The Okanagan area has several historical sites (plus over 35 different museums). These sites are listed in a rough north-to south order:
just south of Highway 1
This was the point where the “last spike” joining the western part of the CPR, built from the Pacific joins the segment built from the east. Donald Smith, a director of the CPR drive the last spike on November 7, 1885.
St Joseph’s Church
West on Chilcotin Rd, off Mt St Paul Way
This church was built by Roman Catholic missionaries and the Kamloops Indian Band in the late 1800s and has been meticulously renovated, including its gilded altar and its period artifacts. The church and adjoining cemetery are open to visitors July 1 to Labour Day.
Great Train Robbery site
30 kilometres east of Kamloops, at Monte Creek
Bill Miner, the notorious train and stagecoach robber held up a CPR train in 1906 (though only stole $15), and was tracked 80 kilometres before his capture. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in BC but escaped to the US in 1907. This is the subject of the feature film “The Grey Fox.”
O’Keefe Historical Ranch
about 13 kilometres on highway 97, west of the 97A junction after Swan lake
This ranch, on the northern tip of Okanagan Lake was one of the first ranches in the area, founded in 1867 by Cornelius O’Keefe. The 8,094 hectare ranch became a major cattle operation, and the historic ranch site includes a Roman Catholic church, a general store a post office, the O’Keefe Mansion, and the Cowboy Ranching Gallery, which is a museum with old cowboy gear including guns and saddles.
6 km west of Vernon
This community was the northern terminus of barges and steamers on the Okanagan Lake until 1936, when the arrival of highways changed everything. In 1886 Captain T.D. Shorts launched the area’s first steamer the SS Sicamous. Visit Paddlewheel Park, which commemorates the history of paddlewheelers to the area, with the SS Naramata on display.
Father Pandosy Mission
Benvoulin & Casuro roads
This mission was founded in 1859 by Father Pandosy who served both Okanagan natives and white settlers. The mission has been fully restored including the chapel, the mission and the schoolhouse, all in their original log buildings.
Guisachan Heritage Park
1060 Cameron Ave
This park was one of Kelowna’s first ranches and was later the home of Lord Aberdeen , the Governor-General of Canada from 1893 -1989. There are extensive perennial gardens with labelled plants. Also a restaurant.
Trout Creek Canyon Trestle
Above the Agricultural Research Station, 5 km south on highway 97
This 500 metre long, 72 metre high steel trestle was one of the largest steel girder bridges on this continent, as part of the now-defunct Kettle Creek Railway. Great views from the trestle, now part of the Kettle Valley Trail.
Lakeshore exit off highway 97
This 72 metre sternwheeler paddled on Okanagan Lake connecting Vernon and Penticton in the years from 1914 to 1935. It has been beached since 1951. The boat is being restored and summer tours are offered. The SS Naramata, a historic CPR tug is still afloat and is also being restored. Beside the SS Sicamous is a beautiful rose garden with hundreds of varieties.
Fairview Town Site
4.5 km Southwest of Oliver on Fairview Rd
The town was named Fairview for its great view of the Okanagan River below the town. At its peak, 500 people lived here extracting high-grade gold ore
11.5 km from Osoyoos, on Mount Baldy Rd, off #3 east
This turn of the century ghost town was the home of those working the Cariboo mine from 1887 to 1903. It is said that there is still buried treasure in the area, including two gold bars stolen at gunpoint from mine officials. Do not venture beyond fenced areas.
Touch of Holland Windmill
1.4 km east on Highway 3
A replica of an 1816 Dutch windmill, complete with lower level living quarters. Stones grind flour on the upper level, with baked goods made on site with the mill’s own flour. Open may to September, Monday to Saturday 8 am to 5:30 pm, and Sundays 8 am to 2 pm; Open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 5:30 pm the rest of the year.
The Grist Mill and Tea Room
2691 Upper Bench Road, 2.5 km from town
RR#1 S-89 C-10 Keremeos, BC, V0X 1N0
An 1877 Grist Mill in an orchard, now the only water-operated grist mill in BC. Open May to mid-October, summer hours: Seven days a week from 9am – 5pm.
Ashnola Rd, just off Highway 3
This 3-span covered bridge over the Similkameen River was built in 1907 by the Great Northern Railway. The deep pools below the bridge are popular with swimmers.