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According to data from the Rutland Centennial Committee, Kelowna has been a major route for livestock drivers and farmers since the 1840s. However, the Rutland community didn’t begin hosting commercial apple orchards until the early 1890s and wasn’t able to do so successfully till the 1920s.
John Mathew “Hope” Rutland first settled in the community with his wife Edith, in 1902, after falling in love with Canada on their honeymoon trip abroad.
Growing up in Australia on his parents farm, he developed a love for orcharding early on in his life.
According to Down Memory Lane: Rutland, upon their arrival from Australia, John and his wife acquired a 960 acre estate. The property spanned a major part of what Rutland is today, with the west boundary extending just past Rutland Rd, and the South East boundary ending at the corner of the former William Gay Property.
John quickly began establishing some of the first commercial orchards in the region and it is widely circulated that he was responsible for installing the first large irrigation system in the region.
This irrigation system, made up of large flumes, ditches and intakes, is still an integral part of the Black Mountain Irrigation system to this day.
Its development is also said to have made way for future farmers to open subsequent orchards in the Rutland region, bringing with them economic prosperity and population growth.
For this reason, Rutland is often referred to as the founder of the community.
In 1905, John sold off a majority of his property to Okanagan Fruit and Lands Company, a Kelowna syndicate, of which D.W. Sutherland was one of the principals.
Though the family lived there for much less than a decade, the area that Rutland’s estate had spanned was later named after him by the Postmaster General of Ottawa, when the people of the community asked for a post office in 1908.
Currently, the property that was owned by John and Edith houses Rutland Middle School, and parts of the Downtown Rutland area, representing important aspects of the community.