Love for each other, their business kept Kelowna family together for 76 years | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Love for each other, their business kept Kelowna family together for 76 years

Fumerton's department store on Bernard Avenue in the 1970s.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Old Kelowna
February 14, 2021 - 3:31 PM

A multi-generational department store that survived a world war and the Great Depression could have been the glue that held a well-known Kelowna couple together for 76 years.

John Francis Fumerton (1863-1964) and his wife, Annie Maria Fumerton (1864-1964) moved to Kelowna in 1916 from Alberta. In 1919, just after the end of the First World War, John established a clothing, dry goods and shoe store, J.F. Fumerton Store on Bernard Avenue next to the Paramount Theatre.

It was later relocated to the corner of Bernard Avenue and Pandosy Street, which currently houses Mosaic Books and was more commonly known as Fumertons Department Store. The beloved Kelowna landmark was known in the city for 67 years, according to the Okanagan Historical Society.

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The store remained at that location until the 1980s and spanned multiple generations, according to the society.

Businesses like Fumerton helped establish Kelowna as an important regional service supply centre and reflects the city's development as the population and economic base increased due to the growth of the fruit industry, according to the City of Kelowna.

And John and Annie were married for 76 years, said Kelowna historian Bob Hayes.

“They died within a few months of each other,” he said. “Which is not surprising since they obviously loved each other.”

Kelowna resident Gary Lewis is the grandson of John and Annie Fumerton and remembers them at family gatherings as “quiet people.”

How they remained married for so long is a secret they’ve taken to the grave.

“That’s a secret I guess we’d all like to know…. Whenever I was in their presence they were very quiet, maybe they didn’t argue,” Lewis said.

“Perhaps it was the store that kept them together because they had a common goal to see that it survived so it could be passed along to their children, maybe that had something to do with it, something to focus on."

During the Great Depression, John would help those in the need in the area by paying for their rent and giving them food.

“They had such a good reputation,” Hayes said, who also worked at the department store briefly as a teenager in the 1980s. “They were such a devoted couple.”

John and Annie can be found together in the Pioneer Cemetery. After their deaths, children Frank and Turner ran the store until its closure, Hayes said. The Fumerton’s grandchildren also worked at the store.

“It’s part of the story of Fumertons... You could go into Fumertons and you know who was going to serve you,” he said. “It was known for its quality and its service.”

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“They were really good at that personal touch,” Hayes said. 


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