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Culture & Heritage

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Magestic Oliver

Digging into Oliver’s roots will surely enhance, intrigue and elicit excitement while planning your visit to this beautiful, little town.

The People

The First Nations of The Okanagan

The Syilx of the Okanagan Nation, live in eight communities in the interior of British Columbia and Washington. Over 400 band members live and work on the Osoyoos Indian Reserve which stretches from Oliver to Osoyoos.

First Nations once traveled widely to fishing, gathering and hunting areas. Each year, the first harvests of roots, berries, fish, and game were celebrated by ceremonies honoring the food chiefs who provided for the people. During the winter, people returned to permanent winter villages. The names of many of the settlements in the Okanagan Valley–Osoyoos, Keremeos, Penticton, and Kelowna–come from aboriginal words for these settled areas and attest to the long history of the Syilx people on this land.

Situated in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, the Osoyoos Indian Band has a strong vision for its future, which it is realizing through initiatives in agriculture, eco-tourism, and commercial, industrial and residential developments. The combination of rich agricultural land and desert tracts provides ideal conditions for many of the Band’s businesses, most notably their vineyards and winery.

On an overcast but warm September morning, Dyawen Louis’ voice echoes over the southern Okanagan Valley. In the Nsyilxcen language, the interpreter from the Osoyoos Indian Band’s Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre sings our tour group a traditional anthem for the Okanagan or syilx people who have lived and traveled across B.C’s Interior for thousands of years.

The Arts

Art Creates A Colourful Existence

Oliver celebrates our artistic side, keep your eyes peeled for vibrant, strange, stunning and captivating art around town in various businesses On just about any given week in Oliver you can catch local and touring musicians, theatre, dance troupes or comedians performing live at various venues. With so many diverse events, venues and a warm season it is no wonder performers head to Oliver.

Performance lives here

The Venables Theatre a phenomenal performing arts centre in the heart of the South Okanagan. This mid-sized community theatre, hosts a wide range of performances, with its spacious lobby, ample stage and a sophisticated lighting and audio system. Catch a local dance performance from the Dance Studio in Oliver, or a beautifully executed Ballet from Ballet Kelowna. Get on your feet with music from artists like Brett Kissel, or feel your heart warm with the nostalgic performance from Fred Penner.

The History

Ten to Twelve Thousand Years Ago

Oliver is nestled between mature forested mountains and is located at the northern tip of the Sonoran Desert. The landscape consists of a complex array of habitats and our region supports one of the most diverse assemblages of species in Canada, many of which are not found elsewhere in the country.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the ancestors of First Nations people have lived in BC since the last ice age, ten to twelve thousand years ago.

In 1919, the British Columbia Government, under the premiership of John Oliver, undertook an initiative to irrigate 8000 acres of semi-arid desert land in the South Okanagan. This project, titled the Southern Okanagan Lands Project (SOLP), resulted in the development of one of the most successful tree fruit and viticulture areas in Canada. The year 1927 saw the completion of the irrigation project which was twenty-five miles long. It consisted of the concrete diversion dam, twenty miles of concrete ditches, twenty-seven flumes, and a wood stave siphon. The Ditch is often called the “life line” of our community for without it, Oliver would not exist.

Oliver’s Museum hosts many exciting events during the Fall to Spring
months. Check out their website and facebook page for more information.


Farm Fresh Oliver

With a sweet spring smell in the air, the sun rising in the east, and blossoms bloom across our beautiful valley, the Oliver region is a must visit for a wide variety of fresh produce. That first bite into a crisp cherry, or a juicy peach is so much better when you pick it yourself. With over 400 farms in the Oliver area, you are sure to find the produce you need to make that farm fresh dinner you have been thinking of all season. Oliver’s main highway boasts many fruit stands and it isn’t far to find many U-Pick Farms. Plan your trip to our region around your favourite fruits to make sure you don’t miss out on the first bite.

What’s in Bloom

April | Sagebrush Buttercup, Upland Larkspur, Antelope-brush
April/May | Arrow-leaved Balsamroot May | Bitterroot June | Prickly-pear Cactus
June/July | Mariposa Lily, Long-leaved Phlox
August/September | Rabbitbrush

Blossom Harvest

Apricots | April 10 – April 25 | July 20 – August 10
Cherries | April 20 – May 7 | July 1 – August 1
Peaches | April 20 – May 2 | July 1 – Sept 1
Pears | April 25 – May 10 | August 15 – Sept 30
Plums/Prunes | April 29 – May 10 | Aug 15 – Sept 10
Apples | May 15 – May 20 | August 15 – October 30
Nuts | Late September – Beginning of November
Grapes | September – October

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