Like much of British Columbia and other parts of Canada, the Central Okanagan has a rich history that features First Nations hunter-gatherers, fur traders from the Old World, missionaries and seekers of gold. European settlement in the 1800s laid the foundation for trade and agriculture. As the early crops of tobacco gave way to fruit orchards, Kelowna was incorporated as a city in 1905.
The wood-burning vessel S.S. Aberdeen, launched by the CPR in May 1893, was the first sternwheel steamer on Okanagan Lake. In the 20th century, cars and passengers were ferried between Kelowna and West Bank by the Pendozi, Lequime (later renamed Fintry Queen) and Lloyd Jones.
In 1958, the original Okanagan Lake Floating Bridge was opened as the first of its kind in Canada, and one of just a few floating bridges on the continent.
Fifty years later, with the capacity of the original three-lane bridge stretched beyond its limits, the new floating bridge, named after Kelowna-born former premier William R. Bennett, was opened. Featuring five lanes, it is expected to provide sufficient capacity well beyond 2030.