OKANAGAN EXPLOSION

by Chiara Meijers

HISTORY OF FARMERS IN THE OKANAGAN VALLEY

"Where did the first fruit trees come from?" said Charles Ora Card in 1886. The first fruit trees planted in Okanagan were planted by Hiran F. "Okanagan" Smith in 1857. He carried his first trees into the valley from Hope.

Agriculture started in the Okanagan when father Pandosy planted apple trees. Since the 1880's the fruit business has grown steadily and it is interesting see how it has developed over the years.

The earliest recorded date of grapes being grown in the Okanagan was in 1905. The machinery was first introduced to the fruit industry in 1921, for packing houses in the apple industry and in 1930 shipping was all done by train.

J.W. Hughes

EARLY HISTORY

J.W. Hughes was recognized for his generous spirit and was a revolutionary agriculturist who establishes the first successful commercial vineyard in 1926. He planted his vines in the Okanagan Mission and Black Mountain areas and he was often referred to as the father of the Okanagan grape industry. He moved to the Okanagan in 1917 and in the 1920s and 1930s he started several vineyards in the Okanagan valley and became known as the largest grower of grapes and raspberries.

REASONS FOR SETTLEMENTS IN THE OKANAGAN VALLEY

When the grape industry slowed down, J.W. Hughes got the grape business going again in 1928, he thought that Kelowna was the perfect place to grow grapes.

He called his first vineyard, pioneer vineyards, and he was on top of business and still growing grapes. Instead of shipping through packing houses, he wanted to ship the grapes by his own. So he sold his own grapes, and shipped in small loads.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN OKANAGAN VALLEY

Started growing grapes in 1926 expanding from 45 acres near Okanagan to 75 acres by 1933, eventually he had over 300 acres. He was one of the earlier growers in Kelowna to produce grapes, which has become a leading agricultural industry.

LEGACY TODAY

He grew the first large scale commercial grapes in the Okanagan in late 1920s and sold it to wines. He made the production of grapes a leading agriculture industry and got the grape business going again when it slowed down. J.W. Hughes was a significant member of the early horticultural industry and his house is still represented of changing urban patterns in Kelowna in later twentieth century.

DRIVING QUESTION

What was the impact of the early Europeans on the growth and development of the Okanagan valley?


The impact J.W. Hughes had on the growth and development of the Okanagan valley was:

He was the largest grower of grapes, and when the grape business was slow he got it going again. He was one of the earliest growers in Kelowna to produce grapes, which he made a leading agriculture industry, and had over 300 acres.

INTERSTNG FACTS

  • Besides growing grapes he also grew cucumbers, asparagus, raspberries, flowers and sold vegetable seeds, and he experimented with game and poultry farming in the 1940s.
  • J.W. Hughes planed St Hubertus and Oak Vineyards in 1928, and those are one of the only wineries in British Columbia producing Chasselas (primary white grape grown in Switzerland also known as Fedant.)