National Heritage Week officially starts tomorrow.
Groups and organizations from around the Okanagan gathered at Kelowna Community Theatre today (Feb. 19) to kick off the week.
Central Okanagan Heritage Society president Donald Knox describes heritage as “largely looked at as things that were left by previous generations.”
Knox says Kelowna hasn’t always been a place with strong heritage.
“Penticton had more because they were so shaped with the mining industry to east and Princeton, so it became a hub largely based on the railroad. Vernon was, again, the railroad came there early on and that’s where the steamships would come. It started largely because of the gold rush… Kelowna was just a little place in the middle with not much going on.”
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. groups such as the Metis Society, the Lake Country Museum, Okanagan Regional Library, and the Kelowna Tree Protectors set up booths to educate adults and children alike that stopped in at the free event.
“You don’t really understand how you got here unless you know where you came from.”
Knox says that’s the quote that comes to mind when asked about why people should learn about local heritage.
“The area that we are in here, the Kelowna Community Theatre, the Yacht Club, and City Hall, that was all part of the Simpson Covenant. When S.M. Simpson sold a portion to the city for a really good deal he said he wanted to make sure it was being maintained for the cultural aspects in Kelowna. That’s why you have the museum, the art gallery, the library all in this area, because he was the one who had the foresight to say you need to have a spot for these buildings.”
Heritage Week is packed in the Central Okanagan.
Tomorrow (Feb. 20), there will be a dress-up event for families at the Lake Country Museum, on Feb. 22 the Central Okanagan Naturalist Club will lead a bird-spotting walking tour, and on Feb. 23 will be the 39th Annual Heritage Awards at the Benvoulin Heritage Church.
A full list of events can be found at okheritagesociety.com.