Kelowna's first museum curator and author Ursula Surtees passed away Saturday at age 94

Kelowna icon passes

The City of Kelowna has lost one of its cultural pioneers.

Ursula Surtees, the first curator of the Kelowna Centennial Museum and champion for cultural diversity, passed away peacefully Saturday.

She was 94.

Mayor Colin Basran remembered Surtees at the conclusion of Monday's city council meeting as a cultural pioneer.

Surtees, her husband John and young daughter Pat located to the Okanagan in the 1940's from the United Kingdom following World War II, and eventually became involved with the local museum.

"She was the first curator of the Kelowna Centennial museum in 1969, and became a force in the community and on the provincial and national stage. She was an author, designed hands-on school programs now modeled across the country, developed summer art programs and created a provincial museum from an old packing house,"said Basran.

"Ursula successfully championed the restoration of the city's first designated heritage building, the Laurel Packinghouse. That building now houses the BC Orchard Industry Museum and the BC Wine Museum, and is a showcase of Kelowna' s cultural district."

Over the years, Surtees was honoured with the BC and Canadian museum societies Order of Merit, the BC Museum Society Golden Service award, City of Kelowna's Citizen of the Year, Queen's Jubilee Medal, Confederation Medal and BCMA lifetime membership.

"She was an uncompromising champion of respect for the cultural diversity we hold dear as Canadians."

Surtees is survived by daughters Pat and Frances and son Alan, as well as numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren plus numerous other nieces and nephews abroad.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to the Ursula Surtees Endowment Fund with the Central Okanagan Foundation at 306-1726 Dolphin Avenue, Kelowna BC V1Y 9R9 or at www.centralokanaganfoundation.org. Interest from this Fund helps support the Kelowna Museums Society’s work across the region.

More Kelowna News