English Creek now a bouldering destination

photo by William Eaton


[This is the second part of a column about a landscape southeast of Three-Valley Gap that conservationists first learned about from local foresters and was subsequently protected in the Okanagan Shuswap Land and Resource Management Planning process five years later.] 

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The English Creek magical landscape

John Vivian examines one of the giant boulders, photo by Jim Cooperman


It had been twenty-five years since the last time I visited one of the truly magical areas in the Shuswap, the English Creek valley southeast of Three-Valley Gap. Two intrepid local adventurers, Blaine Carson and John Vivian joined me recently for the tour into a landscape fitting for the imaginary world of the Hobbits, on a 1.3-kilometre long trail along English Creek that winds around massive boulders covered in thick moss underneath giant old growth cedar and hemlock trees. Amidst the wonder, we found small signs that designated climbing routes, as this valley had also become a destination for the sport of bouldering.

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Visualizing a better future for the Shuswap

Fall harvest time in the Salmon River Valley, photo by Jim Cooperman

It may take a year or two, but eventually the pandemic will likely be gone and life will return to some level of normalcy. While the Shuswap has so far been fortunate to avoid many health consequences, the impact on our economy and our social lives continues to be problematic. As well, the disease has exposed many of the flaws in our society that need to be addressed during the recovery.

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Rally for the Forests

Rally participants, photo by Judith Benson

On September 18th, the Shuswap Environmental Action Society held a rally in conjunction with Forest March protests held throughout the province. There were three speeches and a short play written and directed by James Bowlby, entitled “The Lumberjack’s Dilemma” and performed by the Salmon Arm Actor’s Studio.

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Time for action to challenge ongoing forest mismanagement

Not much left to log in this area north of Momich Lake

Despite the change of government in Victoria, there have been no changes to forestry policies that have provided corporations with unfettered access to the rapidly declining timber supply. To address the negative impacts such as damaged water supplies, floods, loss of wildlife habitat, loss of recreational opportunities, loss of jobs, and loss of endangered species that are increasing exponentially, community activists are organizing a virtual five-day long summit culminating in a day of protest on Friday, September 18th.

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Black Henbane – a Shuswap botanical phenomenon

The first photo taken of the mysterious plant discovered in our new garden

This spring we brought in a small excavator to create a new raspberry patch below our largest vegetable garden, which involved spreading a long, massive mound of dirt that was created from piling weeds over a few decades. When it came time to do the first weeding, I discovered some strange looking plants and after pulling most of them, I decided to identify one using a phone app.

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Discovered Roaring Twenties painting shows how history repeats

Searches for many topics related to the Shuswap often end up at my blog site, shuswappassion.ca where there are hundreds of articles. Recently, Lawrence McWilliams from Whidbey Island, Washington was looking for more information about the artist, Jerome Howard Smith, who had signed the painting found hidden in a ceiling by his parents in 1967. After reading my blog about the famous artist who lived in Chase over 100 years ago, he contacted me with hope of learning more.

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The spectacular Shuswap inspires fabulous art


There is an abundance of spectacular scenery to inspire marvelous art in the Shuswap and thus it is no wonder that so many great artists have chosen to live and create here. Perhaps one of the best examples of an acclaimed artist that moved here is the late Daphne Odjig, who lived in Angelmont from 1976 to 1999. Not only is her work exhibited in galleries across Canada and was featured on Canadian postal stamps, she also received numerous awards and honours, including the Order of Canada.

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Shuswap’s own “Group of Seven”

The original Group of Seven, Frederick Varley, A.Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris, Barker Fairley (not a member) Frank Johnson,Arthur Lismer and Je. E. H. MacDonald. Image ca. 1920, F 1066 Archives of Ontairo, I0010313

True pioneers of the Canadian art scene, the Group of Seven were extraordinary landscape painters who collaborated together from 1920 to 1931. Three more artists joined in later years and two other artists, B.C.’s very own Emily Carr and Tom Thompson who inspired the group to focus on Canada’s unique natural landscape but died young, were closely associated to the group. There are also seven contemporary Shuswap artists who have achieved significant recognition, although they do not all collaborate as the original group did.

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Old growth forests at threat both provincially and locally

A study by three forest ecosystem specialists made headlines recently due to its alarming findings that the amount of British Columbia’s old growth forest has been grossly overestimated. The common government and industry narrative that there still remain millions of hectares of ancient trees has been deemed misleading, because most of these forests contain only puny trees. These scientists determined that out of the province’s 13.2 million hectares of remaining old growth forest, only three percent contain large trees, which totals just approximately 400,000 hectares.

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