Our Story

The stories and people behind the Okanagan Military Museum

From Vision to Reality


A dedicated group of veterans and volunteers created the Okanagan Military Museum Society (OMMS) in 1987 with a goal to collect, preserve and exhibit militaria related to local contributions to Canada’s military history.


Volunteers developed the artifact collections and hosted temporary exhibitions at local shopping malls.


The Kelowna Museums Society hosted a major exhibition for the OMMS, which provided the group with advice, services and encouragement.


The OMMS started a campaign to raise enough funds for a purpose-built museum. When targets weren’t met, they reached out to the City. 


Kelowna City Council agreed to lease the OMMS space inside the Kelowna Memorial Arena annex for galleries, offices, storage and a library and archive.

Nov 11, 1999

Dignitaries cut the ribbon on opening day.
L to R: Former OMMS President Robert Hadgraft with Mayor Walter Gray and a BCD soldier.

Local branches of the founding sponsors contributed money and time to fundraise and gain community support.


The OMMS added an interpretive mural to the arena to promote the museum.


City Council gave permission to convert the Memorial Arena lobby into ground-level galleries. Naval veteran Harvey Larsen is seen here branding the space with signage and paint.


Legacy funds from the 2004 Memorial Cup hockey tournament were presented by Paul Mitchell QC to help pay for the new galleries.


The Kelowna Museums Society and the OMMS signed an operational merger in 2006. The agreement is still in place and supports all aspects of operation.

L to R: Wayne Wilson – Executive Director KMS; Jim Grant – President KMS; Barry Clark – City Councillor, Bob Hadgraft – OMMS President, Ed Dickins – OMM Operations Manager.


The veterans are fewer now, but their vision is a reality for the 4,000+ visitors and students that enjoy the museum every year.

Did you know?

In its 20 years of operation, the Okanagan Military Museum has collected over 20,000 objects, including artifacts, photographs, books and archival documents. Veterans or their families donated many of the objects. In addition, we are honoured to hold in trust collections belonging to the British Columbia Dragoon Whizzbang Association.

Thank you!

Kelowna Museums and the OMMS would like to recognize the following individuals for their role in developing the museum:  

Don Appleton; Don Mann; Ed Dickins; Stan Chatham; Robert Hadgraft;  Les Perkins; Harvey Larsen; Hans Einer; Len Dykes; Gord Ockenden; Jack Dangerfield; Frank Jefferies; Richard Gunoff; Frank Moore; Eric and Eli Moos; Pat Carew; Ray Dziver; Vince Bezeau; Paul Seguna; Doris Roesler; Syd Pratt; Frank Truman; Barry Clark; Bill Rutter; Jack Strong; Jack Cardiff; Ross MacArthur; Art Hine; Tom Wolf; Rob McKeller; Herb Sullivan; Walter Viita; Frank Gleason; Howard Hisdal; Keith and Teresa Boehmer.

Make History

Or at least help preserve it. Join the Kelowna Museums Society and keep history alive through exhibitions, programming, collections, conservation, and research. Our vision is to inspire a community to be alive with its history – connecting people and place.

During WWI and WWII, women took over the work of the men, while maintaining their traditional roles at home. They ran Kelowna’s fire brigade, forming the ‘Ladies Hose Reel Team.’