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Kelowna (May 16, 2006 census population 106,707, metropolitan population of 165,596) is a city on Okanagan Lakemarker in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker. Its name derives from a native term for "grizzly bear". Kelowna ranks as the 22nd largest metropolitan area in Canada.

Nearby communities include West Kelownamarker to the west across Okanagan Lakemarker, Lake Countrymarker and then Vernonmarker to the north, as well as Peachlandmarker to the southwest and, further to the south, Summerlandmarker and Pentictonmarker.


Image:Kelowna 1909.jpg|Kelowna, 1909Image:Kelowna 1920.jpg|Kelowna, 1920Father Charles M. Pandosy, a French Roman Catholic Oblate missionary, arriving in 1859 was the first European to settle at Kelowna, a place named "L'anse au sable" (Bay of Sand) in reference to the sandy shoreline.

Kelowna was officially incorporated in 1905.


The service industry employs the most people in Kelowna, the largest city in the tourist-oriented Okanagan Valley. In summer, boating, golf, hiking and biking are popular, and in winter, both Alpine skiing and Nordic skiing are favourite activities at the nearby Big Whitemarker and Silver Starmarker ski resorts.

Kelowna produces wines that have a worldwide reputation. Vineyards are common around and south of the city where the climate is ideal for the many wineries. Notable ones include the Mission Hill Estate Winery, specifically for its unique architectural design. However, at least two major wineries were damaged or destroyed in 2003 due to the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire. Kelowna is also the home of Sun-Rype, a popular manufacturer of fruit juice and snacks.

Okanagan Collegemarker and University of British Columbia Okanaganmarker are the predominant centres for post-secondary education. With over 5000 full-time students Okanagan Collegemarker constitutes the largest college in British Columbia outside the Lower Mainlandmarker and Victoriamarker. In addition to vocational training and adult basic education, the college offers a highly-regarded university transfer program. University of British Columbia Okanagan has a student population exceeding 6000 full-time students, enrolled in diverse undergraduate and graduate programs.

Kelowna is the seat of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, the third-largest metropolitan area in British Columbia (after Vancouvermarker and Victoriamarker), and the largest in the British Columbia Interior. With scenic lake vistas and a dry, mild climate, Kelowna has become one of the fastest growing cities in North America. The appropriate management of such rapid development (and its attendant consequences) is a source of significant debate within the community. Kelowna is the least affordable housing market in Canada and 13th in the world. It is classified as "Severely Unaffordable".Because of the Okanagan's climate and vineyard-filled scenery, it has been compared to California.

Prominent citizens

Kelowna was home to the late Premier of British Columbia, W.A.C. Bennett and is the birthplace of his son, William R. Bennett, who also served as Premier of the province.

Former Major League Baseball players, Jeff Zimmerman of the Texas Rangers, his brother Jordan Zimmerman, and Paul Spoljaric were born here. The city was home to The Grapes of Wrath, one of Canada's most popular rock bands in the 1980s and early 1990s. The 2007 World Women's Curling Championship winning Kelly Scott rink is based in the city. Evangeline Lilly of the hit TV show Lost was discovered on the streets of Kelowna. Actor and model, Taylor Kitsch, was raised in the town and now appears in the hit tv show Friday Night Lights. Many National Hockey League players also reside in Kelowna, including Dany Heatley, Ryan Getzlaf, Wade Redden, Trevor Linden, Jarome Iginla, Josh Gorges, Blake Comeau, Shea Weber, Scott Hannan, and Brett McLean. Canadian hip-hop musician and Juno award winner Mad Child also resides in Kelowna.


Kelowna at night.

According to the Statistics Canada 2001 census, the population estimates there were 96,288 people residing in Kelowna and 147,739 people residing in the Greater Kelowna Area. 48.4% of residents were male and 51.6% were female. Children under five accounted for approximately 4.8% of the resident population of Kelowna. This compares with 5.2% in British Columbia, and 5.6% for Canadamarker overall.

In mid-2001, 18.4% of the resident population in Kelowna were of retirement age (65 and over for males and females) compared with 13.2% in Canada, therefore, the average age is 41.1 years of age comparing to 37.6 years of age for all of Canada.

In the five years between 1996 and 2001, the population of Kelowna grew by 8.2%, compared with an increase of 4.9% for British Columbia as a whole. Population density of Kelowna averaged 50.9 people per square kilometre, compared with an average of 4.2, for British Columbia altogether.

Population Growth
1905 600
1959 10,000
1971 19,089
1978 51,955
1981 59,196
1986 61,213
1991 75,950
1993 85,564
1996 89,442
2001 96,288
2006 106,707

Religious groups
Total 94,760 100%
Catholic 18,195 19.2%
Protestant 38,215 40.3%
Christian Orthodox 795 0.8%
Christian, n.i.e. 5,735 6.1%
Muslim 250 0.2%
Jewish 215 0.2%
Buddhist 505 0.5%
Hindu 140 0.1%
Sikh 855 0.9%
Eastern religions 110 0.1%
Latter-day Saint 305 0.3%
No religious affiliation 29,435 31.1%
Source: Statistics Canada 2001 Census

Ethnic origin
English 20,665 48.1%
Scottish 16,275 37.9%
German 13,170 30.7%
Canadian 12,410 28.9%
Irish 12,265 28.5%
French 7,455 17.4%
Ukrainian 4,485 10.4%
Dutch 2,915 6.8%
Polish 2,815 6.6%
Norwegian 2,765 6.4%
Swedish 2,380 5.5%
Russian 2,045 4.8%
Italian 1,865 4.3%
Aboriginal people 1,695 3.9%
Welsh 1,390 3.2%


Roads and highways

For years, only one major highway passed through the city of Kelowna: Highway 97. The road itself is good, but its connections to all points east and west in the province were only managed by using the slow, curving Trans Canada Highway and the Crowsnest Highway.

As the Okanagan Valley is a popular getaway for residents in Vancouvermarker, a new freeway was built into the BC interior in 1986, eliminating over two hours of travel time between the two major destinations. This freeway, starting in Hopemarker, is known as the Coquihalla Highway (Hwy 5), and terminates in Kamloopsmarker. This new freeway system allows one to drive the 425 kilometres from Vancouver to Kelowna in just over four hours.

A spur route, The Okanagan Connector, or Hwy 97C, was later added in 1989; it connects in Merritt, and heads eastward to Peachland, about twenty minutes south of Kelowna.

Kelowna is connected to West Kelownamarker by the new five lane William R.marker Bennett Bridgemarker which officially opened May 25, 2008. This new bridge now links Highway 97 to the southern Okanagan and the Coquihalla connector. The old floating bridge is currently being dismantled as it has outlived its usefulness and is incapable of supporting the current traffic levels. The new William R. Bennett bridge has helped to alleviate some traffic congestion but ongoing roadwork on interchanges, the restructuring of traffic lights and other improvements are underway on HWY 97 on both the Kelowna East and Westside West of the bridge. This stretch of Highway 97 continues to be one of the province's busiest traffic arteries and improvements will be necessary to keep up with the ever increasing population and the ever expanding tourist traffic to this area.

Highway 33, which connects with Highway 97 in Rutland, provides an alternate way to enter and exit the city, towards the southeast.

Air travel

Kelowna International Airportmarker, north of the downtown core, has regular flights to and from Calgarymarker, Edmontonmarker, Torontomarker, Vancouvermarker, Victoriamarker, Las Vegas, Honolulumarker and Seattlemarker, as well as seasonal service to Mexico and Europe. Travelers arriving at the Kelowna Airport can use the official Kelowna Shuttle, which provides services throughout the Okanagan Valley and British Columbiamarker.


Kelowna seen from the west side.

Relative to most Canadian cities, Kelowna enjoys a dry climate and mild temperatures (Mean Annual Temperature of , January Mean Temperature of ; Mean July Temperature of , Average Maximum of . These are recorded at the Kelowna Airportmarker, at a higher altitude than the city core with higher precipitation and cooler temperatures. Okanagan Lakemarker as well as the blocking barriers of the Canadian Rockies and the Columbia Mountains tend to moderate the winter climate, but Arctic air does occasionally penetrate the valley during winter, usually for very short periods (coldest recorded temperature of , 30 December 1968).

Summers are hot and sunny, with daytime temperatures often exceeding (hottest recorded temperature = , 24 July 1994). Clear, dry summer air allows nighttime temperatures to fall rapidly. The city averages about of precipitation per year, with about 1/3 of the precipitation falling as snow, the bulk in December and January. The inherent dryness of Kelowna's climate can be a factor in the forest fire risk as, for example, during the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire of 2003, when evacuation of large residential populations was ordered.

Although Kelowna averages 300.5 hours of bright sunshine in July (61% of daylight hours), the winter months are mostly overcast; thus, Kelowna averages only 40.3 hours of bright sunshine in January (for comparison, consider 120 hours at Winnipegmarker, Manitobamarker and Miramichimarker, New Brunswickmarker; 44 hours at Prince Rupert, British Columbiamarker; 45 hours at Yellowknife, Northwest Territoriesmarker).

(All data are derived from Environment Canada statistics for the Kelowna airport)

Kelowna has the greatest percentage of "calm" wind observations in Canada (39%).. The city averages 363 days/yr recording winds less than 5km/hr.

Kelowna at night
Kelowna from Knox mountain 360 Degree
UBC Okanagan, Kelowna 360 Degree
UBC Okanagan, Kelowna 360 Degree

Venues and attractions

  • Prospera Placemarker, a 6,800-seat arena
  • Apple Bowlmarker, a 5,700 seat outdoor stadium
  • SOPA Gallery of Fine Arts
  • Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art
  • Rotary Centre for the Arts, a 326-seat theatre
  • Kelowna Art Gallery
  • Kelowna Community Theatre, a 853-seat theatre
  • Kelowna Museum
  • Kelowna Marina on Okanagan Lake
  • Kelowna Hydrofest on Okanagan Lakemarker
  • Capital News Centre
  • H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre, largest publicly-owned water park in Canada
  • Kelowna Farmers Market - April to October Outdoors
  • Kasugai Gardens, an outdoor Garden beside City Hall built to celebrate friendship with its sister city; Kasugai, Japan.
  • Summerhill Pyramid Winery
  • Kettle Valley Railway (Myra Canyon Trestles)
  • Knox Mountain Hillclimb - One of the worlds longest uphill point to point car races still running. The event runs May long weekend of each year.


Kelowna Marina


Local services


Public schools

Public schools in the Kelowna area are part of School District 23 Central Okanagan or School District 93 Conseil scolaire francophone:
  • Secondary (Grades 10-12 or 8-12):
  • Middle (Grades 7-9):
    • KLO Middle (offers French immersion)
    • Dr. Knox Middle
    • Constable Neil Bruce Middle
    • Rutland Middle
    • Springvalley Middle
    • Glenrosa Middle
  • Elementary Schools (Grades K-6 or K-7):
    • About 20 elementary schools spread throughout the city. (See the school directory list for district 23 and district 93.)

Private schools


Events of significance

  • On August 6, 1969, a sonic boom from a nearby air show produced an expensive broken glass bill while at least 6 people were injured.
  • Winter 1983 was the last time that the Lake completely froze over. (A Royal Canadian Mounted Policemarker helicopter successfully rescued an SUV that had tried to drive across the Lake and cracked through the ice).
  • In both 1986 and 1988, alcohol-fuelled riots erupted during summer Regatta festivities.
  • On May 7, 1992, a forest fire consumed 60 hectares of forest on Mount Boucheriemarker in West Kelowna; no homes were damaged.
  • In August 2003, a nearby wildfire destroyed over 200 homes and forced the temporary evacuation of approximately 30,000 residents.
  • During the 2003 fire, many trestles of the historic Kettle Valley Railway were destroyed. All the trestles have been rebuilt to look like the originals but using smaller dimension beams.
  • In May 2005, Kelowna celebrated its Centennial.
  • In 2005, a new bridgemarker to replace the Okanagan Lake Bridgemarker began construction, being part of a plan to try and alleviate the severe traffic problems experienced during the summer months when people from Kelowna drive to Westbankmarker and vice versa. (the height of tourist season).
  • In July 2007, general rowdiness during the annual "Wakefest" wakeboarding competition and music festival led to the decision by Kelowna City Council to ban the event for the following year. Expected to return for the summer 2009 tour after organizers/promoters agreed to changes in the festival (including renaming it, introducing restricted beer garden hours and moving the date to later in the summer), conflicting dates with the national tour forced the festival to be withheld for another year.
  • In July 2009, wildfiresmarker destroyed some hundreds of hectares of land in West Kelowna, including a number of buildings, and 17,000 residents were asked to evacuate.
  • In August 2009, Kelowna hosted the 40th General Council of the United Church of Canada

Sister cities

Kelowna has "sister city" agreements with the following cities:


  • In the science fiction television series Stargate SG-1, Jonas Quinn hails from the nation of Kelowna on the planet Langara. Stargate SG-1 and its sister show Stargate Atlantis are produced in Vancouver.
  • Some believe a lake monster named Ogopogomarker lives in Lake Okanagan. In the past, naysayers have pointed out the similarities between the so-called monster and a beaver, a log, and other less monstrous lake denizens.
  • The Online Virtual World Club Penguin has its headquarters located in Kelowna.
  • In the song "Driving One of Your Cars" by Swedish musician Lisa Miskovsky, she mentions Kelowna in the lyrics "Kelowna is beautiful in summertime they say".
  • Fido, a comedy/horror/thriller movie about zombies, was filmed in Kelowna and debuted on September 7, 2006 at the Toronto Film Festivalmarker.
  • Part of the movie Mee Shee: The Water Giant was filmed in Kelowna.
  • The movies Shred, and Shred 2 were partially filmed at Big Whitemarker, a ski hill in Kelowna.

See also


  1. Victoria housing among world's most costly
  2. 4th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey
  3. Kelowna Community Profile - Statistics Canada. 2002. 2001 Community Profiles. Released June 27, 2002. Last modified: 2005-11-30. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 93F0053XIE.
  4. Phillips, D. 1990. The Climate of Canada. Catalogue No. En56-1/1990E. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services of Canada
  5. Atlas of Canada
  6. Canada - A peoples' history,
  7. US Green Building Council, Kelowna, British Columbia Competition Program Detailed Summary,
  8. Weather -
  9. Weather Winners
  10. SOPA Gallery of Fine Arts
  11. Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art
  12. Rotary Centre for the Arts
  13. Kelowna Art Gallery
  14. Kelowna Community Theatre
  15. Kelowna Museum
  16. JGarden - Gardens
  17. Public Schools in Kelowna: Kelowna Senior Secondary, Rutland Senior Secondary, Mount Boucherie Secondary Okanagan Mission Secondary, KLO Middle, Dr. Knox Middle, Constable Neil Bruce Middle, Rutland Middle, Springvalley Middle
  18. Private Schools in Kelowna: Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School, Kelowna Christian School, Heritage Christian School, Vedanta Academy, Okanagan Adventist Academy, Immaculata Regional High School, St. Joseph Elementary, Kelowna Waldorf School, Okanagan Montessori School, Okanagan Montessori
  19. Post-secondary Schools in Kelowna: UBC Okanagan, Okanagan College, Sprott-Shaw Community College
  20. Archival news footage after the sonic boom
  21. Okanagan Mountain Park Fire 2003
  23. Canadian wildfires force thousands to flee homes

External links

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