B.C. Fruit Trees Ltd.

Place Description

The historic place is the B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd. building at 1473 Water Street, built in 1946 in the Moderne style, and located at the southeast corner of Water Street and Queensway in Kelowna's Downtown area.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd. structure rests in the building's striking Modernist design, and in it having accommodated the corporate offices of the principal fruit-marketing organization in the Okanagan from 1946 to the present day, as well as officers of other fruit growers' associations, which date back as far as 1889.

The building has value for its close association with the Okanagan tree-fruit industry. It was constructed in 1946 as new premises for B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd., which had outgrown its space in the Mill Avenue Building across the street at 1470 Water Street. Wartime rationing of sugar and limitations on candy manufacture during the War had led to high prices for fruit and prosperity for fruit growers. (The 1940s are often referred to as the 'Golden Age' of the Okanagan fruit industry.) Restrictions on building were relaxed after the War, and this larger building was erected, reflecting the prosperity of the industry.

B.C. Tree Fruits was created as a central selling agency for all interior-grown tree fruit, after more than 90 per cent of growers voted in favour in the spring of 1939. The body brought an end to the problems of uncontrolled competitive undercutting which had troubled fruit growers and shippers since the 1920s. The one-desk selling monopoly continued until 1974; since that year B.C. Tree Fruits has continued to be the largest fruit selling organization in the Okanagan Valley.

The building has also housed the B.C. Fruit Board, a provincial body regulating fruit marketing, and, in more recent years, the offices (upstairs) of the British Columbia Fruit Growers' Association, which has represented British Columbia's fruit growers since 1889.

The building also has value as a very good example of the Moderne (or Modernist) style. Features include the balance of proto-modern plain surfaces with hard-edged linear detailing that developed out of the Art Deco style. It was built by the Dominion Construction Company, an important and long-standing Vancouver firm. This and the B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd. building across the street at 1470 Water Street provide a northern gateway into Kelowna's downtown area, and a partial heritage context for the Kelowna City Hall located across Queensway.

Character Defining Elements

- Moderne architectural style, seen in features such as the horizontal bands and stylized ornament
- Long, low massing emphasized by continuous banding that incorporates the windows
- Decorative contrast in banding continues to the window mullions, further emphasizing the horizontal character
- Recessed entrance emphasized by projecting side piers and protective, curved sign canopy
- Sign over entrance with 'B.C. Tree Fruits Limited' recessed within a stylized leaf
- Cornice is subtractive rather than additive, defined by recessed, upstanding dentils
- Fence-protected landscape is a softening contrast along Water Street