Summerland originated on the shores of Okanagan Lake. Thomas John “T.J.” Smith paid for and built the wharf that bore his name.
In 1910, Summerland’s first cannery was located on the wharf. From 1904 to 1926, the T.J. Smith wharf was Summerland’s economic link to other Okanagan communities.
In the 1920s and earlier, Summerland’s downtown was along the shore of Okanagan Lake. However, a fire on March 13, 1922 destroyed many businesses in the area.
At this time, travel in the Okanagan Valley was done by boat, with sternwheelers plying the lake from the late 1800s until the mid 1930s. The last sternwheeler, the S.S. Sicamous, was taken out of service in 1935. It has been restored and is now on display on the shore of Okanagan Lake in Penticton.
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