All communities have a unique story of how they came to be and Kelowna is no different. Legend has it, that a group of Okanagan First Nations saw smoke coming from a dwelling and stopped to see who lived there. Upon hearing the noise of the passers by, a fur-clad, whiskered settler emerged from his underground home. When the hunters saw him they shouted “Kim-ach-Touch” or “Brown Bear”. When it came time to name the settlement in 1892, a number of settlers recalled this story and after much discussion, the town planners decided on Kelowna. Which is the Indigenous word for “grizzly bear” in the language of Interior Salish people.
If that story leaves you wanting to know more about the history of Kelowna then we highly recommend visiting Kelowna Museums. They are a society comprised of 5 museums in 3 buildings.
The Okanagan Heritage Museum offers award-winning travelling exhibits and provides a home for exhibitions of local and regional artifacts and stories curated by the Kelowna Museums Society. They house the Kelowna Public Archives and the Ursula Surtees Regional Conservation Laboratory.
The Okanagan Military Museum is home to the Okanagan Military Heritage Research Center and the Vince Bezeau Military Archives and Library.
Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame Museum is located at the Okanagan Heritage Museum and it celebrates the athletes, coaches, and builders whose accomplishments have made them a part of history in the Central Okanagan.