Canada ’08: The Colours of Silver Star

I had a recent trip up the road from Kelowna through the City of Vernon and on to the beautiful ski resort of Silver Star. I’ve been there several times previously with my partner, her family and our friends amidst the ski season on Christmas/New visits. This time it was to be a ‘dry run’ however, before the winter fun starts, hopefully promptly in November if snow conditions permit.

It’s been three years since my last visit on New Year’s Eve in 2005. On that occasion we skated on the excellent Brewster’s Pond at the resort. I whiled a couple of frigid but enjoyable hours on the ice, flipping a puck around with a rented hockey stick on that occasion. That was before retiring to a cosy bar to see in the UK New Year at 4pm Pacific Time.

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Canada ’08: Janson Towers

A recent worrying rash of serious road accidents involving motorcycle-vehicle collisions in Kelowna was added to a day ago by the news of the rider of a Harley-Davidson who collided with a young driver’s pick-up truck in Westside. The rider is said to have sustained a leg fracture and it’s thought he will survive. The circumstances of the accident are not clear at this point.

This story, reported in Kelowna’s Daily Courier is a sad reminder of a tragic tale that hit the front page of the same publication just recently on October 12. None of us likes to hear these stories but this one struck me as particularly heartbreaking. It concerns the story of 21-year old Okanagan Sun running back, Janson Towers who died in a collision between his motorcycle and a large semi-trailer vehicle at the busy junction of Gordon Drive and Harvey Avenue. Janson, who was on his way home from training with the club, sadly died from his injuries in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

Janson is reported to have had a series of speeding convictions and some would quite reasonably point to his style of riding putting others in danger. Without delving into the why’s and wherefores of this and the accident itself, it’s always terribly sad to see someone so young and gifted with their whole life in front of them taken away from us in this way. In another heart-rending note, Janson from Alberta had just four days previously been honoured as the Okanagan Sun’s most inspirational player. 

A day later, the Sun’s opponents, the South Surrey Rams offered to postpone their fixture scheduled for The Apple Bowl in Kelowna but Janson’s family insisted the show must indeed go on. Janson’s number 25 jersey was carried aloft on to the pitch before the game and his teammates managed to produce a 38-7 victory in his memory with a gutsy performance. Condolences go to the young man’s loved ones and all who knew him.

One hopes that Janson Towers’ story, and all the other recent senseless accidents will not go unheeded. Motorists out there please keep an extra watch out for motorcyclists and motorcyclists, please think carefully about your speed and safety. Hopefully the sad and unwanted increase in these type of accidents can be arrested.

Canada ’08: The Immaculate Conception Church, Kelowna

Last Sunday evening I paid a visit for Mass in the pleasant, friendly and welcoming, Immaculate Conception Church in Kelowna. I reconciled to arrive a little early and take in the atmosphere of the church, this being my first visit. No more than a mile’s walk along Ethel Street took me to the modern building situated on Sutherland Avenue for twenty to six in the evening, for Mass at six and a scattering of a congregation already in place.

My regular place of worship is Saint Barnabas RC Cathedral in Nottingham, UK, a traditional and older church and I was looking forward to comparing the difference with my regular Sunday evening Mass with that of the experience provided at the Immaculate Conception Church. Of course one understands that the message is the same one worldwide, but still it was interesting to spend my Sunday evening in a much more modern construction with a few different ways of doing things.

At the front of the church there is a welcome from Our Lady of Fatima, whilst upon entering from outside I picked up the Parish bulletin which was informative and free for worshippers. Interestingly there was a ‘Milestones and Anniversaries’ section which included the name of Hockey Hall of Famer, Mario Lemioux as a birthday boy that Sunday! Of course my interest and affection for the Immaculate Conception was now signed and sealed!

Mass began with Father Peter Tomkins who proved to be likeable and affable with the congregation, using an informal style when appropriate, particularly with the children that came forward to receive their awards.

A band played provided the music in a more modern, popular style than I am normally used to. It wasn’t my personal preference but it was hard to fault their excellent musicianship, sincerity and commitment. This echoed the whole feel of the Mass. I guess that I am used to a more sombre and serious affair and this experience felt very ‘light’ by comparison. Perhaps some would argue that this is just as things should be in these days of dwindling congregations.

Father Tomkins talked at length and with some authority in a pleasing manner, helping make Mass an enjoyable and interesting experience. One lighter moment was when a tiny boy ran clop-clop-clop-clop from the very back pew to him to eagerly be handed his award by Father Peter. The young lad was so small it was impossible to barely do anything but hear him, invisible as he was, beneath the level of the pews!

The Mass had a very mixed and (hey this is Canada right!) informal congregation dressed in a variety of ways! None of this ‘Sunday Best’ stuff here for some of the members!

The service ran promptly and finished a little quicker than I am used to. I walked out of the door with my usual lift in spirits for a Sunday evening and wandered off for the mile walk home in a rapidly cooling and crisp Kelowna evening. This was not before engaging in conversation with another member of the congregation whilst walking along the sidewalk. It’s pretty hard not to be sociable with people here in Kelowna, smiling and friendly as the locals invariably are. The congregation of The Immaculate Conception Church on Sutherland Avenue, Kelowna are certainly no exception.

Another view of The Immaculate Conception Church

Canada ‘08: A Canadian Institution (3) The Dollar Store

From inauspicious beginnings ten years ago in 1998, The first Dollar Store opened in Merrit, British Columbia followed very shortly afterwards by a similar outlet in Kelowna in the same province. Those two early stores spawned a huge chain of successful stores Canada-wide, now numbering over 170 franchises.

Of course we know that the concept of an ultra-low-price retail store is not just the preserve of Canada. Indeed in the UK we have our Pound Shops, but there just seems something so erm…intrinsically Canadian about these stores.

I’m actually a real sucker for these places and I’m not entirely sure why. I seldom spend much (well I guess that’s the general idea) or anything at all in them but I still can’t resist them – I can’t walk past one. I guess I just take a feeling that I might well be missing out on a great deal on something I really need. Dollar Stores are like that – all the stuff inside them is merchandise that you feel you can’t possible leave without and well, it’s a only a dollar (or two) anyway so you may as well buy it!

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Canada ’08: It’s Hockey Time!

It’s Hockey Time!

I feel fortunate to be in British Columbia now that the hockey season is upon us. It seems (and is) only days ago that I was lounging by the pool in 25C temperatures, now the Weather Channel is now predicting snow for tomorrow. Fall is a fairly dynamic concept in this part of the world!

As I write, a new theme for that great bastion of Canadianism, Hockey Night in Canada it about to be chosen imminently. The familiar original music that was a clarion call to the whole of Canada every Saturday evening during the Winter months has copyright issues surrounding it and can sadly no longer be used. Things change, but it seems a shame to lose this little Canadian institution.

I was watching a little pre-season hockey on the TV and was rewarded greatly by a terrific game between Detroit Redwings and my own favoured sons, The Montreal Canadiens. A few fresh faces being iced by both teams saw an extremely fast run-and-gun type of game that was hugely entertaining. Happily (for me) after two goals each in regular time the Les Habitants ran out winners in a knife-edged shoot-out with some well taken strikes by both teams. Viva le Blau, Blanc et Rouge.

Here in Kelowna a lot of the NHL interest is in the Vancouver Canucks, the nearest franchise to the Okanagan at around four and a half hours drive away. It’s from Vancouver too that a curious story is being reported in the local media of

Roberto Lunogo holds on to another puck
Roberto Luongo holds on to another puck

late. It concerns one Roberto Luongo, the Canucks’ ace goalie being appointed captain of the team. It’s been fifty long years since Bill Durnan performed the same role for Montreal in 1947/8. At that time Durnan would reportedly leave his crease regularly to talk to the officials in his capacity as team leader. This caused the league to introduce a new rule that prohibits a goal tender from acting as captain or alternate captain on the ice, or wearing a ‘C’ on his jersey.

The Canucks were being seen as teasing NHL bosses a little when Luongo appeared in a pre-season game against Anaheim with the ‘C’ not on his jersey but on the lower part of his helmet that protects his throat. When asked if the C stood for Captain, Vancouver boss Mike Gillis countered ‘it can stand for whatever he wants it to stand for’ presumably meaning that it may stand for Canucks as opposed to Captain.

Though it sounds a trivial matter, and is in some ways, the NHL bosses harbour concerns that allowing a goaltender to carry out a captain’s duties and obligations on-ice will offer a team unscheduled and unfair time-outs. At this time, stellar goalie Luongo is not allowed to discuss calls with officials. This however surely calls into question how effective he can truly be as the leader of the Canucks.

Canada ’08: Up and Down the Okanagan – Penticton

Continued from, Canada ’08: Up and Down the Okanagan – Peachland and Summerland

The day moves on and the rains begin to fall as we drive into Penticton via a short stop at Summerland Sweets which is the front office business of a highly successful company that trades up and down the Okanagan area. It’s almost three years since I visited Penticton and it feels a little different from previous times. Kelowna by comparison appears to be exploding with life, vitality and wealth while Penticton looks older and more dated. The town however does prosper through vacationers during the summer swarming to the lovely beaches and also to Apex Ski Resort in the winter months.

Okanagan Lake at Penticton

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Canada ’08: Up and Down the Okanagan – Peachland and Summerland

Midweek saw us travelling from Kelowna to the town of Penticton situated at the Southern end of the Okanagan Lake. Between the two lie the attractively named Peachland and Summerland. Leaving the city of Kelowna the new floating bridge, constructed recently lay before us. The William R. Bennett bridge was under consideration long before being given the green light so to speak. For many of those years too, the original floating bridge was deemed to be an inadequate crossing of Okanagan Lake with regular traffic jams. New bridge built alongside the original, the latter is now is now in an advanced state of demolition.

Immediately over the bridge and things are changing fast, politically at least. ‘The formerly proudly named Westbank is now known as ‘Westside’. An ignominious name perhaps for the proud and historic roots of Westbank.

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Canada ’08: I Was Walking in Walmart

An early start was required today as we were to take two of my partner’s aunts to Kelowna International Airport for their flights back home out East. Suitcases duly loaded, we were whistling through the early morning work traffic before 7am for a drop-off and goodbye to those dear ladies.

A welcome cup of coffee in the Skyview Lounge and a fond farewell, we were on our way back home before 8am, having picked up a rental Kia Rio for the journey and the coming week. Then came the call of Walmart before reaching home…

I’m always interested in inspecting stores in Canada, (albeit as we know Walmart is a very American company). They’re so different to British stores for many reasons. As we entered the huge hangar-like premises a meeting of sorts was being held on the shop floor. A convivial gathering of some fifty people was going in, something in the way of a staff meeting, a rabble-rousing pep-talk for the day’s duties ahead. I’d heard of these corporate Walmart customs before but had never witnessed one in the flesh so to speak.

The speaker must have been a great orator (or have the job positions of many of his junior staff in his hands) as the gathering was eliciting a huge belly laugh here and there. ‘way too cheerful for this time of day’ I considered in my regulation British manner. Phooey.

For the uninitiated, Walmart is a heck of a store. They sell just about everything – in twenty different ways. You can actually marvel amongst the aisles in these places. They’re great for people watching too. My first port of call was in the area showing dental supplies. Like a modern day chamber of horrors, they had a brush/tool/implement for practically every part of your pie-hole, probably powered at a rush by batteries too for the less-than-nervous.

I’d a lot of ground to cover here so I ignored my curiosity and strode purposely past the animal toys and boutique aisles. Another day they will be mine though. You know what I really like? There’s a certain male-oriented scent found in many hardware stores. It’s that satisfying yet cloying smell of rubber, I call it Eau de Canadian Tire. The men reading this will understand exactly what I mean.

Walmart assistants tend be of quite a different breed I’ve noticed. Mostly kindly, endearing and helpful certainly but there seems to be a hint of hard bitten, raging against the corporate machine going off inside them. Maybe those Walmart!, Walmart! Ra! Ra! Ra! sessions in the morning don’t work that well after all. Just like in British supermarkets these days, there are many more senior men and women stocking the shelves and smiling benignly at the customers. I have mixed feelings about this as I always try to imagine them in their proud former working lives and careers. Having said that one always recognises the dignity in work and labour.


Sesame Street comes to Walmart

The pricing in Walmart is of course what everyone is really interested in and here they stand comparison with most. Often enough, there is a matching lack of quality but by no means always. It’s always occurred to me that Canada, the country, is the big boots capital of the world. It’s probably something to do with the weather to be honest but what really can beat a good ‘ol pair of Kodiaks for a winter spent shovelling snow around. Nothing like that here though – just row upon row of work boots that look a lot like walking boots. Tough, sturdy and masculine and starting at around twenty-five dollars. In Canada you can wear this sort of footwear anywhere – even at…no especially at weddings.

A few slightly incongruous items of clothing are available on the shelves too. Today’s ‘spot’ were tee-shirts displaying the logos of  the Juventus Football Club of Italy and Football Club Barcelona, the Catalan giants of the beautiful game.

The sports section of any large store in Canada is always an eye-opener. By comparison UK contemporaries are bland clothes shops with rack after rack of ‘leisure wear’ exploding with corporate logos. Not here. After passing the counter with lethal-looking firearms safely under glass, I pondered on a formidable-ooking archery bow with attendant arrows. Maybe I should acquire one, along with one of the menacing-looking camouflage jackets and matching hats. A new-era British Columbian Robin Hood indeed.

After what seemed like half a lifetime I managed to locate my partner (yes, that’s another problem) and sneak out of the door without buying anything. That surely has to be some kind of record.

October begins in Kelowna

The Kelowna Daily Courier has the welcome sight of two bathing beauties on the front page of the October 2 edition today. Any excuse one might say but the real reason is that The city hit record high temperatures for this time of year yesterday of 25.5C, beating the previous best by 0.5C. It’s all very welcome of course and certainly ‘Esdra Gunn and Kelli Strynadka both 21′ pictured sunning themselves at Gellatly Bay are easy enough on the eye over breakfast.

That same page has a much less salubrious article too unfortunately recording the possible plight of the some of the large population of bunnies that are to be found running wild on the grass verges around Kelowna. I’ve spoken of Kelowna’a bunny problem previously but at that time the eventual destiny of the floppy-eared creatures was yet to be decided. Some weeks later a ‘rabbit eradication program’ has begun rather sadly. It seems the rabbits are being shot with air rifles by a company called EBB who have been instructed by the local authorities.

City calls stomping disgusting and appalling

Today’s Courier report however speaks of a review on proceedings and rather more sinister actions than a straight cull of the animals. This has occurred after an EBB employee was reported as stomping a rabbit to death after it failed to die to order after being shot. The EBB have claimed that stomping on the animal was intended to ‘put the animal out of it’s misery’ after only being wounded by the shot.

Joe Creron. The Kelowna City Parks Manager is quoted as having asked a veterinarian about the practice of crushing a rabbit’s skull as a means of euthanasia and was informed that this was considered ‘a humane means of putting the animal down’. Creditably Mr. Creron begs to differ, claiming that ‘Although this may be considered humane by professionals, it’s not acceptable to the city’. He added ‘I was disgusted and appalled when I heard about it;. Hear hear Mr, Creron.

It’s easy to understand and accept that the Kelowna bunnies are a problem in the city, particularly posing a threat to farmers and their crops. At the same time I have to agree with Joe Creron and the city’s stand against this unfortunate practice.

Canada ’08: Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market

Farmers Markets. I really quite enjoy he idea of these things as in my better moments I’m always keen to try fresh local produce wherever I am in the world or simply at home. These days we see an encouraging trend towards local produce and this can only be viewed as a good thing.

Driving through Kelowna this lunchtime, we realised that it was the last day of the current Farmers and Market situated off Dilworth Road not far from home so we decided to drop and and sample the wares. Such delectable goods on sale were a hat stand made of ice hockey sticks, a fridge magnet toothpick holder complete with Provincial emblem and other Canadiana. How much would I like that to fit that hat stand into my suitcase! What I like about these events is the food though. Pure honest to goodness local fruit and vegetables without the custom ‘perfection’ of the imported supermarket food, but stuffed with goodness and taste. Some of the corn on the cob bought on the market today was the finest and sweetest I’ve eaten in many a long year.

One thing I do find slightly difficult in my slightly reticent British way is engaging with the stall holders occasionally. I quickly begin to feel beholden to buy something. My cupboards at home can lay testimony to this in the past. Today a modern-day ‘medicine man’ was proffering his lotions and potions quite loudly from behind one of the stalls. I attempted to skulk past without him noticing but it was to no avail – he spotted me getting away and shouted a friendly ‘hey there!’. What was then delivered like a volley across from behind the bottles of goodness-knows-what still took me by surprise though. ‘Hey – I have something here for stiff limbs!’ Slightly nonplussed I flashed a weak grin responded equally with an equally lame ‘er…no. I’m alright thanks’. This of course has had me considering my gait for the rest of the day since that flip comment from Dr. Medicine. Do I walk kinda funny? Am I genuinely a little stiff after that slightly longer run by the waterfront the day before yesterday? Am I getting old. Damn you Dr. Medicine – you got under my skin with that off the cuff remark of yours, little did you know (or perhaps you did?)

A Cherry Pit Spitting Contest in full flow

This was not all by any means. There was further unwelcome thinking to do. I spied a printed leaflet detailing events held around the Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market. Events that I could have barely imagined from my no-Canadian little world. Try this on for size, how would you fancy taking part in a Cherry Pit Spitting Contest? or a Gourd Bowling Contest? Perhaps a simple Weird Vegetable Contest would suffice if not? Fun, Fun Fun as The Beach Boys used to say. With a capital ‘F’.

I’m there already.

Canada ’08: Wild Apple, Manteo Resort, Kelowna

Another restaurant review to offer for the visitor to the Okanagan. As previously stated, there really are some wonderful eating places to choose from in the city but Wild Apple is surely amongst the best at the ‘high end’ of the price range.For the UK visitor, that term will not cause too much dismay. Canadian prices being what they are, this attractive grill at Manteo Resort will not cause great consternation when ordering the bill.

On the night, at around 7.30pm Thursday, we found it a little difficult to park and finally had to park on Lakeshore a short walk down the road. On reaching Manteo, the foyer of the resort is very impressive and relaxed. Though plush and well-appointed, a resident bedecked in towelled robe and sandals wandered unconcerned across the polished and spacious reception area as we made our way to the two young female receptionists stood behind a lecturn. In a quiet alcove a businesswoman sat in a huge leather armchair tapping on a laptop.

Continue reading “Canada ’08: Wild Apple, Manteo Resort, Kelowna”

Canada ’08: Snakes Alive!

Out on of my daily runs around the sidewalks in Kelowna, a surprising thing happened to me the other day. I’ve got used to my usual daily slog in the Okanagan heat. The longer runs can be something of a strain in the mid-thirties sun, sometimes without too much shade whilst running alongside the local orchards. One thing they certainly do offer is a challenge.

There have been very few occasions in the past when I have found myself in something of a scrape. Two in Italy come to mind. One was getting hopelessly lost in the streets of Rome and another being confronted by a pack of dogs up a dark lane in Napoli. A few times I’ve felt dangerously cold whilst running, another occasion saw me contracting heat-stroke which left me pretty poorly for a day or two. (Curiously I have never craved ice cream as much as I did on that run!)

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Canada ’08: The Sunny Okanagan

I don’t claim this to be an original set of observations by myself but it tells one of the stories of living in the Okanagan area of British Columbia, Canada. It’s a hot place sure enough. A nice dry heat that I personally find easy to adapt to without the familiar humidity of the UK. Officially a desert, it really feels like it sometimes. I don’t find too many of the locals complaining though…

What’s not to like?



May 30th:
Just moved to THE SUNNY OKANAGAN. NOW THIS IS THE PLACE TO LIVE … Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings. What a place! It is beautiful. I’ve  finally found my home. I love it here.         


 June 14th:
Really heating up. Got to 30C today. Not a problem. Live in an  air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to  see the sun everyday like this. I’m turning into a sun worshipper. Continue reading “Canada ’08: The Sunny Okanagan”

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.

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Canada ’08: In and Around Kelowna

It’s been a few weeks since I arrived in Kelowna, British Columbia from the United Kingdom via Vancouver. I had meant to compile a few observations about the old place before now. It’s certainly been interesting and fun in the meantime though.

Pandosy Street

The manner.

After some (around) twelve visits to Canada – most of them reasonably protracted ones, some of the first observations I ever made years ago still come back to surprise me. The first one is the openness ad friendliness of the people. In this instance I talk of people in and around the Okanagan Valley but the same could be said for the majority of my Canadian destinations east to west. Sometimes Canadian folk are just surprisingly friendly.

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Canada ’08: The Mirthmobile is dealt a lethal blow!

We were due to travel to Penticton down at the foot of Okanagan Lake today. A few things awaited us there in the pretty town with its attractive beaches and relaxed atmosphere. Penticton is the home of the single best second-hand bookstore I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending my ill-gotten in for instance. The Bookshop is basically set out in two rooms on a couple of heavily packed levels. At a floor space of 5000 square feet, the store is a complete haven for readers. The last couple of occasions I had the pleasure of visiting I wished I’d taken a packed lunch as I practically had to be dragged bodily out of the place.


Another promising visit for me personally was to be the Penticton Memorial Ice Rink to view the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame. Well I’m in close-season suspense and I’m in Canada eh? I need my hockey fix badly.

There’s a simple, straightforward route to Penticton from Kelowna which most sensible people take. It entails an uncomplicated and very attractive drive that follows the Okanagan Lake past Peachland and Summerland. That why we chose the difficult way of course, through the mountains on the opposite side of the lake. It seemed like a great idea at the time to see a road and some tremendous views that we’d not had the pleasure of on past visits.

Continue reading “Canada ’08: The Mirthmobile is dealt a lethal blow!”

Canada ’08: Gasthaus on the lake, Peachland

Last night I had the pleasure of taking the short drive down to Peachland from Kelowna for dinner. In truth, the choice of restaurants in Kelowna is most daunting. Not for any negative reason but conversely for the huge range of good quality eating in the city. It’s almost impossible to make a decision where to eat some days.

With a little more time on our hands on a Sunday evening, we chose to cross the newly-constructed floating bridge over Okanagan Lake at Harvey and head on through Westbank to our eventual destination, Peachland and specifically Gasthaus on the lake.

Continue reading “Canada ’08: Gasthaus on the lake, Peachland”

Canada ’08: The Legend of Ogopogo

The legendary Loch Ness Monster which supposedly resides in the deep waters of the Great Glen in Northern Scotland is a well known figure whether believed or not. How many though would know of ‘Nessie’s’ reputed cousin, Ogopogo, the storied monster of Okanagan Lake in British Columbia’s interior? There’s a fine tale I’ve always been fond of that the palindromically named Ogopogo is actually Nessie’s cousin, and that there exists a tunnel through to the dark, dank waters of Loch Ness from Okanagan Lake. I like the notion of this.

The earliest sighting documented of Ogopogo was by some of the first European settlers in the area back in 1927. A large group of people were reported as seeing the monster a little while afterwards and the story was given serious credence in the newspapers of the time. Some sighting have been accredited to being otters, logs and beavers. When one considers the last example it seems a bit of a stretch as a fully grown beaver can reach only as much as four feet whilst sighting describe a creature of fifteen feet and more. Yet another opinion believes that Ogopogo is actually a Sea Sturgeon. A nice tale is that the monster lived in a cave in an island on Okanagan Lake. Unfortunately the view of the cave’s entrance has now been obscured by a housing development!

Local native people call the monster ‘Naitaka’ which translates as ‘sacred creature of the water’. It was non-aboriginals in Vernon, BC that renamed the monster ‘Ogopogo’. There are many legends and tales of the monster and many of them are of Native origin. One legend states that Ogopogo was a man possessed by demons who had murdered a well-respected local man by the name of ‘Old Kan-He-Kan’. The name evolved into ‘Okanagan’. The Native gods transformed the murderer into a lake serpent so that he would never be released from the remorse of his evil deeds.

Curiously, some sightings of the monster are described as ‘log’s coming to life’ And swimming away. One such spot in Peachland down the lake from Kelowna described whatever she had seen as coming to life and swimming against the tide. In earlier times Natives from Westback on the opposite side of the lake would row over to Kelowna for supplies. On one occasion not one but three Ogopogos were said to have tried to tip their row boat over! The frightened First Nation people even reported that when they found the courage to take to the water again Ogopogo would always be there waiting for them!

Early rock painting by Natives that depict the sea serpent have been reported by early settlers in the area. They often showed a fish-like animal able to stand upright. Other later sightings tell of a humped creature with a head similar to a sheep. Yet more talk of a snake-like creature.

A famous spotting was the story of one Henry Murdoch who was practicing for a long-distance swim on the lake back in the early 1930s’. Murdoch had a pilot boat accompanying him twenty feet in front. At one point his friend John Ackland looked up to see the swimmer disappeared and began frantically searching the water for him in the eight-foot deep water. With no success he rowed to shore to alert the police but after two days searching and dragging the lake Murdoch’s body was mysteriously never found. Henry a former lifeguard and the Okanagan area’s best swimmer arguably was never seen again, in spite of the waters being extremely clear, shallow and without a current.

So who knows the truth about Ogopogo? Sightings continue in modern day. Some talk of the monster being descended from the plesiosaur others have diverse opinions as to its origin, if any. From a personal viewpoint I’ve always treated the story with a large pinch of salt; much as some locals appear to if the jokey Nessie-like statue of Ogopogo in the Lake Shore area is to believed. Carrying out a little research into the legend alters my pre-formed opinion though. Some sightings are perhaps easier to dismiss than others but others seem very realistic and vivid alternatively. The Native rock paintings and the way they depicted aboriginal life in that era are also very thought-provoking.

Ogopogo depicted on Lake Shore in Kelowna
Ogopogo depicted on Lake Shore in Kelowna

I’ll pass on a ‘don’t know’ verdict on Ogopogo – just as I did The Loch Ness Monster. Whatever your beliefs, the legend of Ogopogo with its many tales and fables is one to relish and one that Kelowna and the Okanagan owns personally.

Canada ’08: The Kettle Valley Trail

One of the visits I was most looking forward to during my current stay in British Columbia was an excursion to see The Kettle Valley Trail which has points just 18km south-east of Kelowna. Some five years ago the original mountainside trestles which the Kettle Valley Railway had historically travelled across were horribly destroyed during the Great Okanagan Mountain Park Fire which ravaged the area and changed the landscape for ever.

Our trip was to view and walk arguably the most spectacular part of the old route, The Myra Canyon with its huge wooden trestles newly restored, promised a unique experience up in the foothills of the Purcell Mountains.

Continue reading “Canada ’08: The Kettle Valley Trail”

Canada ’08: The Great Bunny Hunt

Since driving from the airport on our initial day back in Kelowna almost three weeks ago one thing struck me straight away. On the tidy green grass verges all around the city are hundreds of domestic bunnies scampering around playfully everywhere. Domestic certainly, these are not the wild rabbits seen commonly in the UK but rather, big, floppy-eared creatures that look like they belong in a cosy hutch in the back garden. They’re pretty cute actually sitting on the borders of the roads and highways with huge pick-up trucks thundering past them with the roar of their huge engines providing a counterpoint to the gentle nibbling of the bunnies. It’s reported that there are up to 700 of them are scattered around Kelowna.

In fact the original Kelowna rabbits were domestic pets that were either turned out of house and home or alternatively escaped, I am assured. Bunnies being what they are (and what they do best) are now taking over the city much to some people’s chagrin.

There are a number of lobbies and just as many opinions about what course of action to take about the animals. Thankfully the majority don’t coincide with the actions taken by two thugs reported in The Kelowna Daily Courier this week. A security guard spotted a 24 year-old man and his 14 year-old brother mindlessly attacking some of the rabbits with 1.5 metre-long sticks. Happily those two look to be facing charges of cruelty to animals.

Any day now, EBB Environmental is due to trap and kill the feral rabbits. No actual date is to be released due to threats received from individuals and groups prepared and ready to disrupt the cull. Three methods have been released according to a city representative. Perhaps none will be suitable for animal lovers but the methods proposed are firstly to trap the rabbits and give them to groups such TRACS who have been involved in saving the rabbits from the cull. Alternative propositions are to trap and then kill them by lethal injection and finally to trap and shoot them with high-powered rifles. The rabbits will then be offered to wildlife shelters as food.

What’s certain is that the future of Kelowna’s feral bunny population looks a bleak one. What a shame that this city problem has been allowed to grow to the proportions it has. Perhaps all stake-holders in this problem need to share a little blame for the Kelowna bunny’s plight.

Canada ’08: The Kelowna Daily Courier – Annie’s Mailbox

I came across this outstanding contribution to ‘Annie’s Mailbox’ in the Daily Courier this morning and just had to share. Don’t you just love those ‘Agony Aunt’ columns – places where you can read of the bizarre happenings in others’ lives. It’s a neat little downward social comparison. You can be most thankful it’s not you in there.

The following lady has encountered a problem with her neighbour who she describes as ‘the Stud’. The elderly lady writing in receives some good, down-home advice as usual from Kathy Mitchell and Marcy, – ‘longtime editors of the Ann Landers column’.

“DEAR ANNIE I have a problem with my next-door neighbor. He is a retired man, very religious, and when he talks to me, he’s forever adjusting his you-know-what.

It is so embarrassing that I don’t even want to say hello to him. He is 62 and has a lovely wife. I am in my 80s. Do you suppose he has a medical problem? Or does he think he’s giving me a thrill? How can I let him know his actions are repulsive? – Not interested in the Stud.”


“DEAR NOT INTERESTED: For the sake of being a good neighbor, you should ask if he has a medical problem. The next time this happens, say with a straight face and great concern, “You ought to have that checked. It could be serious.” Or you can tell his wife that you are worried about the constant scratching and he should see his doctor. Since you are only discussing his health the mortification will be minimal.”

Canada ’08: Father Pandosy’s Story

This is a story about faith, courage and devotion. It’s a story about the man who is credited with forming the settlement through his mission in the Okanagan Valley which became the city of Kelowna in British Columbia, Canada

Father Charles Marie Pandosy was born in 1824 near Marseilles, France and was ordained into the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, an order of Catholic Priests founded in 1824 in France. Oblate translated means ‘total giving’ or sacrifice, and this is what those ordained set out to achieve by means of missionary work.

After a period working in Oregon in the US, Father Pandosy and Father Pierre Richard established a Mission in the Okanagan area in 1859. Their Mission in what is now known as Mission Creek was lovingly tended and nourished for thirty years. It became a local focus for religious, cultural and social happenings whilst they built up a large farm and cattle ranch. They also built the region’s first church and school.

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Canada ’08: The Kelowna Daily Courier

I check out the local paper frequently here in Kelowna. In truth I really enjoy Canadian newspapers but rarely find the time to inspect them too closely on my stays over here. I love the style of all those different sections to peruse, it’s so expansive, so I really must find more time to do this.

Here’s a couple of interesting stories I noticed over a quick breakfast read yesterday morning. The former is not in fact a Canadian story but nevertheless a North American article which could not be passed over. The second one is from Kelowna, BC. Canada, and might well stay in the consciousness a little longer…

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