Canada ’08: Guisachan Heritage Park
Sometimes when on our travels, we barely notice the little gems right under our nose. Such was the case when I visited Guisacan Heritage Park recently. The home I have been staying in for the past three weeks in Kelowna, BC. Canada is but a few metres across Cameron Avenue from Guisachan Heritage Park.
I should really explain. Not only is the park practically on my doorstep, shamefully I have been walking and riding past it for over three weeks now with only a glimpse through the trees at the inviting looking picturesque gardens, fronted by an ancient looking wooden cabin which is now a private home. Finally I popped in there on the way to the local Guisachan Village shopping plaza, armed with the camera, and what a pleasant and interesting surprise it was.
I had understood that the fine looking Indian Colonial bungalow style building just visible through the trees had most recently been a stylish restaurant named Guisachan House. Unfortunately some time ago, fire had ravaged the building and it has lain unused since that time. What probably more interesting is that this was once the home of the Earl and Countess of Aberdeen in Scotland. The 480 acre Guisachan Ranch as the settlement became known developed into one of the most important places in and around Kelowna after the house was built in 1891. The word ‘Guisachan’ is derived from the Scots, meaning, ‘Place of the Firs’ and originally sported an avenue of the same trees imported from Inverness-shire. The Countess of Aberdeen naming the house after her childhood home.
These days Guisachan House is currently surrounded by builders fences keeping the public away from what was the restaurant. A notice near the front door advises optimistically that the restaurant is ‘taking bookings for December 2009′. One hopes that prospective diners are not feeling too hungry at this point.
The Cameron Gardens adjacent the house are presently what makes this small park a worthwhile visit. Known as Cameron Gardens after Elaine Cameron’s who’s family purchased the property in 1903. The ranch was used as a diary farm and W C Cameron and his wife Elaine lived on the property for all of 81 years. In that time it became an important social and cultural focus in Kelowna.
The property which became a City of Kelowna Park in 1986 is now splendidly looked after which a wide range of vegetation, often specifically chosen to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. A short stroll through this elegant riot of colour is all at once enriching and relaxing.
Other historic outbuildings are dotted around the property. The afore-mentioned private home is still known as McDougal House and was once the site of some rowdiness by the McDougalls of long ago. The marks of pistol shot around the house’s walls lay testimony to that! This building was carefully removed from its prior site on nearby Gordon Road. The old dairy’s milk shed is an interesting building too. It’s now used as an office for the heritage society and houses various historical artefacts.
The Central Okanagan Heritage Society who patron Guisachan Heritage Park can be contacted at 1060 Cameron Avenue, Kelowna, BC. VIY 8V3. www.okheritagesociety.com
No comments yet.