Kelowna is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. It serves as the head office of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan. The name Kelowna derives from an Okanagan language term for “grizzly bear”.
Kelowna has a population of 194,882; the third-largest metropolitan area in the province behind only Vancouver and Victoria and is the seventh-largest city in the province. It ranks as the 22nd-largest in Canada and is the largest city in British Columbia that is located inland. Kelowna’s city proper contains 211.82 square kilometres (81.78 sq mi), and the census metropolitan area contains 2,904.86 square kilometres (1,121.57 sq mi). In 2016, the population of Kelowna consisted of 127,380 individuals occupying 53,903 private dwellings.
Nearby communities include the City of West Kelowna (also referred to as Westbank, Westside) to the west across Okanagan Lake, Lake Country and Vernon to the north, and Peachland to the southwest, and further to the south, Summerland and Penticton.
Exact dates of first settlement are unknown, but a northern migration led to the peopling of this area some 9000 years ago. The Indigenous Syilx people were the first inhabitants of the region, and they continue to live in the region.
Father Charles M. Pandosy, a French Roman Catholic Oblate missionary, became the first European to settle in Kelowna in 1859 at a place named “L’anse au sable” (Bay of Sand) in reference to the sandy shoreline. Kelowna was officially incorporated on May 4, 1905.
In May 2005, Kelowna celebrated its centennial. In the same year, construction began on a new five-lane William R. Bennett Bridge to replace the three-lane Okanagan Lake Bridge. It was part of a plan to alleviate traffic problems experienced during the summer tourist season. The new bridge was completed in 2008.
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