It was over ten years ago that I began writing this column with the goal of producing enough material for a book about the geography of the Shuswap. After I began to combine and add to the material for the book, it became apparent that three volumes would be needed in order to provide comprehensive coverage. When the first draft of the first volume of Everything Shuswap was completed over a year ago, a publishing plan was needed. As traditional publishers are no longer interested in regional publications, a local effort began to secure partners and funding.
In the summer of 1970, I had just finished post-graduate work at the Professional Development Program at Simon Fraser University and received a teaching credential. Upon returning to the Shuswap from Vancouver, I wrote these words in my journal that described my goals for living:
BACK TO THE COUNTRY
I am attempting to restructure my life to ecological commitments. This entails developing a self-sufficient life style in which simple country living needs are provided by meaningful tasks. I want to build the structures needed out of natural materials found on the land. Making use of trees cut down and left to rot or dead but standing. I want to recycle all my wastes back into the land. I hope to work with the land – approaching a more natural, symbiotic relationship with nature. I want to release the creative energies that lie unused in my mind and body. I want to learn the possibilities alive in wood and clay. We don’t need to isolate ourselves in a mountain retreat. We hope to have a small community of people based on craft work. People we can get together with, to make magic, to dance and to be festive.
‘Lovely Rita, the meter maid’ – my first vehicle on its long trip in the summer of 1967 from Berkeley, north to Vancouver through the Shuswap to Jackfish Lake in Northwestern Ontario near the border where we spent 10 marvelous days canoeing, fishing and mostly camping in one cool spot atop a rocky knoll above the lake with our puppy, Dillweed. Atop the truck are four hitchhikers, likely on their way to Expo 67 in Montreal.
I began a little history project about our Lee Creek community on Facebook and challenged everyone to write a description of their first visit. Here is what I wrote:
The story begins in 1959, when it was my third season at summer camp, near Ely, Minnesota. Every year we went on week-long canoe trips, and after enjoying the latest adventure I yearned for the following year’s two-week long trip in Canada. But in 1960, our family moved from Minneapolis to San Diego where I soon forgot about canoeing as I spent long summer days at the pool or the beach.
A Shuswap Passion column for the Shuswap Market News
By Jim Cooperman
This month marks a milestone in my many years of passion for the Shuswap, and therefore this column, my one hundredth, breaks my rule for avoiding the first person narrative. Forty years ago, I arrived here, an idealistic war-resister with a degree in psychology from the University of California in Berkeley and a rudimentary carpentry apprenticeship, to settle on 40 acres of logged over “bush” above Shuswap Lake. To describe my first six years here as rustic would be an understatement, as during those years, we raised three children in a small log cabin without the “luxuries” of running water, telephone or electricity.