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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Penticton and its region Wahl, Edward


The Penticton region is part of the Okanagan Valley which is situated in the southern interior of British Columbia. During and after Pleistocene times, soil materials were deposited in the valley in the form of terraces and alluvial fans. The climate being warm and dry stimulated the growth of grasses which not only enriched the soils but provided good grazing for wild animals and, with the coming of the white man, for numerous cattle. But the soil and the climate held more promise, with irrigation they provided ideal conditions for the growing of fruit and it was not long before the cattle industry was replaced by a new economy based on fruit. As transportation facilities increased, the region became more easily accessible from the outside and also permitted a freer flow of its produce to market. New settlers flocked in to take up the lands and put them into orchard. To supply the needs of the expanding region, Penticton grew from a small nucleus on the Okanagan Lake to a thriving town. Secondary industries largely based on fruit sustained the growing population. Because it is now almost exclusively based on fruit, the economy of the region is extremely sensitive to the vagaries of outside market conditions and the need for diversification of industry has become increasingly apparent. The lumber industry shows little promise of future expansion because of the too distant sources of logs; manufacturing which is not based on fruit lacks a ready source of raw materials, cheap power, and is open to competition from more favored areas; the tourist industry shows promise of considerable expansion, but has the disadvantage of coinciding in time with the growing season. There are no extensive mineral deposits close enough at hand to exert a significant effect on the regional economy. As a result, the region will have to depend on expansion of the fruit industry, the finding of new markets, and on a considerable increase in fruit processing. Too, some growth will doubtless result from Penticton's importance as a distributing and commercial centre; trade will be augmented as the populations of the South Okanagan and the various settlements to the east on the Kettle Valley Railroad continue to increase. The problems facing the Penticton region's continued growth are various. There are, however, certain geographic advantages which, if properly used and developed, will go far in providing not only the things considered essential to modern living, but also a legacy, both bountiful and lasting, for the future.

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