Heritage Week is celebrated across Canada – this year from February 19th to the 26th. A significant event during Heritage Week is the presentation of the Annual Heritage Awards by the Central Okanagan Heritage Society. Exemplary homes and buildings are featured in these awards as well as neighbourhoods and natural cultural heritage areas that bring beauty to our community. Of course, it is people who preserve our heritage and some people have spent years championing heritage in our community; we celebrate and honour them as well.
Awards were given in six categories:
1. Distinguished Community Service:
Alasdair Smith and Robin Digby are two craftsmen who appreciate the beauty of our heritage homes and buildings. For the past decade they have provided artisanal carpentry and conservation contracting services in and around Kelowna for over a decade. Retaining the integrity of a heritage building’s origins is not an easy task which makes sourcing and matching building materials challenging. Also required is an understanding of the unique construction techniques from the past; skills and experience that both Robin and Alasdair have acquired over the years. As trades persons and as building conservators Robin and Alasdair have each provided valuable and practical heritage building maintenance and carpentry services; we are proud to honour them with the 2023 Community Service Award.
2. Conservation project on a heritage building currently in non-residential use:
Fire Hall #2 is turning 100 next year! Built in 1924, it replaced the original wood building on the same site and continues all these years later to serve the downtown area. Yes, it has had a ‘facelift’ and some other modifications and additions; who hasn’t?! A 2014 report into the state of the brick façade made note of the fact that the mortar from 1924 was in need of repair, of course, but interestingly, the mortar from a 1990 repair even more so! The work to restore the mortar (‘repointing’), flashing and drip edges was finally completed in 2021. Firehall #2 not only continues as a working fire hall, it adds to the heritage ambience of the downtown core and makes 99 look good while doing it!
3. Conservation project on a heritage building currently in residential use:
Tear it down? Or reimagine it? The owner of 286 Lake Ave. decided on a win-win solution; they rehabilitated the 1930’s cottage, took down the incongruous ‘modern’ garage and replaced it with a carriage house that is compatible with the main house and neighbourhood in style and size. Hats off to densification and heritage preservation with a flair!
4. Continued conservation of a residential heritage building:
Built in the 1890’s the Goldie House could also win the award for the oldest house in Westbank. Robert Goldie built the house of logs back when the area was called Halls Landing. Later the house was lived in for many years by the Bailey family who moved from Oregon to Halls Landing by covered wagon; one of six early settler families that lived in the west-side area. Their daughter Clara was born in the house on April 1st 1896, the third white child born on the west-side. Doug Griffin later purchased the property which eventually went to his son Harold. Harold and his wife owned the home for 84 years; from 1931 to 2015. Now covered with shiplap siding and with some additions, the house still stands and is still lived in!
359 Cadder Avenue is more than a house; it is home to a remarkable Kelowna family. Built in the inter-war years it was the family home of Lionel & Helen Wace through the latter half of the 20th century. Lionel was a Social Worker and manager of the Kelowna office of the provincial social services department during the 1950's to the 1970's. In response to the many needs he saw, Lionel founded Project Literacy, the C.N.I.B., SHARE, Kelowna Community Resources and co-founded the Central Okanagan Foundation, all organizations helping people to get off government assistance and to live their lives with dignity. In memory of his wife, Lionel registered a ‘no-build’ Conservation Covenant on the property since Helen loved the large front lot and mature trees. In 2013 the house passed to Lionel and Helen’s son Garth and his wife Jan who have been continuing the upkeep of this beautiful home.
5. Conservation of a neighborhood or area:
“There is something special about Woodhaven Nature Conservancy. It is an oasis of wilderness in the suburbs of the lower Mission area of Kelowna BC. …it has a quality of serenity, refuge, and attentiveness that is easy to feel but hard to describe…it is a place that has been loved.”
Arthur Raymer and his wife Edith (Small) bought the Small property from Edith’s parents. Arthur, son of H.W. Raymer, Kelowna’s first mayor & a prominent builder, built the ‘Raymer Cabin’ in the 1930s. Jim and Joan Burbridge looked after the property for the Raymer family and lived in the cabin for many years. When the woodland area was slated for development in the early 1970s Jim and Joan lead the way to create Woodhaven Nature Conservancy Regional Park. The Burbridges’ continued to live in the cabin as caretakers and guardians of the park until they passed away in 1990 and 2001. After serving as a caretaker residence for some years, work was undertaken in 2019 for its new role as an outdoor, nature-based classroom and meeting space.
6. Special Heritage Project:
Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society (MCTRS) has re-opened one of the 1912-1914 Kettle Valley Railway’s construction camps to the public in Myra/Bellevue Provincial Park. The camp was “re-discovered” after the 2003 fire and the MCTRS has conserved the site. Approximately 70 men called this camp ‘home’ during the construction of the railway and now you can explore their unique cooking ovens, water wells, tent sites, watering hole, cabin foundations, tote (service) road and trail to the rail bed. Learn how these men lived, worked, and ultimately bequeathed to us a heritage site. The camp is now maintained by the Friends of the South Slopes Society (FOSS)