A Second Look over Kelowna's downtown lakefront and beyond

Kelowna in 1909 and now

Kelowna: Panorama from Siwash Point on the westside of Okanagan Lake in 1909 and 2023

Siwash Point refers to the northernmost extension of high ground running from Lakeview Heights to a point jutting into the lake just north the bridge.

The word, “Siwash”, refers to indigenous people and suggests the point may have, at one time, been the location of an encampment or settlement of indigenous people. It was in common use, by both indigenous and European settlers, but has fallen out of favour in recent years.

The most striking difference between the two photos, besides the overall spread of urban development visible in the modern-day photo, is the ongoing intrusion of multi-storey structures (10 storeys and more) which are not seen in the 1909 photo.

Not only was there no need for such buildings back then, the technology to effectively construct such tall structures was just being developed. New York City’s tallest building in 1908 was only 41 storeys tall.

The other striking difference is barely captured in the modern-day photo. In the lower left corner of the photo, a chimney and the top of an evergreen tree bracket the roofline of houses and a forest of large pine trees along the ridge facing the lake. Most of Siwash Point in 1909 was vacant land. However today, only a few open spots between the residences and trees, provide glimpses that still required splicing photos together, to approximate the same vista that was easily obtained back then.

In both photos, the central highpoint is Dilworth Mountain, which rises about 268 metres above the valley floor to an elevation of just over 610 metres above sea level.

The knoll at the far left of the two photos is Mount Baldy, which reaches an elevation of just over 530 metres above sea level.

Please email your comments and suggestions for future Second Look views to Terry Robertson at [email protected].

(The older photo and was taken in 1909 by pioneer photographer G.H.E. Hudson. Credit: Canada Patent and Copyright Office / Library and Archives Canada / PA-029607.)

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

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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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