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Laurel gets an overhaul

Donations ofmoney, artifacts andmemories welcome as renovations continue for province’s oldest packinghouse. By Judie Steeves


s the historic Laurel Packinghouse in Kelowna is being gutted and restored, your stories of the building’s past are being gathered by the Okanagan Heritage Museum, which operates it. “The packinghouse was part of people’s personal and family history. It was where Mom earned the money to help clothe her kids,” commented Wayne Wilson, executive director of the OHM.

It was also where the season’s fruit was trucked for packing and shipping by orchardists from all over the valley. The Laurel is a nationally- designated heritage landmark, the oldest and largest standing packinghouse in the province. It operated from 1917 until the early 1970s.

The Laurel was scheduled for demolition in 1982, but was saved through the efforts of the Kelowna Museums Society, and became the

20 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2010

city’s first designated heritage building.

It was built with bricks from the nearby Knox Mountain brick works. It houses the B.C. Orchard Industry Museum as well as the B.C. Wine Museum and VQA Wine Shop and represents the history of both the orchard and wine industries of this province.

The Laurel is an example of the valley’s industrial heritage and a

gathering place for such memorabilia as packing box labels and many other artifacts of earlier times in the industry.

If you have an item rusting away in the corner of a building or tucked away in your home from the earlier days of the orchard or grape and wine industries, consider donating it to the museum so others can get a feel for what life was like for industry pioneers.

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