A PROSPEROUS COMMUNITY According to the 1909 provincial assessment records, Summerland was the most prosperous Okanagan community. This section of Shaughnessy Avenue is now Lakeshore Drive. The last building in the row is the Summerland Hotel, promptly built following the founding of Summerland in 1902. The location of the hotel is now the vacant lot across the street from the present day trout hatchery. Next in the row of buildings is Empire Hall with the Summerland Supply Company using the lower floor. Next is the Lakeshore Telephone Office (prior to expansion) and the post office, followed by George McWilliams’s real estate office. (Photograph courtesy of the Summerland Museum)

Summerland was once most prosperous community in the Okanagan Valley

Fires in 1920s destroyed Lowertown businesses

Summerland founder Sir Thomas Shaughnessy and his wealthy business partners were responsible for much of Summerland’s early prosperity.

By 1909, provincial assessments in Summerland were the highest in the Okanagan Valley.

Summerland’s assessment was $1,060,000 followed by Coldstream ($934,618), Penticton ($845,955), Kelowna ($840,660) and Peachland ($305,200.)

Shaughnessy Avenue, now Lakeshore Drive, was the commercial hub of the community at the time.

The last building in the row is the Summerland Hotel, promptly built following the founding of Summerland in 1902. The location of the hotel is now the vacant lot across the street from the present day trout hatchery. Next in the row of buildings is Empire Hall with the Summerland Supply Company using the lower floor. Next is the Lakeshore Telephone Office (prior to expansion) and the post office, followed by George McWilliams’s real estate office.

READ ALSO: Summerland heritage buildings still standing today

READ ALSO: Road between Penticton and Summerland was built in 1909

A few years later, a fire changed the face of the community.

The fire, on March 13, 1922, started from a from a small stove in the basement of Simpson and Gowan’s store and quickly spread through the downtown.

Fire equipment was minimal and as a result, damage was extensive.

The total loss was $70,000 to $80,000.

Several businesses were heavily damaged as a result.

The Summerland Review lost between $17,000 and $20,000 worth of equipment.

Simpson and Gowan’s store lost stock worth $25,000 and a building worth about $5,000.

The W.J. Robinson residence, worth $10,000, was destroyed, as was the Empire Hall building, worth $500.

Stark’s store, in the Empire Building, was also destroyed. It had a value of $1,000.

The Summerland Hotel, across from what is now the fish hatchery, was built in 1902 by the Summerland Development Company. It was destroyed by a fire around midnight on Nov. 14, 1925.

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