The sorting line at the Vernon Fruit Union, Winfield, early 1940s. Photo: Lake Country Museum

The history of Okanagan fruit farming detailed by local author

Don McNair’s Apple Valley: A Century of Fruit Farming in the Okanagan visits Lake Country Museum

Local author Don McNair is sharing the history of agriculture and fruit farming in the Okanagan.

With his new book Apple Valley: A Century of Fruit Farming in the Okanagan, which will be presented at the Lake Country Museum on June 8, details the creation and difficulty of the original fruit farming markets.

“Fruit farming did not come naturally to the Okanagan,” McNair said. “People had to bend the environment in order for farming to prosper. Bend the water systems, introduce new species and develop pesticides.”

“It was thought that it was a relatively easy thing to do to generate good fruit and to make a living, and that was utterly false.”

READ MORE: Lake Country Museum hosts fruit-farming history author

Though McNair has no farming background, this was a project he and the Lake Country Museum added to their commitment to making the massive amounts of material in the archives available to the public.

With 28 pages and lots of detailed pictures, Apple Valley: A Century of Fruit Farming in the Okanagan additionally breaks down how the local economic industry was impacted by 2oth century farmers and the massive labour force.

McNair said the size of the industry was one of the biggest things that surprised him during his research, and that the Okanagan was treated as a single body, as the same difficulties farmers faced at the time expanded across the valley.

“There was enough common issues and problems so you could treat the whole valley as one, there was a unity in the story,” he said.

READ MORE: Alberta company proposes expanded bus service in Okanagan-Shuswap

Another surprise to McNair was the reactions from readers on how poorly the agricultural industry treated the environment. It was an industry that people originally thought was gentle on the environment.

“It was always an onslaught on the environment,” he said.

“Only now are we finding ways around the onslaught, as agriculture still involves hammering the environment.”

The difficulties and environmental footprint were both big parts of the story that still affect the remaining fruit farming industries in the Okanagan.

READ MORE: Boil water notice rescinded for Lake Country, Kelowna

The Apple Valley book launch, along with a meet-and-greet with McNair, is slotted for Saturday, June 8, at 2 p.m., at the museum.

To report a typo, email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bernard Avenue will be closed to vehicles this summer

Kelowna’s main drag will be a pedestrian-only roadway from June 29 through the Labour Day long weekend

Kelowna’s Homebase Baseball Tournament cancelled

A live auction will still take place to raise funds for Joeanna’s House

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation launches fundraising initiative to support local health care

The initiative also highlights workers at Kelowna General Hospital

Kelowna man charged with animal cruelty

The 20-year-old Kelowna resident remains in custody

Proposed wine centre in historic downtown Kelowna building moved to public hearing

The public will get an opportunity to give input on the proposed 625-person capacity wine centre

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

Summerland adopts sign policy for Bottleneck Drive members

Policy governs directional signs for wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries

Enderby’s drive-in not safe from top doc’s 50-car limit

Starlight Drive-In opened with reduced capacity, COVID-19 safety measures in place

Parking lot patios a go in Vernon

Council votes in favour of allowing businesses to expand commercial space into on-street parking spots

Shuswap cabin owner disputes request to stay home in Alberta

Alberta resident redrafts response to CSRD request to stay home

Petition seeks to clean up Okanagan forests ‘carpeted’ with shotgun shells

Penticton man says making shot-gun shells refundable would create cleaner forests

Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announce permanent closure of facility

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Most Read