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.
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.
Fifty-three years ago the might of the Soviet Union team were the world new super-power in ice hockey winning the World Championships. Always previously known as ‘Canada’s game’ the on-ice game was changing fast as the Soviets had defeated the East York Lyndhursts of Ontario who were representing Canada. This ignominious defeat by seven goals to two sent shock waves reverberating through Canada and the world of hockey. Previous to this, mighty Canada had always sent a top amateur team to contest the competition against other nations and now the call went out for someone to restore Canada’s pride. The team selected for the task were The Penticton Vees.
Penticton is but a small (and very pleasant) town at the southern end of Okanagan Lake. Tourists visit for the fine beach and winter skiing. Although always being fond of it’s hockey, it’s probably an unlikely place to search for a team to beat the might of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the Penticton Vees were the chosen to claim back the title, the team and Canada’s reputation being seriously at stake.
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 Bookshopis 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.