The Okanagan Story book launch

The Kelowna Story Book Launch

The Kelowna Story is a comprehensive, full-length history of the largest metropolitan centre outside BC’s Lower Mainland, a labour of love by a leading local historian whose family roots have been entwined with Kelowna’s for five generations. It embraces the full sweep of central Okanagan history, starting with the days of the S-Ookanhkchinx, who enjoyed a largely peaceful existence along the shores of the lakes and rivers before the earliest explorers came to trade, followed by Father Pandosy and his Okanagan Mission in 1859. It was the mission that attracted Kelowna’s first homesteaders, soon followed by cattle ranchers and orchardists, and much later by the empire-builders like the Bennett family who paved the way for today’s budding metropolis.

Author Sharron J. Simpson believes “history is best told through the stories of ordinary people,” while allowing today’s readers may not think it ‘ordinary’ to walk over mountain ranges to collect mail, or consider it ‘ordinary’ to climb into a narrow irrigation pipe to scrape the rust off the inside as it runs up and down the hillsides, or to row freight from one end of Okanagan Lake to the other. “In their time,” she writes, “those who did extraordinary things were simply doing what needed to be done to get ahead. Their stories are fascinating and tell of the remarkable investment early settlers made in this community.”

Simpson tells the story of her hometown with an attention to detail and a passion for narrative that bespeaks her own considerable talent and deep commitment. This excellent history has been a long time coming but, all will agree, well worth waiting for.

Historian and former city councillor Sharron J. Simpson is a passionate advocate for preserving community and family stories. Simpson has published numerous articles and local histories, including Kelowna General Hospital: The First 100 Years, 1908-2008 and Boards, Boxes and Bins: Stanley M. Simpson and the Okanagan Lumber Industry.

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