Shuswap

In the midst of a climate change emergency

Niskonlith wildfire, August 2003

It may be time to dismiss the notion that humans are like frogs that are unable to notice when their watery environment heats up to the boiling point, as it is difficult now to not notice the growing impacts from climate change. So far this summer we have dodged the forest fire bullet in the Shuswap, but half the summer is left and the sunny, hot weather is slated to continue.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

Arthur Manuel’s Legacy

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.
Continue reading

Monashee Mountains help define the Shuswap

                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.

Continue reading

Clues and mysteries in old maps

The 2012 book British Columbia, A New Historical Atlas by Derek Hayes provides an insightful look at the history of the province using old maps. Beginning with the first, hand drawn map of this region from 1814 by famed explorer David Thompson to the Surveyor’s General 1915 map, the shape of Shuswap Lake changed as cartographers became increasingly more accurate. These maps provide clues about our region’s history as they show the locations of old trails, wagon roads and communities and they show how well the geography was understood at that time. And there are mysteries surrounding some of the names and the spellings, and the sources of the mapmaker’s information.

Continue reading