Kelowna's 'Reid's Corner' finally has a new landmark | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna's 'Reid's Corner' finally has a new landmark

This new sign makes where John Reid built his Reid's Corners store in 1921,
January 06, 2021 - 7:00 AM

If you had to ask someone in Kelowna where Reid's Corner is, you were exposed as a newcomer. It's an area known by the words alone — there are no maps, no signs and typically very little information to help you find it, not that it's a secret.

The City of Kelowna has finally changed that, not with a street sign or road name, but a recently erected concrete sign with the words 'Reid's Corner' at the corner of Highway 97 and Sexsmith Road.

But it turns out both the City of Kelowna — and most residents — had the name wrong. The new sign honours a pioneer family that built a grocery store and gas station called 'Reid’s Corners' in 1921.

That store is long gone, having been torn down in the 1960s when the provincial Department of Highways needed the land to improve the intersection of the five roads leading into Reid’s Corners.

John Reid was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1886 and emigrated to Winnipeg in 1904. He moved to the Okanagan in 1910, his son Dennis Reid wrote in the 52nd edition of the Okanagan Historical Society’s annual report, published in 1988.

John Reid married Annie Evelyn Smith, of Rutland, in 1913 and built the store and gas station in 1921 at the north end of Rutland where Rutland Road and Sexmith Road intersected with what is now Old Vernon Road.

John Reid was a steam engineer on the Prairies before coming to the Okanagan and continued that work, mostly at local sawmills, while his wife was the chief storekeeper, their son wrote.

Image Credit: Submitted/Okanagan Historical Society

“Originally there were only three corners, the fourth and fifth being created in 1923, when the Government built the 'shortcut' through Ellison, which is now the main highway running past the Kelowna Airport,” Dennis Reid wrote.

Supplies originally had to be shipped from Vancouver to Vernon then by boat to Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna. That was before the rail line was completed from Vernon to Kelowna in 1925.

“Later they (supplies) came by train and were put off at the local Rutland train station,” Dennis Reid wrote. “It is worth noting that these goods often sat for several hours at the un-manned station but nothing was ever stolen — a tribute to the people of the day.”

In 1926, John Reid built a large dining hall to cater to workers at a new nearby packing house but the season was so short that it did not prove viable. The dining hall was converted to a new home for the family, turning the old living quarters into an expanded grocery store.

“Rural electricity did not arrive until the 1930s, so illumination for evening hours was originally kerosene and Aladdin lamps and later the Coleman gasoline lamps,” Dennis Reid wrote. “Refrigeration for butter, milk, meat and soft drinks was by ice. 'Putting up the ice' was an annual winter chore, when groups of residents spent a week or two cutting blocks of ice for storage from nearby ponds.”

Many of those ponds are now gone, he noted.

“Mr. Reid was independent so he handled three different brands of gasoline from three pumps, quite unique among merchants of the Valley,” Dennis Reid wrote.

In 1938 the store and property were sold to Stan Duggan of Winfield and later to the Hall family. The Reids moved to Vancouver where they died in 1958 and 1960.

Crossroads Supplies in 2003
Crossroads Supplies in 2003
Image Credit: Facebook/Old Kelowna

In the 1950s there were two stores at Reid’s Corners, according to a report about the Rutland Board of Trade in the 55th Edition of the Okanagan Historical Society. One was the original Reid’s Corners store and the other the Crossroads Supplies.

The stores are still fondly remembered. An October 2020 posting on the Old Kelowna Facebook page drew dozens of responses from people with fond memories of, at least, the Crossroads Supplies store.

The recent widening of Highway 97 and the relocation of Rutland Road to a roundabout at its intersection with Old Vernon Road means there are no longer five roads at Reid’s Corners.

But, the name — or, at least, the City of Kelowna's version of the name, which says Corner instead of Corners — is now emblazoned on the concrete wall, even though it’s still surrounded by a construction fence.

The City of Kelowna is spending $90,000 on the project started last fall that will continue to the fall of 2021.

“A meadow planting is planned for the area and will be seeded with native and regionally appropriate species that thrive in our climate,” the City says on its website. “The meadow will evolve over time as the grasses and flowering plants blend into a stable ecosystem.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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