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Oliver, British Columbia (Canada)

Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District

Last modified: 2011-09-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: british columbia | oliver |
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[Oliver, British Columbia] image by Blas Delgado

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Description of the flag

From the municipal website:
"Aboriginal peoples occupied the territory in which Oliver lies when settlement by Europeans began in the 19th century. Osoyoos  Indian Reserve No. 1 stretches from Gallagher Lake area to Osoyoos and adjoins the Town's eastern boundary. The Inkameep Indians, sometimes called the Osoyoos Band, migrated here and settled on the east side of Osoyoos Lake. The tribe's name comes from a phrase which means "the base of bottom" - attesting to their residence on low lands and plateaus.

The first European activity in the area was gold mining, with the staking of the first claim in 1887, and the establishment of the Town of Fairview in 1890 on the benches above Oliver to the west. Folklore has it that a one armed gold prospector named Reid discovered gold in this area, and the Town of Fairview (located just outside what is now known as Oliver) became home to gold miners, ranchers and businessmen. Fairview was one of B.C.ís largest towns at the turn of the century. The gold rush died and sadly, so did Fairview, with Oliver springing up in its wake. Fairview's life was short; the post office was closed in 1926. One of the few remaining buildings from the town, the Fairview Jail, has been moved to the Oliver museum site.

Following the First World War, BCís premier, known as "Honest" John Oliver, envisioned an irrigation canal, which would bring this dry Sonora Desert region to life. The South Okanagan Lands Project was born, creating jobs and long term opportunities for veterans returning from World War I. The original townsite of Oliver was surveyed in 1921. Completed in 1923, the concrete irrigation canal (locally known as "the ditch") soon transformed this desert region into lush orchards and farms.

Oliver, along with Osoyoos to the south, experienced rapid growth after the Second World War, with an influx of agricultural settlers, including many of Portuguese and German origin. Home to 11 local wineries and many vineyards, Oliver now calls itself "The Capital of Wine Country". The Festival of the Grape is fast becoming a Ďmust attendí during the Okanaganís Fall Wine Festival."

The municipal website presents the flag as follows:
"The field is blue. Across the horizontal centre line is a wavy band of gold. In the centre, on the band is a large gold circle and on it a smaller blue circle. In the centre of the blue circle is a sixteen rayed sun. The flag blends the imagery of the water with the sun and the central "O" for Oliver."

More detailed explanations are given in the grant of arms, supporters, flag and badge of Oliver, issued on 20 April 1995 (The Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada, Vol. III, p. 6):

The flag is blazoned as: "Azure a bar wavy Or over all a bezant charged with a hurt thereon a sun in splendour Or". Its explanation has to be found in the arms, which "include" it in their central part.

The coat of arms is described as follows:
"Arms Vert on a fess nowy between in chief two apples each enclosed within a horseshoe ends upward and in base an apple surmounting a miner's pick and a branding iron in saltire all Or a bar wavy nowy Azure charged with a sun in splendour Or;

Issuant from a mural coronet Or charged with a frieze of grape leaves Vert the head of a Salish woman Proper wearing a coronet Or heightened with two eagles wings per bend Or and Gules;

On a field Or set with sagebrush plants (Artemisia tridentata) Proper rising above barry wavy Azure and Argent dexter a California bighorn ram Or attired and unguled Vert gorged with a collar of Okanagan tartan proper sinister a mare Or maned and unguled Vert gorged with a like collar;


The following explanation of the coat of arms is given:

The central facets of these arms recall the geography and history of the Town of Oliver. The green represents the land as it was brought to life by the waters of the South Okanagan Irrigation Project. The wavy band of blue symbolizes the channel running through the dry lands. The sun is another essential ingredient for growth and is a major element in Oliverís quality of life. The apple with the horseshoe motif recalls one of the townís earlier emblems, honouring the first orchards and the horsepower that played a pivotal role in early agriculture and transportation. The minerís pick recalls the mining activities in the nearby hills that immediately preceded establishment of the present town site. The branding iron recalls the economic importance of cattle ranching in the townís history.

The mural coronet establishes that these arms belong to a municipality. The frieze of grape leaves refers to the newest agricultural product in the region. The head of the Salish woman serves as a reminder that the valley in which the Town of Oliver is located was the homeland of the Salish Nation. The eagle wings are taken from a key element in the McIntyre coat of arms and thus honour Peter McIntyre, the namesake for the McIntyre Bluff and Oliverís first orchardist.

The California big horn sheep symbolizes Oliverís natural setting, and the mare is a reference to the importance of the early pioneers. The sheep and mare wear collars consisting of the Okanagan tartan. The tartan draws on the domestic arts and the ingenuity of citizens as they shape their community. The field and sage plants upon which the supporters stand are a reference to the local fields as they would have been before irrigation. The wavy bands of blue and white represent the waters of the irrigation project.

This salutes Oliverís beginnings and one of its greatest attractions, the sunny climate."

Ivan Sache, 2 August 2010