helpers, because the next year they were married and lived there many years before moving to Edmonton where both taught for some years."2
When the new four-room school was built in 1908, the Anglican Parish purchased the Little Schoolhouse and St. Margaret's Anglican Church held its first service the day after Boxing Day. It was consecrated three years later and served the congregation until 1995, when it was transferred to the District of Peachland in return for a portion of Brandon Lane.
After a century in the community, volunteers began work to restore the old building. In 2001, the Peachland Little Schoolhouse Society was formed and one of the first priorities was to raise the building and install a proper foundation. The building also had its electrical rewiring redone, and the front door was relocated to its original location in the centre of the building. The gravel described by Clarke was a thing of the past, but they continued to beautify the lot with new landscaping around the building, creating the lovely garden space that now surrounds the school. Today, the building is used as a venue for small gatherings and displays.
The Peachland School at Beach Avenue now functions as the community's visitor centre and art gallery. The community is especially proud of its maternal bat colony that resides in the attic of the building. Every year, mother bats spend the spring and summer in the building where they raise their pups. The people of Peachland are exceptionally grateful for these bats and their role in managing mosquitoes. If you are lucky enough to pass by the building near dusk, you may catch these unique mammals taking flight for their nightly mosquito hunts.

1. The Peachland Historical Society, The Chronicles of Peachland, 28.
2. Ibid, 29.

Then and Now Photos

The Morrin, Thompson & Co Store

The Morrin, Thompson & Co Store The Morrin, Thompson & Co Store

Peachland Museum


This building was originally built as the Morrin, Thompson and Company Store. It later became the Fulks' General Store, Bob's Market, and Sunnyside Market, the latter of which it remains today. In this photograph from 1908, the hitching posts for customers' horses are clearly visible.

The Trepanier Dam

The Trepanier Dam The Trepanier Dam

Peachland Museum, P0052


A small dam, pictured here, was built on Trepanier Creek in 1909 to provide power to the community of Peachland. The dam was in operation until 1947, and was accompanied by wooden flumes that carried water to Peachland's farms and residents. Today, the dam sits at the end of a hiking trail which travels along the top of the canyon.

Peachland's Cenotaph

Peachland's Cenotaph Peachland's Cenotaph

Peachland Museum


This cenotaph currently stands in Cenotaph Park, but was originally erected in the centre of 2nd Street. It honours those who fell in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. The building in the background of this photograph was the Orange Hall, which later became the Legion.

On the CNR Wharf

On the CNR Wharf On the CNR Wharf

Peachland Museum


The woman posing in this photo from 1945 is Madeleine Ekins. She is perched on the Canadian National Railway wharf in Peachland.

Beach Avenue and the Municipal Hall

Beach Avenue and the Municipal Hall Beach Avenue and the Municipal Hall

Peachland Museum


This photo shows an early Beach Avenue. The municipal hall is the first building to the right and the Clements Grocery store and garage are beside it farther down the street. Note the early cars on the road, which has not yet been paved.

Princeton Avenue

Princeton Avenue Princeton Avenue

Peachland Museum, 21178


This photograph was taken in 1950, looking north down Princeton Avenue towards the lake. The rather steep road is still unpaved.