Fifty years of Shuswap Passion


At the wheel of “Lucy” the day we left Berkeley, California 50 years ago, note the ‘Gods Eye’ on the aerial 

April 2019 marks a milestone in my life, as 50 years ago I crossed the border as a landed immigrant to begin a new life on our treed property above Shuswap Lake. The border guards must have chuckled when they saw us arrive in our 20-year old pick-up truck with my homemade camper that resembled a Conestoga wagon, two dogs, a cat and homesteading tools.

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The First Lee Creek Trail Ride

By Jim Cooperman and Barrie Warkentin (in bold)

Pausing for the camera, en route on a logging road – Eric Lutjen with Jon on Melody, Barrie on Sahara with Aaron, Mary on Ben with Beverly, Debbie on Biscayne with Molly and Larry on Whiskey with Mary Lou. Barrie’s  truck, the Red Devil, on the right, photo by Jim Cooperman

In August 1972, four young families headed up a logging road to a mountain plateau with five horses and friends in support vehicles to camp, explore and party around campfires. Over five days and four nights they enjoyed rides across sub-alpine meadows, picked wild berries, and endured cold rainy weather cramped together in an old cabin.

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Reflections from an anti-war and environmental activist


1967 Stop the Draft Protest

Fifty-one years ago in Oakland California, I joined with other anti-war activists to block buses full of inductees heading to the Induction Centre. With a loud speaker atop my old panel truck, I cruised the streets of Berkeley, announcing the action and driving protestors to the site. When a phalanx of police came down the street bashing heads with their batons, I escaped to avoid injury and arrest.

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The Frank – Brznitski/ Cohen/Corwin – Cooperman Family History


I was inspired to write this history of my father’s family by cousin Phil Greenberg, who sent me digital copies of old family photos. In 1987, Phil retained an oral historian to interview our grandmother’s cousin Rose Pilpel, who as a young child spent many of her primary school holidays with her grandparents (and our great-great grandparents), Liba Rischl and Moshe Frank  (or Moishe, which is the Yiddish spelling) in Sejny, Poland.

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Everything Shuswap featured in popular online magazine

The Tyee is an independent online magazine that has won many journalism awards for its lively, informative news and views. In mid-December, it published a feature about my book Everything Shuswap, with an interview and excerpts from chapter four. Tyee editor, Barry Link, prefaced the interview by noting, “It is colourful and accessible and reveals the Shuswap has much of what Tyee readers adore: clean lakes, green forests, farmers markets and folk music.” Below are some excerpts from the interview.

[Read the entire feature here: A Love Letter to the Shuswap]
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Everything Shuswap CBC interview


Click here to listen: CBC interview


Finally, A book about the Shuswap!

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.
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Building our “hippie log mansion!”

Our “hippie log mansion” today

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:


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.

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My first visit to Lee Creek, where I have lived since 1969

‘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.

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Forty years of passion

A Shuswap Passion column for the Shuswap Market News
By Jim Cooperman
April, 2009

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.

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