It is one of the most Penticton things there can be in the city, and one of the most prominent visually, but do you know how the Penticton sign came to be on Munson Mountain?
The large silica and concrete letters spelling out the word Penticton, was built by civic boosters in 1937 to ‘put Penticton on the map,’ according to the B.C. Register of Historic Places. Often compared to the famous Hollywood sign, the South Okanagan landmark is actually a bit bigger. The sign measures 16. 5 metres (54.33 feet) high and 93.99 m (308.39 feet) wide. The Hollywood sign, in comparison is 45 feet high.
Local historian, Randy Manuel, told the Western News that the sign’s creation was a product of an inability of the city and developers to commercialize the park space.
First constructed by members of the Board of Trade, the sign was improved in 1941 by Jaycees, Board of Trade members and Boy Scouts. Further work, weeding, was done by the Associated Travelers Club and many school groups. Between 1972 and 1983 volunteers hauled 44,000 pounds of silica rock to the site.
“That would have been one heck of a job to haul those bags of silica down the slope and put them into place,” Manuel previously told the Western News.
To put that into more tangible terms, 44,000 pounds would require 880 individual loads, if each person carried 50 pounds at a time.
A road to the mountain was built as part of the same initiative. In 1998 concrete was laid down on the Penticton sign and silica imbedded in it. Real estate firm Coldwell Banker Okanagan Realty headed up a cleanup crew for the sign in 2017, giving it a new paint job.
Munson Mountain is the hill where the sign sits, and it provides a breath-taking spot to view the scenery and takes photos. According to information from the BC Register of Historic Places, it is named after H.H. Munson. He was a well-known barrister from Winnipeg who visited Penticton in 1906 and invested in considerable land in the area, including on the benches of Skaha Lake and in the Upper Bench area.
While his business as a barrister kept the Munson’s away from Penticton most of the time, they did manage to spend much of each summer in Penticton. He died in 1910, and his wife staying in Penticton until her death in 1940.
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