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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
On February 2, 2017, the BC Government announced it will provide $27-million to boost mountain caribou recovery efforts. The additional funding will be invested in the ongoing program that includes habitat protection and restoration, maternal penning, predator management, research and monitoring and increased compliance and enforcement. While the environmental community welcomed the announcement, there is a growing concern that it may be too late to save this iconic ungulate species from extinction.
Arthur Manuel addresses a group of activists in 2014
The Shuswap lost a true community leader and a powerful, effective advocate for Indigenous rights and title last month, when Arthur Manuel passed away at the age of 66. Thankfully, he wrote two books that provide a better understanding of the over two centuries of Canadian injustice that First Nations have had to endure and what actions are needed to rightfully address the problems.
Mount Fosthall is the second highest mountain in the Shuswap
The Shuswap region is defined by its watershed, which includes the rivers and streams that all eventually empty into Shuswap Lake and the South Thompson River. However, it is the Monashee Mountains that actually direct much of this flow of water. These mountains in turn form part of the Columbia Mountain Range that also includes the Selkirks, Purcells, and the Cariboo Mountains.