Sunday in Summerland is a day to relax, and we did do that. There were few goals to accomplish, except searching through bookstores for extra copies of the books I had, that Sam wanted copies of. I also wanted to locate and photograph the Brigade Murals that had been painted by Larry Hunter. Summerland is a small town, but quite a confusing place for a stranger to drive around in: in spite of that, we found the murals quite quickly (almost accidentally, if you wish). If you happen to be in Summerland and want to locate them, they are painted on the walls of a building that stands right next to the Aquatic Centre, on one of the main streets in town.
The murals do a good job of getting the feeling of riding in a Brigade across to people who might not understand what a Brigade actually is. I am pleased that Summerland is promoting that part of their history: it is an important part of British Columbia history as well.
A short distance away from the mural, we found the Summerland summer market going on, with lots of tents and artwork and books and music and everything else you could wish for in a summer market. There was a gentleman there walking his goats: apparently a familiar sight in Summerland — they got a few extra pets from us, and everyone enjoyed the experience. It was very calm, and quite hot, I think, and we took our time going through the stands and the many displays. We had lunch, and then Sam discovered the Summerland Museum display, and we discovered that the Museum was open and we could visit it — today!
We did visit it, and on the front desk the Summerland Museum staff had for sale a few copies of the first of the books that Sam wanted to get his hands on! This is the booklet titled “The Okanagan Brigade Trail in the South Okanagan, 1811 to 1849, Oroville, Washington to Westside, British Columbia,” written by the well-known Brigade Trail historians Bob Harris, Harley Hatfield, and Peter Tassie, in 1989 (ISNB 0-9694207-0-6). The maps in this book are wonderful — although seeing the roads and benchlands shown on the maps is an experience beyond words, as you can guess.
Then back to Penticton, where we found another bookstore and searched its collection of booklets for the second book that Sam wanted: unfortunately without success. This was a large bookstore, and it is probably The Book Shop, on Main Street, at a guess. Bookstores in the interior are really good: they are what Victoria’s bookstores used to be like, but are no longer.
And while I am on the trail of bookstores, I should mention that Falkland has one that is very good: a rare book store called Antiquarius Books, at http://antiquarius.com That is in fact where I got the second Brigade Trail booklet, but I checked his online catalogue before we went to Falkland and did not find it there. And while we are on the subject: there is another good bookstore in Hope, B.C. — called Baker’s Books. It, too, lists itself as a rare book store. So if you go shopping for old books, head to the interior of British Columbia for a wide sampling of bookstores that do not exist on the coast anymore.
The next morning, Sam started off early but I had trouble waking up, and missed him. He got home about 3 o’clock: I made it home to Victoria about 9 o’clock at night, having to wait for three ferries to get across from Vancouver to Victoria. But I enjoyed the day, and sauntered rather than rushed through all the Similkameen valley towns that I am fond of. This is, perhaps, my favourite part of exploring British Columbia.
Since coming home, I have been adding new information to the HBC Brigades book, and am even including information that the woman in Westwold gave me, if it sounds good. I have heard before that Monte Creek tended to flood in the freshets, and it is easy to check online and discover that it is still true. So, for example, I say:
In these years, the valley that Monte Creek flowed down was often flooded by the freshets, and the Brigades may have followed a different route over a saddle or through the benchlands to Monte Lake. (Paxton Creek, and its benchlands east of Monte Creek, has been suggested as a possible alternate route to Monte Lake.) Beyond Monte Lake, the Grande Prairie’s Salmon River wandered through wide marshlands, and when the freshets overflowed those marshes, the Brigades followed along the extreme northern edge of the Grande Prairie, towards its more heavily-treed eastern end. This year they made good time….
These slight detours by parallel creeks that were drier than the flooded valleys could have happened anywhere along the route, so it’s not a bad idea to sow that seed in the readers’ minds. I do the same in Summerland, where I now say… “From that crossing they followed Eneas Creek, avoiding the hazards of brush-filled streams and high water, if any, by riding on the benchlands through another back valley (Garnet Valley) to today’s Antlers Saddle. From Antlers Saddle, the trail led them down the ridge to Nicola Prairie (Summerland).”
Seeing the places I am writing about has made a real difference to the story, I think. So that’s my big chore right now: perfecting the final manuscript before submission to the editor for final editing. And it may keep me busy for a few weeks time.
So this is a kind of casual blogpost: I am just finishing the story of our visit to Summerland and the Grande Prairie, and rounding off the trip. If you want to go to the beginning of this story, go here: https://nancymargueriteanderson.com/canada-council-grant/ This will be the last post in this series, and next week I will go on to another story.
Copyright, Nancy Marguerite Anderson, 2023. All rights reserved.
- Grande Prairie