Okangan Explosion!

by: Branden Winckers

Agricultural History of the Okanagan

Origins and Dates

Agriculture started in the Okanagan in 1880 when Father Pandosy planted apples in the Oblate Mission although Hiram J. "Okanagan" Smith planted the first fruit trees in the Okanagan. Grapes were grown in the Valley around 1905 although machinery was not introduced until 1921. The machines worked for packing houses and orchards used trucks to ship apples. Growers in the 1930's all shipped by train, they would either ship in straight loads or mixed loads. A straight load was when just one designated fruit was being shipped and a mixed load was when there was a variety of fruits and vegetables being shipped.


Agriculture is drastically important to the Okanagan! Agriculture is all around us whether is orchards or vineyards. It's what makes the area thrive today. We continue to use the methods which the early settlers would use in their day but we simplify them using machinery and tools. To this day we commemorate the individuals who made this Valley what it is today.

Role of the Okanagan Brigade Trail

The Okanagan Brigade Trail was the trail that connected the South to the North and vice versa which was the main transportation route for the HBC and NWC. The brigade trail was important to the growth and development of the OK Valley because it was the only route that brought in the Missionaries, Miners, Ranchers, and the Farmers which was all thanks to the Aboriginals for originally creating the trail. Through the years of 1821-1848, the brigade trail was run under the HBC but ended after the decreasing amount of fur trading, but even when the fur trade fell the it was still used as a transportation network. Without the development of the Brigade trail, West-Kelowna would not exist, it is truly the backbone of our town!

Early European Profile: J.W. Hughes

Early History

Hughes is a very vital person to the Okanagan. In 1928, he got the grape industry up and running again after Wilcox's previous failure. He grew the first large scale commercial grapes in the Okanagan. Through the years he expanded from his 45 acre near the OK mission to 75 acres in 1933. eventually he had over 300 acres of grapes in production!

Reasons for Settlement

Hughes knew what he was looking for in land and the Okanagan was the right place for him. He was looking for lots of land (which he got), good growing seasons (which we have) and fertile soil (which the Okanagan has plenty to boot).

Early Accomplishments (in Europe and North America)

J.W. had many accomplishments but only a few were truly important. In 1887 Hughes was the the title of being the Father of the grape industry.

Legacy Today

Kelownas Father of the grape business will be forever appreciated and remembered for bringing the grape industry up and running again. He is truly the one who gave the Okanagan the title of "Wine Country".

Interesting Facts

-Agriculture in the Okanagan started in 1880 when Father Pandosy planted apples in the Oblate Mission.

-W.J. Wilcox pf Salmon Arm produced the first commercial grape in BC in 1907 but was slowly unsuccessful.

Driving Question

Hughes was the first man of the Okanagan to create the first commercial vineyard in 1926. He planted his orchards in the Okanagan Mission and Black Mountain Areas. He moved to the Okanagan in 1917 and the 1920's and 30's he started several vineyards becoming well known as the largest grower of grapes and raspberries. Without J.W. Hughes the okanagan grape and wine industry would not be the same, and for that our legal drinkers are grateful for.