Okanagan Valley Hotels:
The History of West Kelowna
Home to lush green orchards and vineyards, an azure lake, and mountain and forest as far as the eye can see, West Kelowna has gone through a major transformation in the past few decades. From its indigenous roots to a place where business and tourism have become major industries, what remains is a beautiful place that you will want to explore from Okanagan Valley hotels such as the Best Western Wine Country Inn and Suites.
From the Beginning
Built around the dormant stratovolcano of Mount Boucherie on the fertile land west of Okanagan Lake, the area now known as West Kelowna was originally inhabited by the Syilx (Okanagan) people.
Part of the Interior Salish First Nations ethnological and linguistic group, the Syilx lived on the land going back more than 3,000 years where they hunted, fished, gathered and eventually traded with fur traders who arrived in the Okanagan in the early 1800s. Gold miners also migrated through the area to get to the Cariboo region before more European settlers came.
What’s in a Name
In the early 1800s, Westbank became the site of a trading centre along the Old Cariboo trail. It was originally called MacDonald’s Plain after an officer with the Hudson’s Bay Company, but that name later changed to Sunnyside after the home of the first European female settler Susan Allison, who lived at what is now Quails’ Gate Winery.
In 1902, John Davidson and Shannon Marshall, the first postmasters at the Shannon Lake post office, changed the name to Westbank.
In the meantime, the local Syilx people became part of the Okanagan Indian Band, located near Vernon, BC, until the early 1960s, when the Westbank First Nations was developed, and the band members and council began exploring options for self-government.
From Westbank to West Kelowna
Westbank was an incorporated city within the Central Okanagan Regional District for more than 100 years until a 2007 governance referendum was approved to change it from rural governance under the regional district to an incorporated municipal government. Originally named the Westside District Municipality, it was later renamed the City of West Kelowna in 2015.
Westbank is now one of the communities within West Kelowna and encapsulates the old downtown area.
A New City
West Kelowna’s location on the hillsides and western shore of Okanagan Lake makes it an attractive four-season playground. The city has seen immeasurable growth and has become a popular spot for vacationers, with a number of West Kelowna hotels, shops, restaurants, and cinemas opening along its north-end corridor.
West Kelowna is also well known for its wineries. While Mission Hill Estate and Quail’s Gate are some of the region’s oldest establishments, many new wineries have cropped up in the past decade. Tourism West Kelowna lists 13 wineries along the Westside Wine Trail, including one of Canada’s only indigenous owned wineries, Indigenous World, which is owned by the former chief of Westbank First Nations.
For more information on winery hotels in the Okanagan and West Kelowna accommodations, read our blog: Looking for a Wine Getaway? Think West Kelowna.
The Best Western Plus Wine Country Hotel and Suites is one of the best places to stay in West Kelowna for those wanting to explore the area’s beautiful wineries, golf courses, and other attractions. We are one of the West Kelowna hotels with a pool, waterslide and jetted hot tub, as well as wheelchair accessible and pet-friendly rooms.