Historic artifacts have been found in the area now known as Summerland.
The Okanagan community was once known as Nicola Prairie. The term was used from 1826 to 1860. This term was used to describe someone’s property, in this case, that of Grand Chief Nicola. One reason this area was chosen was because of the excellent protection provided by the silt cliffs.
Lake access to the flat land was limited to just a few trails. Three access trails have evidence of battle sites. The most famous was the Battle of Aqskepkina.
Numerous burial sites, arrowheads, some jade jewelry and one green copper knife have been found.
In 1845, Chief Nicola was protected by 80 bodyguards. In 1902, when Summerland was founded, only three Indigenous families remained: the Johnny Pierre, Antoine Pierre and William Manuel families. The children of these three families attended Summerland’s first official school in 1904.
The downtown core of Summerland was originally Penticton Indian Reserve #3.
A cattle ranch and farm there were operated by the Pierre families. The Antoine Pierre family home was located close to today’s museum. The Johnny Pierre home was located near present-day Washington Avenue.
In 1886, Johnny Pierre settled what is now downtown Summerland and used water from Eneas Creek to irrigate crops of hay and potatoes. In the 1890s, both families lived at the George Barclay home on Victoria Road. Later, Antoine Pierre assisted with the development of the Dominion Experimental Farm.
In 1904, the Penticton Indian Reserve #3 was exchanged for land adjacent to Penticton Indian Reserve #1. The Penticton Indian Reserve #3 became West Summerland, or what is today known as the downtown core of Summerland.
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