Built in 1904 and located at 229-233 Bernard Avenue, this historic place is valued for its association with Eli Lequime and his family, as newcomers from France. The building is representative of the period of rapid growth in the original town site at the time of municipal incorporation in 1905. Lequime’s Store was Kelowna’s first dressed-stone building and is its oldest surviving commercial building. Its different uses over time reflected the growing and changing Kelowna community.
The building’s value also resides in part in its having been commissioned by Bernard and Leon Lequime, developers of the Kelowna town site (hence the names Bernard and Leon Avenues) and the sons of renowned settler Eli Lequime. The elder Lequime arrived at Okanagan Mission in 1861. He started a store on his ranch there, and operated the first blacksmith shop, post office, and hotel-saloon. Sons Bernard and Leon laid out the town site of Kelowna on the lakefront in 1892, after the CPR established steamer service on Okanagan Lake, connecting with the railway at Okanagan Landing near Vernon. As developers of the town site, the Lequimes built their general store in the prime location, directly opposite the steamer landing.
Lequime’s Store initiated the second phase of Kelowna’s growth. The Lequime brothers moved their original wood-frame store one lot east and in its place erected this, the first stone building in Kelowna, with squared stone-quarried on Knox Mountain. This second stage of downtown building saw stone and brick structures filling the entire street frontage, replacing the earlier detached, wooden 1890s-era buildings.