Your Guide to Authentic Local Pronunciations
By Nicole Baer — One sure-fire way to stick out as a newbie in town is to mispronounce common place names. So we turned to Bob Hayes, an enthusiastic local history buff with deep roots in the Central Okanagan, for the definitive pronunciation guide. Bob, a retired elementary schoolteacher living in Kelowna, couldn't resist leavening his explanations with a bit of local lore.
Benvoulin: The road is named after an early local town site and the name derives from the Gaelic. Despite the "ou" in the middle, it is pronounced Ben-VOH-lin.
Guisachan: This east-west road running between Ethel Street and Burtch Road is named after an early settler's ranch, which in turn was named after the family's ancestral home in Scotland. It's pronounced GU-shi-gan.
DeHart: F.R.E. (Frank) DeHart, a developer and an early promoter of fruit growing in the Okanagan, eventually served as councillor and mayor of Kelowna. His name was pronounced Dee-HART and his name is on a road into the Lower Mission.
Leathead: This road through Rutland looks like it could rhyme with "meathead", but that would draw derisive snorts from the locals. It's LEATH-ed, and is a misspelling of pioneer family Leithead, which was, however, pronounced the same way.
Boucherie: This West Kelowna road, well known to wine lovers, was named after Isidore Boucherie, one of the earliest pioneers in the area. He arrived around 1862, and moved further west in the 1890s. The name is pronounced in the French fashion — BOO-sheri.
Gellatly: This name, which graces a West Kelowna road, a nut farm, a regional park and numerous other recreational installations, derives from another early Scottish pioneer family. According to Bob, the name is universally mispronounced. For one thing, it's a hard G, as in "get" or "guess". And, while most locals emphasize the middle syllable (Gel-LAT-lee), Bob knew personally a direct descendant of the original family, and thus can state with certainty that the proper pronunciation is GEL-at-lee, a sound quite similar to "gallantly".
Kalamoir: A beach and regional park on the west side, the locals call it Kala-MOR.
Trepanier: This part of Peachland, which also features a regional park, is pronounced in the regular French manner — Treh-PAN-yay. But for Bob, the interesting aspect is that the name derives from trepanning, or trepanation — the rather barbaric practice of drilling a hole into a patient's skull in order to release blood pressure on the brain. While the details have been lost in the mists of time, it is said that a hapless early fur trader in the area was condemned to this gruesome procedure, with unknown results.
Keremeos: This village south of Kelowna is pronounced KEH-re-MEE-us.
Shuswap: North of Kelowna is the town, region and lake of Shuswap, which is often mispronounced through the addition of a "sh" sound in the middle. In fact, it's SHU-swop, like "shoe swap."
Sncewips: Pronounced Sen-SHWEEPS, the Sncewips Heritage Museum in West Kelowna is dedicated to collecting, preserving, restoring, and interpreting art and artifacts that reflect the heritage and natural history of the syilx/Okanagan people. The museum offers guidance on pronouncing words in nsyilxcən, the Okanagan indigenous language.
Newcomers from near and far flock to the Central Okanagan!
When KNC members meet, the first topic of conversation invariably centres on people’s origins. After all, if you’re in our newcomers club, then by definition you’ve arrived here from elsewhere. Kelowna's population is booming and KNC membership numbers reflect that. As of March 2022, we are close to 500 members, making us one of the largest Newcomers Clubs in Canada.
In looking at our membership, it seems people come to Kelowna and the Central Okanagan from near and far. The majority of our members come from Lower Mainland, a significant number are coming from Alberta and of the balance, many come from Ontario and other provinces. That said, we folks who have moved from nearby Peachland, Vernon, Kamloops and Revelstoke.
From much farther afield, we have members from as far away as Panama, Russia, the UK, Switzerland. Quatar, and Hong Kong and several who have joined us from various parts of the U.S.
So many interesting conversations to be had! Make sure you reach out to some new folks at the next KNC event. You may be surprised what you find out and make some new friends.
Fighting Fire with Knowledge
By Marian Morry — Forest ecologist and consultant Robert W. Gray, the featured speaker at our January 2019, meeting, shared fascinating insights into the causes and impacts of wildfires.
During the talk, we learned that the City of Kelowna has a wildfire protection plan. The 2016 document, which you can find here, is a daunting 133 pages in length. However, it does contain an executive summary and a set of tables that provide a user-friendly overview of the plan. We also learned that the province of B.C. has prepared a fire-smart manual, aimed at helping homeowners better protect their homes. A self-assessment tool on pages 9-10 lets you figure out whether your home is at high or low risk for fire damage. You can find The Homeowners FireSmart Manual here.