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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The Haig-Brown Legacy

There is an effort underway to re-name Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park with a Secwepemc name. While it may be considered appropriate to recognize local First Nation’s over 9,000 years of life here with a name change, it would also be disrespectful to reject the contributions of one of BC’s most respected conservationists whose efforts led directly to the creation of the park. Although Haig-Brown passed away in 1976, his legacy carries on through the work of the Institute named for him that is based out of his well preserved home in Campbell River.

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Gifts that keep on giving

Kathi Cooperman surveys the west Shuswap from the Blind Bay Lookout

As we approach the solstice and the holiday season, it is appropriate to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in the Shuswap. It is a gift that keeps on giving, to live here, surrounded by clean air, clean water, green trees, and friendly neighbours. Plus we have four seasons to enjoy a wide diversity of recreational pursuits from golfing, swimming and boating to hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing.
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The transformative, gateway community of Sicamous

Sicamous from the hang gliding ramp lookout. Photo by Ian Clay

At the eastern gateway to the Shuswap is the municipality of Sicamous, a transformative community that is poised to re-invent itself again. Its unusual name is a derivation of the Secwepemc word “Shick-a-mows” meaning  “squeezed in the middle.” The early surveyor and explorer Walter Moberly first used the written word on his 1866 map of the region to describe the narrows between Shuswap and Mara Lakes.
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Shuswap’s first trail guides


Long before the Trail Alliance was even a glimmer of an idea, seven outdoor enthusiasts produced the first trail guide for the Shuswap region. In 1973, this group of like-minded friends who enjoyed exploring the backcountry obtained a federal Opportunity for Youth grant to publish a thin book with maps, photos and descriptions of local trails as well as canoe and cycle routes.
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Malakwa – Gateway to mountain adventure

Swinging Bridge over the Eagle River

Malakwa is a resourceful community that when faced with challenges, finds a way to continue thriving. Most of us speed by the tiny hamlet of 500 people on the four-lane freeway unaware of its virtues, its possibilities and its rich history. Despite Malakwa’s shuttered sawmill, burnt-out truck stop, public school closure and decrepit community centre, the Community Centre Association has persevered to provide services and help maintain a strong community spirit.

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North Fork Wild dream now a reality

One of many new walkways in the park

Peter Jennings would be extremely pleased with the progress made towards his vision of North Fork Wild. The Shuswap is a richer place thanks to Peter’s generosity and foresight, as he donated his 21 hectares to the CSRD in 2012 for a park. The network of trails constructed by Peter and his close friend Gerald King have been vastly improved and are already being well used by the public and school groups.

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Living the dream in Seymour Arm

Bughouse Bay & Seymour Arm with Hunakwa Lake in the distance, circa 1995 Photo by Myron Kozak

If any of the 80 full-time residents of the Shuswap’s most remote community of Seymour Arm were asked why they choose to live there, the answer would likely be because they appreciate the peace and quiet. And it was certainly peaceful on September 12th when I drove there to interview a few locals, take some photos and enjoy a hike. Serenity can be elusive however during the summer, when most of the 500 homes and summer cabins are full, campgrounds are packed and boats of all sizes and shapes fill the bay.
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