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Town of Osoyoos[1]
Town of Osoyoos
Town of Osoyoos
Motto: Canada's warmest welcome[2]
Osoyoos is located in British Columbia
Location of Osoyoos in British Columbia
Country  Canada
Province  British Columbia
Region South Okanagan/Boundary
Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen
Incorporated January 14, 1946
 • Mayor Sue McKortoff
 • Governing Body Osoyoos Town Council
 • MP Richard Cannings (2015)
 • MLA Linda Larson
 • Town 8.76 km2 (3.38 sq mi)
Elevation 283 m (928 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Town 4,845
 • Density 553.1/km2 (1,433/sq mi)
 • Urban 4,855[3]
Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Postal code span V0H
Area code(s) +1-250
Website .ca.osoyooswww

Osoyoos ( ,[2] historically )[4] 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.[4] The origin of the name Osoyoos was the word sẁiẁs (pronounced "soo-yoos") 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[5] swells in the summer months with visitors from elsewhere in British Columbia and neighboring Alberta, as well as elsewhere in Canada. Also, a newer contingent of international visitors is supported by proximity to the Kelowna and Penticton Airports. A growing year-round retiree population is evidenced by the predominance in the population of people over 50 years old[6] and with the recent boom of condominium and suburban development (though somewhat thwarted by the 2008–09 economic downturn). Another 1,892 people surround the town within the "Okanagan-Similkameen A" area.[6]


  • History 1
  • Location, geography and ecology 2
  • Climate 3
  • Agriculture 4
  • Tourism 5
  • Demographics and development 6
  • Sports 7
  • Notable residents 8
  • Sister cities 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


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.[7] [8][9] The Dewdney Trail passed through Osoyoos on its way from Hope to the Kootenays.[10] 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 as the tax collector.[11][12] 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[10] and became a town in the 1980s. The railway was discontinued, and its stationhouse and grounds now serve as the Osoyoos Sailing Club.[10]

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 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, a feasibility study by Parks Canada has been going on 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.[13]


The climate, according to the Köppen climate classification, is semiarid (BSk)[14] with summers that are generally hot and dry. September and October are usually dry and sunny with cool mornings. Winters are short, mild, and usually dry, but can be cold for brief periods during Arctic outflow conditions bringing sporadic snowfall. Spring arrives earlier than other parts of the Okanagan. Osoyoos averages 7 months at or above 10°C. By Canadian inland standars, it is extremely mild, being affected by the marine airflows of the Pacific – something areas east of the Rockies aren't.

During the summer, the southern Okanagan Valley is on average one of the hottest areas in Canada during the day. Temperatures exceed 35°C (95°F) on average 17 days per summer, sometimes topping 38°C (100°F).[15] Although days are hot, the humidity is low and nights cool adequately. Daytime temperatures are the hottest in Canada as Osoyoos has the highest average annual daily maximum temperature in Canada [17.0 °C (62.6 °F) as per table below]. However, the summer mean normal is narrowly beaten by Windsor in Ontario where July averages 23 °C (73 °F) in comparison to Osoyoos with 22.9 °C (73.2 °F).[16]

The USDA places Osoyoos in Plant Hardiness Zone 7a.[17]

Climate data for Osoyoos
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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
Average precipitation mm (inches) 28.8
Average rainfall mm (inches) 14.3
Average snowfall cm (inches) 14.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 12.0 9.2 9.9 9.7 10.4 10.2 6.7 5.5 5.2 7.8 12.2 12.3 111.1
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 6.0 6.9 9.2 9.6 10.4 10.2 6.7 5.5 5.2 7.7 10.2 5.6 93.4
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 6.7 2.7 1.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 2.7 7.6 20.9
Source: [18]

Average number of days:[15]

  • above 20°C (68°F): 154.8
  • above 30°C (86°F): 53.0
  • above 35°C (95°F): 17.1


Osoyoos fruit trees in April

Although the fruit-growing possibilities were noticed by early settlers, the first commercial orchard in the area was not established until 1907, growing cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, and apples.[2] 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.[2] 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 tree fruits. 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. After clearing of mainly sagebrush, parcels of bench land have been replanted for viticulture.

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.


Looking over Osoyoos Lake

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[2] and the BC Parks System,[19] with reported average summer water temperatures of 24°C (75°F).[20] 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 Sẁiẁs Provincial Park. There are also major plans to revitalize the waterfront along the town core,[21] spurred on by recent major developments such as the Watermark Beach Resort which include increased public space and an expanded marina.

Spotted Lake is a saline endorheic alkali lake located northwest of Osoyoos.

There are two centres dedicated to preserving the ecosystem of the Okanagan Desert. The Osoyoos Desert Centre is located 3 km north of Osoyoos off Highway 97,[22] while the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre is located adjacent to the Nk'mip Winery on the Osoyoos Indian Reserve.[23]

The area is served by three 18-hole golf courses - Osoyoos Golf and Country Club, Fairview Mountain Golf Club (Oliver) and the Nk’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course (Oliver) - and one nine-hole course, Sonora Dunes (Osoyoos).

Demographics and development

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.[26]

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 five-storey medical-commercial facility.[27] The development also includes three residential buildings between 6 and 10 stories. Despite the town’s small size, an abundance of condominium developments exists.


Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Osoyoos Coyotes
Ice hockey Osoyoos Sunbowl Arena
1 (2011)

Notable residents

Sister cities

Osoyoos has one city in the sister cities program.


  1. ^ "British Columbia Regional Districts, Municipalities, Corporate Name, Date of Incorporation and Postal Address" ( 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Osoyoos Town Website". Town of Osoyoos. Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  3. ^ Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and population centres, 2,011 and 2,006 censuses: British Columbia. Statistics Canada. Retrieved March 17, 2,013
  4. ^ a b "Osoyoos".  
  5. ^ "Statistics Canada". Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  6. ^ a b "Census profile 2011, Okanagan-Similkameen A Region". Statistics Canada, Government of Canada. 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  7. ^ McGowan's War, Chapter: The Okanagan Trail, Donald J. Hauka, New Star Books, Vancouver (2000) ISBN 1-55420-001-6
  8. ^ British Columbia Chronicle, 1847–1871: Gold & Colonists, Helen and G.P.V. Akrigg, Discovery Press, Vancouver (1977) ISBN 0-919624-03-0
  9. ^ Claiming the Land, Dan Marshall, UBC Ph.D Thesis, 2002 (unpubl.)
  10. ^ a b c "Some Osoyoos history". Osoyoos Soroptimists. 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Detailed history on "Crowsnest Highway" website history page". Retrieved 2011-07-28. 
  12. ^ Wilma, David (2006-01-30). 'Indians ambush gold prospectors in McLoughlin Canyon (Okanogan Valley) on July 29, 1858'', Essay 7614"'". Retrieved 2011-07-28. 
  13. ^ "South Okanagan–Lower Similkameen National Park Reserve Feasibility Study". 2006-11-17. Retrieved 2011-07-28. 
  14. ^ "World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated" (PDF). Meteorologische Zeitschrift, Vol. 15, No. 3, 259-263 (June 2006). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-27. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Daily Data | Canada's National Climate Archive". 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2011-07-28. 
  16. ^ "Osoyoos Climate Normals". Environment Canada. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  17. ^ "Interactive Map | USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map". Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  18. ^ "Calculation Information for 1981 to 2010 Canadian Normals Data". Environment Canada. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Sẁiẁs Provincial Park". BC Parks. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  20. ^ French, Paul (June 24, 2009). "Osoyoos, Canada's lone desert". The Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2012-10-31. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  21. ^ "CivicWeb: Waterfront Master Plan". Retrieved 2011-07-28. 
  22. ^ "Osoyoos Desert Society". Retrieved 2011-07-28. 
  23. ^ "Nk'mip Desert Cultural Centre". Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  24. ^ "Osoyoos, Town – British Columbia (Census subdivision)".  
  25. ^ "British Columbia – Municipal Census Populations (1921–2011)". BC Stats. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision". 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2011-07-28. 
  27. ^ "CivicWeb: Public Hearing (Including ADDENDUMS) - 07 Sep 2010 - Pdf". Retrieved 2011-07-28. 

External links

  • Town of Osoyoos
  • newspaperOsoyoos Times
  • Climate Normals for search term, "Osoyoos"
  • Destination Osoyoos Destination Osoyoos Development Society, a tourism marketing and services agency

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