The North End area neighbourhood is filled with little gems. This is where war built veteran’s houses following four basic design templates were constructed between 1945 and 1955. The bungalows were built with craftsmanship. Even the heavy duty framing wood surprises those who are doing renovations.
What the houses most present is a connection with the past. The area beyond the “railway tracks” is stereotypically the kind of neighbourhood all literature talks about when it mentions beyond the railway tracks. The immigrants who lived down here were not rich, powerful or high profile. All that they did in the Kelowna of the 40’s and 50’s was fight to protect the freedoms of democratic nations, come home and create families, go to work at the packing plant or the mills and provide the hard work and hands on labor that is needed to keep a society going.
Our home was built with such pride and attention that the roof rafters are signed and dated. There was a sense of ownership and workmanship even among those who constructed the homes.
Once a man and his wife sat out in front of our home in their car. I went out to ask if they needed help thinking they may be looking for a neighbour’s quality repair business. They informed me that they had raised their family in my house. Four sons and two adults lived in the 1,200 square feet which was heated by wood, later coal and then had an oil barrel constructed for “modern” fuel.
They were back because the house was homey and comforting. These structures are beautifully built and charming. They are an integral part of the history of Canada and of the city of Kelowna.
I have a vision for the North End called “Knox Mountain Village.” Because the core of the cultural area is moving closer and closer to our end of town, the “Knox Mountain Village” could be a major tourist attraction. It is only 15 to 20 minutes to walk to the Rotary Centre, Prospera Place and to restaurants and cultural events along Ellis.
Now that people are parking ever closer to our neighbourhood in order to see hockey games or events at Prospera , it is becoming obvious to the public that the area under Knox Mountain is within easy walking distance.
How much better it would be to have this area a designated heritage area where the history of those hard working individuals who helped build Kelowna is preserved. Let us move forward on the heritage plan that was suggested in the 1990’s before we destroy the bungalows of history.
As the centre of Kelowna moves closer and closer to the Knox Mountain area, the likelihood of building structures that do not have the look and feel of the area increases. The time to move forward and make a plan for preserving the city’s history is now. The time to plan an experience of the culture of the arts and the culture of Kelowna’s urban history is now. Let us think how to both protect the “Knox Mountain Village” and help it become a tourist attraction.
Living in the North End and loving it