|Town of Osoyoos|
|Motto: Canada's warmest welcome|
|• Mayor||Stu Wells|
|• Governing Body||Osoyoos Town Council|
|• Town||8.76 km2 (3.38 sq mi)|
|Elevation||283 m (928 ft)|
|• Density||553.1/km2 (1,433/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8)|
|• Summer (DST)||Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)|
|Postal code span||V0H|
Osoyoos (// o-SOO-ews, historically // SOO-ews) is a town in the southern part of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia near the border with Washington state, between Penticton and Omak. The town is also adjacent to the Indian Reserve of the Osoyoos Indian Band. The origin of the name Osoyoos was the word suius meaning "narrowing of the waters" in the local Okanagan language (Syilx'tsn). The "O-" prefix is not indigenous in origin and was attached by settler-promoters wanting to harmonize the name with other O-names in the Okanagan Country (Oliver, Omak, Oroville, Okanogan). There is one local newspaper, the Osoyoos Times.
The town’s population of 4,845 swells in the summer months with visitors from elsewhere in British Columbia and neighboring Alberta, as well as elsewhere in Canada. There is also a newer contingent of international visitors, supported by the proximity to the Kelowna International Airport about 1.5 hours north of the town. There is also a rapidly growing year-round retiree population as is evident with the recent boom of condominium and suburban development (though somewhat thwarted by the 2008–09 economic downturn). There are another 1,892 people surrounding the town within the "Okanagan-Similkameen A" area.
Aboriginal people have lived in the Osoyoos area for thousands of years, as evidenced by rock and an oral tradition explaining their history before Europeans arrived to the valley in 1811.
The first Europeans to Osoyoos were fur traders working for the Pacific Fur Company, an American enterprise. They ventured up the Okanagan River to Osoyoos Lake and farther north. After the Hudson’s Bay Company took over the fur trade in 1821, the Okanagan Valley became a major trade route for supplies to inland forts of British Columbia and furs that were shipped south to the Columbia River and the Pacific to European and Asian markets. The final Hudson’s Bay Company brigade in 1860 was the end of an era, as gold rushes transformed the economy of the new Colony of British Columbia. As parties of miners headed for the Fraser goldfields via the Okanagan Trail, they commonly met conflict with the Okanagan people.  The Dewdney Trail passed through Osoyoos on its way from Hope to the Kootenays. The Dewdney Trail now forms the backbone of the Crowsnest Highway.
Thousands of miners heading to the goldfields and drovers with large herds of livestock crossed the 49th parallel after 1858. A custom house was built in Osoyoos in 1861 with John Carmichael Haynes the tax collector. Haynes was also the first pioneer settler who obtained land along the Okanagan River north of Osoyoos that had been part of the Osoyoos Indian Reserve established by the Joint Indian Reserve Commission in 1877. These lands, now known as the Haynes Lease lands, can still be visited today and are home to an original barn.
Osoyoos was incorporated as a village in 1946 when the railway arrived and became a town in the 1980s. The railway was discontinued, and its stationhouse and grounds now serve as the Osoyoos Sailing Club.
Location, geography and ecology
Osoyoos is situated on the east-west Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3) with a significant ascent out of the Okanagan Valley in either direction. The Crowsnest headed east begins with an 18 km (11 mi) switchback up the flank of the Okanagan Highland with a 685 m (2,247 ft) rise to the mining and ranching region of Anarchist Mountain, which is part of the Boundary Country (the stretch of rising highway is also referred to as Anarchist Mountain). Highway 3 westbound leads to Keremeos and the Similkameen Valley via Richter Pass. On Highway 97 south, there is a 24 hour border crossing between Canada and the United States between Osoyoos and Oroville, Washington. The border crossing is located 4 km (2.5 mi) south of the Highway 3 and 97 intersection on the northwest side of town.
The town is situated on Osoyoos Lake, which has a perimeter of 47.9 km (29.8 mi), an elevation of 276 m (906 ft), a maximum depth of 63 m (207 ft) and a mean depth of 14 m (46 ft). The lake’s elevation marks the lowest point in Canada of the Okanagan Valley.
The far southern reaches of the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys are part of a threatened ecosystem in Canada known as shrub-steppe. Specifically, the ecosystem of the area is named after the Antelope Brush plant typical of the local climate. This ecosystem was once more prevalent in the South Okanagan but is now becoming fragmented and degraded due to the spread of agriculture, urban development, and other human activities. The area is also sometimes referred to as the Osoyoos Arid Biotic Zone.
Since 2003, there has been an ongoing feasibility study by Parks Canada to determine the need for protection of a large area of grasslands west of the town known as the South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen National Park Reserve Feasibility Study.
The climate, according to the Köppen climate classification, is semi-arid (BSk) with summers that are generally hot and dry. September and October are usually dry and sunny with cool mornings. Winters are short and mild, but can be cold for brief periods during Arctic outflow conditions. Spring arrives earlier than other parts of the Okanagan.
During the summer months, the southern Okanagan Valley is among the hottest areas in Canada, and Osoyoos is often the hottest place in Canada. Temperatures typically reach the mid 30s °C to about 40°C (95-104°F) in the summer for short periods of time. Although it is hot, the humidity is low and nights are generally pleasant. Winters are generally dry and cool, but are mild compared to directly adjacent regions.
Due to lower amount of cloud coverage compared to other regions, the area is popular for astronomers. A number of houses with astronomy domes are visible from the city's residential landscape.
The USDA places Osoyoos in Plant Hardiness Zone 7a.
|Climate data for Osoyoos CS (1981-2010 Climate Normals)|
|Record high °C (°F)||11.7
|Average high °C (°F)||2.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||0.9
|Average low °C (°F)||−3.8
|Record low °C (°F)||−20.8
|Precipitation mm (inches)||27.8
|Source: Environment Canada (1981-2010 Climate Normals),|
Average number of days:
- above 20°C (68°F): 154.8
- above 30°C (86°F): 53.0
- above 35°C (95°F): 17.1
Although the fruit-growing possibilities were noticed by the early settlers, it was not until 1907 when the first commercial orchard in the area was established, growing cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, and apples. Osoyoos Orchard Limited was formed in 1920 and an irrigation project was planned which finally brought water to the west bench via “The Ditch” in 1927. The former shrub-steppe environment was transformed into a lush agricultural belt and Osoyoos promoted “the earliest fruit in Canada.”
Today, the area continues to produce many of these tender fruit crops. Aside from tourism, agriculture is a major component of the local economy, as is evident by the abundant produce stands along Highways 3 and 97, and the numerous commercial orchards surrounding the town. With the growing popularity of viticulture, some of these orchards are being converted to vineyards, as the area is a major wine producing region of Canada. Some of the main wineries in the area are Nk’Mip, La Stella and Osoyoos Larose.
The vast majority of the land in the valley bottom surrounding the town is protected by the Agricultural Land Reserve, which prevents valuable agricultural lands from being converted into other uses.
Tourism in the Osoyoos area has become a large contributor to the local economy. This tourism is brought on by the many amenities in the Osoyoos area.
Osoyoos Lake is "the warmest freshwater lake in Canada" according to the town of Osoyoos and the BC Parks System, with reported average summer water temperatures of 24°C (75°F). The lake is surrounded by kilometres of beaches (public and private), parks and picnic grounds, such as Gyro Beach, Lions Centennial Park, Kinsmen Park, Legion Beach and Haynes Point Provincial Park. There are also major plans to revitalize the waterfront along the town core, spurred on by recent major developments such as the Watermark Beach Resort which include increased public space and an expanded marina.
There are two centres dedicated to the dry landscape of the area. The Osoyoos Desert Centre is located 3 km north of Osoyoos off Highway 97, while the Nk'mip Desert Cultural Centre is located adjacent to the Nk'mip Winery on the Osoyoos Indian Reserve.
The area is served by two golf courses: the Osoyoos Golf and Country Club and the Nk’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course.
Demographics and development
|Sources: Statistics Canada|
The town's popularity among retirees is reflected in the age of the average resident at 58.8 years compared to 40.8 years for the rest of the population of British Columbia. Median household income was $43,764, compared to the $52,709 earned per household on average, province-wide.
The area’s increasing aging population, has sparked the need for increased healthcare services. One proposal (known as the Oasis development) currently before town council includes a 5 storey medical-commercial facility. The development also includes three residential buildings between 6 and 10 stories. Despite the town’s small size, there is an abundance of condominium developments.
||Ice hockey||Osoyoos Sunbowl Arena||
Osoyoos has one city in the sister cities programme.
- "Osoyoos Town Website". Town of Osoyoos. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
- Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and population centres, 2011 and 2006 censuses: British Columbia. Statistics Canada. Retrieved March 17, 2013
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- "Statistics Canada". statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
- Dead statistics link, thanks for omitting the actual title. statcan.gc.ca[dead link]
- McGowan's War, Chapter: The Okanagan Trail, Donald J. Hauka, New Star Books, Vancouver (2000) ISBN 1-55420-001-6
- British Columbia Chronicle, 1847–1871: Gold & Colonists, Helen and G.P.V. Akrigg, Discovery Press, Vancouver (1977) ISBN 0-919624-03-0
- Claiming the Land, Dan Marshall, UBC Ph.D Thesis, 2002 (unpubl.)
- "Detailed history on "Crowsnest Highway" website history page". Crowsnest-highway.ca. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- Wilma, David (2006-01-30). "''Indians ambush gold prospectors in McLoughlin Canyon (Okanogan Valley) on July 29, 1858'', HistoryLink.org Essay 7614". Historylink.org. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- "South Okanagan–Lower Similkameen National Park Reserve Feasibility Study". Pc.gc.ca. 2006-11-17. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- "World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated". Meteorologische Zeitschrift, Vol. 15, No. 3, 259-263 (June 2006). Archived from the original on 2009-03-27. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
- "Daily Data | Canada's National Climate Archive". Climate.weatheroffice.gc.ca. 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- "Interactive Map | USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map". Planthardiness.ars.usda.gov. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- "1981-2010 Canadian Climate Normals". Environment Canada. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
- "Town of Osoyoos". osoyoos.ca. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- "Haynes Point Provincial Park". BC Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- French, Paul (June 24, 2009). "Osoyoos, Canada's lone desert". thestar.com. The Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2012-10-31. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- "CivicWeb: Waterfront Master Plan". Osoyoos.fileprosite.com. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- "Osoyoos Desert Society". desert.org. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- "Nk'mip Desert Cultural Centre". nkmipdesert.com. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- "Osoyoos, Town – British Columbia (Census subdivision)". Statistics Canada. May 10, 2011. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
- "British Columbia – Municipal Census Populations (1921–2011)". BC Stats. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
- "Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision". 2.statcan.gc.ca. 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- "CivicWeb: Public Hearing (Including ADDENDUMS) - 07 Sep 2010 - Pdf". Osoyoos.civicweb.net. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Osoyoos.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Osoyoos.|
- Town of Osoyoos
- Osoyoos Times newspaper
- Osoyoos Commercial Digest
- Climate Normals for Osoyoos
- Destination Osoyoos Destination Osoyoos Development Society, a tourism marketing and tourism services agency.