Okanagan Military Museum

By David Suatac

When the British Empire went to war in August 1914, the small Okanagan valley town of Kelowna was called to action. Men rushed to join the Army. By September, city council learned that 177 local men had enlisted out of a total population of 2,200. These men enlisted with the 30th Regiment, British Colombia Horse – a local cavalry regiment – and then with the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles when the cavalry regiment was transformed in 1916.  Many of them fought at Vimy under the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade. Kelowna also contributed much on the home front. Donations were made to the Canadian Red Cross, and a local branch of the Canadian Patriotic Fund established. Veterans returning home in 1918 organized a branch of the Great War Veteran’s Association, a forerunner of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Kelowna once again answered the call to arms in September 1939. The 2nd Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, known at the time as the 9th Armoured Regiment (British Colombia Dragoons), fought under the 5th Canadian Armoured Division in Italy. The regiment also participated in the liberation of the Netherlands. A cenotaph in downtown Kelowna honours the local men who died in both wars. A nearby walkway is dedicated to one of Kelowna’s sister cities, Veendam, Holland, liberated by Kelowna soldiers in 1944.

The Okanagan Military Museum, part of the Kelowna Museums Society, houses the Vince Bezeau Military Library and Archives in addition to special exhibits on military history.

Construction of the Kelowna Museum.

Credit: Kelowna Museums Society/ 


1. Description of cenotaph on city website.

2. James H. Hayes “Kelowna in World War One.” Okanagan Historical Society volume 61, 1997. 

3. Kelowna Museums Society website

4. DND publication on The British Colombia Dragoons.  

Featured Image: Credit: Kelowna Museums Society/

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