Places to paddle in the Shuswap

Adams Lake

The tide is beginning to turn. Shuswap’s reputation as a mecca for high-speed, motorized aquatic recreation is slowly evolving into a destination for low-impact, sustainable, environmentally friendly, healthy paddling. The Shuswap Trail Alliance wants to encourage this transition by promoting what will be called “Blueways.” They hope to work with their partners to create a Blueways guidebook that will complement its popular trail guide and mesh with Secwepemc traditional values.
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Fostering a Secwepemc sense of place

Lower Adams Lake – Cstélen

Words are not enough to do justice to this story. You need to be there and not just once, but regularly so that it becomes a tradition for you. As Secwepemc educator and historian Robert Mathew described, that is what is needed to foster a sense of place, which is the goal of the place name project he and many others have been working on for the past 20 years. Continue reading

What will be the jobs of the future?

Will there be fishing jobs like this work during the Adams River salmon run in 2010?

There is a project underway to better understand the local labour market with the goal to bolster employment opportunities in the future. An initiative of Community Futures in cooperation with local First Nation Bands, the Shuswap Labour Market Assessment and Action Plan begins with an Environmental Scan report that uses existing data to provide an analysis of the current employment conditions and future demand.

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North Shuswap home to northernmost winery

 Celista Estate Winery vineyard

The North Shuswap is home to the northernmost winery in North America thanks in part to its ideal microclimate and global warming. A visit to the Celista Estate Winery can be mesmerizing, as the scenic view of the vineyard with the lake in the background is stunning, the mellow atmosphere and beautiful landscaping is relaxing and the wine is tasty. If you take the tour, you will be captivated by owner Jake Ootes’s story of how he and his wife moved here from Yellowknife to retire on 160 acres of paradise and inadvertently started a winery. Continue reading

The Everything Shuswap Backstory

Sometimes it takes the prying questions of a reporter to help understand better one’s own motivations for taking on an enormous task. When a CBC producer asked why I decided to write Everything Shuswap, my first response was to explain the connection between environmental protection and improving public awareness of their bioregion. However, after more reflection, the deeper reason for the dedication to the project stems from my desire to contribute to societal wellbeing.

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Bioregionalism key to wellness

Celista Farmers Market

This column marks another milestone; it is the 300th since I began writing these articles in 2005. The goal was to produce material for the first book about the Shuswap. That objective has finally been achieved and the book, Everything Shuswap is back from the printer and will be released at the May 17th book launch at Nexus in the First United Church in Salmon Arm. It will go on sale the following day at Askews Foods, Enderby IGA, the Salmon Arm Observer office, PharmaChoice Scotch Creek and the Blind Bay Village Market with all proceeds going to support outdoor learning in the Shuswap.

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation for a mini-Ted talk event on the theme of wellness hosted by the leadership class at Salmon Arm Secondary. I chose to speak about how bioregionalism is key to wellness.
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Slide Country


Sunnybrae slide on Randy Creek with cutblock above

While the Shuswap is not as prone to landslides as the coast or the Kootenays, nonetheless this region does experience extreme instability far too often and the problems are likely intensifying. A number of factors are behind the increase, including geography, climate change, and forestry. Some areas are definitely more susceptible, including Sunnybrae where a mudslide recently destroyed two homes and above Mara Lake, where concern about landslides has prompted the regional district to support a logging moratorium.

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Everything Shuswap finally off to press

Kathi Cooperman enjoys the spectacular view from the top of the Blind Bay Bluffs. This photo by Jim Cooperman appears in the beginning of the book.

Everything Shuswap, the first comprehensive book about our glorious Shuswap region, is finally off to be printed and will be available soon. The process to create this book began 12 years ago in 2005 when I began writing these columns, which were re-written and combined with other material for the manuscript. Developing the manuscript into the final book was a monumental effort that involved: reviews by local and provincial experts; the collection of many images and historic maps; the preparation of unique maps, graphs and tables; the excellent design and layout by Shuswap Press; extensive fund raising, and seemingly endless proofreading.
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150 years ago in the Shuswap

Shuswap Chiefs in Victoria, 1867 for Queen’s birthday, photo by Frederick Daily courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives

As communities prepare celebrations to commemorate Canada’s 150th year since Confederation, it is a good time to reflect on what the Shuswap was like in 1867. By then, the Secwepemc people had adapted to the impacts of the European invasion, but their numbers were fewer because of smallpox and other diseases brought by the miners. The fur trade, which had passed its peak in 1827, still continued, as the 1867 Hudson’s Bay Company journal has two entries about marten skins purchased from “Adam’s Lake Indians.”
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Spring fever at the Shuswap Seed Swap


It was inspiring to spend a day inside the massive Splatsin Centre with hundreds of people, all eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring. The 23rd annual Shuswap Seed Swap held on Saturday, March 4th was a huge success, as in addition to the significant sales of seeds, produce, tasty food and handmade items, the many participants enjoyed meeting up with friends and sharing information about sustainable living.
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