Most Central Okanagan communities named after respected citizens, but not Joe Rich | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Most Central Okanagan communities named after respected citizens, but not Joe Rich

Cyril Weddell's lettuce farm in the Joe Rich Valley in 1935.
Image Credit: Submitted/Joe Rich Ratepayers and Tenants Society
September 06, 2021 - 8:03 AM

While the name Kelowna is derived from the syilx word for grizzly bear, most names in the Kelowna area come from settlers and prominent people.

After all, there’s Parkinson Recreation Centre named after Mayor Dick Parkinson (1958-69), Stuart Park named after Mayor Jim Stuart (1986-96) and John Hindle Drive (mayor from 1982-84).

READ MORE: How Kelowna got its name from 'grizzly bear', despite a distinct lack of grizzlies around

Rutland was named after John Rutland who settled the area in the 1890s, Ellison after Price Ellison who came to the Okanagan from England in 1876 and Wilson’s Landing was named for Harold Fitz-Harding Wilson who settled there in 1900.

But Joe Rich was named after a man of a very different stripe, even though he was the first settler in what became known as the Joe Rich Valley.

“Little is known about this man, Joe Rich,” states the Joe Rich Ratepayers and Tenants Society webpage. “He may have been a bit of a reprobate looking for seclusion. He seems to have been a squatter and to have never held title to the land on which he built, because it was eventually obtained as a Crown Grant by the Prestons, and finally purchased by Cyril Weddell and Duncan Stewart.”

Originally the name only referred to the area along Joe Rich Creek, which is past much of the current settlement in the area that bears that name. Joe Rich Creek empties into Mission Creek near Three Forks Road and runs for some distance next to Highway 33 towards Big White.

Joe Rich now includes the area from the City of Kelowna boundary in Black Mountain out past the firehall on Highway 33.

Bits of the original Joe Rich Road still exist on both sides of Highway 33 near Loseth and Gallagher Roads and Black Mountain Drive. In some places it’s spelled Joe Riche but the society’s website says that’s not correct.

The website also indicates that there is little chance of the name being changed to honour someone more respectable.

“A downtown reporter suggested that the name Joe Rich be dropped and the area be renamed as an electoral district,” the website says. “Because of the historical nature of the Joe Rich name and the fact that most people in Kelowna know this area only as Joe Rich, the present name is not likely to die easily. As some residents have said: ‘We know where we live and it is Joe Rich Valley.’”

Other Central Okanagan place names honouring pioneers include Caesar’s Landing for Northcote Henry Caesar who settled in 1893 and built a 39.5 foot steamboat called the Wanderer.

Ewings Landing was named after Robert Leckie Ewing who lived there in the 1900s and took over the post officer in 1908.

Some areas were named after places “back home.”

Killiney Beach was named after the Hill of Killiney in Ireland by Harry Percy Hodges who settled that area in 1903.

Fintry was named by owner James Dun-Waters after Fintry Scotland.

READ MORE: iN PHOTOS: The founder of Fintry was no remittance man, he just looked like one at times

The Glenmore Valley in Kelowna was not named after Glen More. It was chosen in a naming contest.

Originally known as Starvation Flats in the Dry Valley, the area was irrigated, subdivided and incorporated by the Central Okanagan Land and Orchard Company in 1901.

Since neither of those names was very marketable for newly irrigated land, the company offered a $100 prize in a naming contest.

John Morrison had purchased a farm in the area named Glenmore so that was suggested by his wife and, also, by a Kelowna woman. They split the prize money. There are communities called Glenmore in both Scotland and Ireland.

A bit further afield, Peachland was named by developer John M. Robinson who was impressed by the peaches in the area, bought land there in 1889 and subdivided it for a townsite. He later founded two other Okanagan communities, Summerland and Naramata.

Kelowna is somewhat unusual in that it does not have numbered streets. Instead, they are named after pioneers and local dignitaries.

Most of the city’s mayors from the first century (it was incorporated in 1905) have roads big or small named after them, with some exceptions. There is no Hughes-Games Road but a Hughes Road. William Bower Hughes Games was mayor from 1947-51.

Similarly there is no Ladd Road (James John Ladd, 1952-57), no Hammill Road (Gordon Dale Hammill, 1978-82 and 1984-86).

Walter Gray, who finished off the first 100 years by serving as mayor from 1996-2005 (and again from 2011-14) has no road named after him.

And some road names are unclear as to origin. There is a Jones Street but there were two mayors named Jones, James William Jones from 1912-16 and Owen Lewis Jones from 1936-39.

Then there are the other two larger communities in the Central Okanagan that don’t have pioneer names, West Kelowna and Lake Country, although they have historic neighbourhoods within each community.

Mt. Boucherie, one West Kelowna’s most prominent features, was named after Isadore Boucherie who was a farmer and rancher. He bought land that became known as the Boucherie Ranch in the 1880s.

Gellatly Bay was named for the David Erskin Gellatly who bought 350 acres of farmland, of which the Gellately Nut Farm Regional Park remains.

READ MORE: West Kelowna's nutty roots are unique to the Okanagan, and due to the Gellatly family

As for Lake Country it’s made up of places like Winfield (named after the first ranch in the district, Winfield Ranch), Oyama (named by the postmaster in 1906 after Field Marshal Oyama Iwao’s efforts in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05) and Carr’s Landing (settler Andrew Carr planted apple, pear and peach trees there before he died in 1910).

READ MORE: The history behind Kamloops area place names

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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