Then and now view of Okanagan Cente

Taking a Second Look

Today we are introducing a new bi-weekly feature, one that will take a second look at vistas throughout the Okanagan Valley, showing the changes to the local landscape over time. To kick it off, we asked columnist Terry Robertson to explain the origins of the project he calls A Second Look.

This column had its origins some 25 years ago when I was looking for unusual, eye-catching and interesting copy for the bi-weekly “Lake Country Magazine,” which I was publishing back then.

I decided to run a copy of an archival photo of a well-known vista in the community with a few lines of historical information underneath it. Interesting perhaps, but not an exciting or an original idea.

Then the thought struck me that it would intriguing to see if I could take a photo showing the same vista today, more or less from the same viewpoint. Printing both images along with some additional comparative text about the pair of photos would be very unusual if not unique.

One of the first paired images I created was of the old packing house buildings in Okanagan Centre, originally captured in 1948. (See photo above.)

At the time, I was working out of the home I built in 1989 in that same part of Okanagan Centre. So, armed with a camera, a lightweight tripod and a copy of the historical image, I simply stepped outside my front door and positioned the camera in a number of locations nearby.

I observed how the lines, and the angles between objects in the camera viewer changed at different locations and compared them with the same lines and angles between identical objects on the paper image I held in my hand. Once the lines and angles in my digital camera and those in old photo matched, I pressed the camera’s shutter.

At that point, it was eerie to realize that in the space-time continuum, I was as close as possible to the location where, decades earlier, someone stood behind a bulky analogue camera mounted on a heavy tripod to capture the same special vista.

For a brief moment, I was no longer a writer assembling a couple of photos for publication. I was the pilot of a time-machine that was launched at a moment when the old packinghouse was still a going concern, from the spot where I was then standing, just a stone’s throw from where my home would one day be built.

So, this is your pilot speaking. Welcome aboard. I hope you enjoy your upcoming time journeys via the temporal vehicle called, A Second Look.


Okanagan Centre in 1948 and 2023 (from 3rd St. & OK Centre Rd. W)

In 1948, the Okanagan Valley Land Company’s cold storage building (dark block at far left of the 1948 photo above) and its packing house (buildings on the right) dominated the scene as one entered Okanagan Centre from the north. Also notice the overhead, passageway structure connecting the two work areas.

One can also observe the small house near the centre of the1948 photo has been renovated and expanded with among other things the addition of small garage and carport, visible in the 2023 photo (below). Only the cold storage building remains in place just off camera to the left. For many years, it has been used for apple storage, by a local orchardist. One can also see that a cluster of houses now occupy the area where the packinghouse and steamboat wharf once stood.

Unfortunately my original digital photo taken in 1998, which was a close approximation of the field of view shown in the historical photo, disappeared into digital "space-time." To further complicate matters, construction of a three-storey home precludes the capture of an image with the same perspective as the 1948 view. However, thanks to the co-operation of the owners of that home, I was able to take some photos from their third floor patio deck and put together this composite photo.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More A Second Look articles

About the Author

Terry W. Robertson received a bachelor of science degree in geology from UBC in 1970. His studies included physical geography, surveying and air-photo interpretation. Subsequently, he worked in petroleum exploration, initially based in Calgary and from 1978 to 1988 as an independent geological consultant working from his home the Okanagan.

In 1988, he left the oil industry and participated in the start-up and development of several small businesses in Lake Country, including a travel agency and a community newspaper which he edited and published from 1996 to 2003. With two children in local schools at the time and with a passion for politics, Terry was elected as the Lake Country trustee on the Central Okanagan School Board from 1990 to 2002.

He remains interested in politics and was an active supporter of the “Yes” side in the 2018 B.C. referendum on Proportional Representation. He enjoys getting outdoors, as well as travelling and exploring historic sites and museums. In addition, he likes to write about politics, history and geography.

Terry is interested in obtaining old (pre 1970)  photos of landscapes, street scenes or images of prominent structures from the Okanagan or Thompson region. If you possess any such images that you would permit him to copy and use in a future column, or have any comments about his column, please email him at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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