Early Agriculture in the Okanagan

Mirlanda Monster Social Studies 9

History of Agriculture

The okanagan is home several orchards and wineries. in 1886 Charles Ora card spent several weeks travelling through the Boundary country and the Okanagan. Fruit trees were planted by Hiram F "okanagan" Smith in 1857. In 1862 the Oblate Fathers planted the planted apples in the Mission near present day Kelowna. In 1869 Tom Ellis planted an orchard in Penticton. The fruit business has been growing steadily since the late 1800s and grapes began to grow in 1905. Due to the great expansion of the fruit business it allowed for more Europeans to want to come and explore the valley.The Okanagan leads in the production of apples, grapes, and soft fruits.

The Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail

Created in 1811 by David Stuart, the Fur Brigade Trail (FBT) was of a lot of importance to the early agriculturists. Once the fur trade dwindled down in 1848 it allowed for Euorpeans to travel the FBT. Due to the FBT early settlers were able to find the Okanagan Valley and establish areas to grow food and other important recources. The FBT was also used to import and export recources, important to the growth of the orchards and wineries.

Early European Profile

Early history of Jesse Willard Hughes (J.W. Hughes)

Born in 18887 in Iowa, J.W. Hughes had a great influence on the Okanagan agriculture. Hughes moved to Alberta in 1908, and he married Ruth Wolrod just before he moved to Kelowna in 1917. In 1926 he re-started growing grapes in kelowna. He started vineyards in the Black Mountain and the Okanagan Mission area as well as the Ellison/ Glenmore area. Over the years he continued to grow grapes, and began to ship them on his own.

Reasons for Settlement

J.W Hughes found that the Okanagan Valley was a very appealing area. Its rich fertile soil and land was very appealing to this young orchidist. Because he wanted to grow grapes, as well as cucumbers, asparagus, raspberries, and flowers the valley was an easy resource to do so.

Legacy Today/ Accomplishments

Hughes is know as the Father of the Okanagan grape industry ( well know as the largest grower of grapes and raspberries).He started the first successeful commercial grape vineyard being Pioneer Vineyards, established in 1926. Hughes also allowed for the British Columbia Grape Growers association (BCGA). He is also recognized for his kind spirit as he gave away several of his flowers to hospitals and Rotary clubs.


  • by 1933 he had over 300 acres of grapes in production
  • not only was a he successful agriculturist he, he also built his house in 1933 at what is known as 806 Benard Avenue
  • Peachland, Summerland, and Narramata are places expanded by early agriculture.

Driving Question

The impact J.W. Hughes had on the growth and development of the Okanagan
Valley was his ability to experiment with areas around the okanagan to expand the Valley. Once other Europeans began to hear about the growth of fruit in the Okanagan, many settlers wanted to come for the fertile soil and great climate. Because Hughes had re-started the grape industry, Eugene Rittchie came soon after, and attempted to grow grapes in the Black Mountain area, but soon decided to grow grapes in Oliver, from there is soon became one of the okanagan's white grape industries. Due to J.W. Hughes coming, it allowed early agriculturists to explore and settle, and the Valley was experimented with and expanded.