Summerland, BC, incorporated as a district municipality in 1906, population 11 280 (2011c), 10 828 (2006c). The District of Summerland is located on the west bank of OKANAGAN LAKE in the southern interior of British Columbia between KELOWNA and PENTICTON. The area was originally inhabited by the Okanagan of the Interior SALISH and became grazing land for them and non-natives in the 1880s. Fruit orchards, particularly for peaches, cherries, apples and pears, began in the 1890s. Sir Thomas SHAUGHNESSY purchased the area's existing cattle ranches and created the Summerland Development Company. With his manager, John M. Robinson, the community was established. Robinson named the townsite Summerland, primarily to attract people from the Prairies. The original townsite was a harbour for steamboats on the lake but by 1920 "West Summerland," away from the lake, had became the town centre. The federal government established in 1914 the Summerland RESEARCH STATION, serving the tree fruit and grape industries.
The Kettle Valley Railway opened a station in the community in 1915, with passenger service ending in 1964 and freight service in 1989, with the demise of the railway. Complete removal of the tracks took place except for a portion in Summerland. Today, as a tourist attraction, an original fully operational 1912 steam locomotive with coaches provides tourists with a scenic view of the community's fruit orchards and vineyards.
Since the early 1960s the population of Summerland has doubled with many of the orchards being subdivided; however, the adoption of the provincial Agriculture Land Reserve Act (now Agricultural Land Commission Act) protects a certain amount of orchard land from development. Today close to 40% of the population are retirees.
The community is noted for the redevelopment of the town centre in Olde English Tudor style and the Ornamental Gardens (established 1916). The economy is based on agriculture, tourism, fruit packing and wineries.