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Winfield in the Early Days

‘Tis hard to believe that it’s been twenty years since the District of Lake Country was incorporated. In 1995 the four communities of Carr’s Landing, Okanagan Centre, Oyama and Winfield incorporated to form the municipality of Lake Country.

It is interesting to look back at the beginnings of these four communities. Following is an excerpt of an article, “Winfield, British Columbia”, which was published in 1958 for the British Columbia centenary. In this article one also finds the origin of “Pelmewash” — the name of our new parkway.

For time out of mind the district now known as “Winfield” was called by the Indians who were then its only inhabitants, “K’Laokum” meaning “the open flat”, and “Wood’s Lake” was called “Pelme-wash”.

Winfield bottomland
Winfield bottomland

Winfield is that part of the Okanagan Valley midway between the cities of Kelowna and Vernon, roughly four to five miles in length The boundary on the north is about three-quarters of a mile north of the south end of Wood’s Lake, and it is bounded on the south by Duck Lake or “Schoocum Lake” in past history. On the east is the rangeland of the hills, including Fir Valley and extending to Beaver Lake (the source of irrigation for the district) and the adjacent chain of lakes. The western boundary is the crest of the hills dividing the brow of Okanagan Lake and that occupied by Wood’s and Duck Lakes.

The western portion of the Winfield district, which is mostly bench land, is almost entirely in orchards, the bottom land in mixed farming and some orchards, and the eastern ranges in cattle grazing.

Above the benches, in the timber land, is a chain of 15 beautiful mountain lakes, comprising the Beaver Lake group. The best known lakes in Beaver Lake vicinity are Crooked Lake, Deer Lake, Island Lake and Dee Lake. …

Until the year 1920, the Winfield district was known rather vaguely as “Wood’s Lake”. “Winfield” was chosen at a public meeting when a more definite name was desired for the district. A number of names were suggested and after several ballots were taken the final choice was between “Winfield” suggested by W. R. Powley and “Woodsdale” suggested by M. P. Williams, the final vote going to “Winfield”. This was the name of the first ranch in the district — Winfield Lodge — owned by Thomas Wood, from whence also came the name “Wood’s Lake”.1

1 Powley, Mrs. W. R. “Winfield, British Columbia” in Winfield, 1958. Early days of Winfield. Mrs. W. R. Powley, comp. Winfield, BC: Winfield Women’s Institute for British Columbia Centenary, 1958.

Photo source: William Smith Collection. Lake Country Museum and Archives.

Note: During this celebratory anniversary year of incorporation look for other articles about the beginnings of, and naming of, the four wards of the District of Lake Country: Carr’s Landing, Okanagan Centre, Oyama and Winfield.



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