The third week in February has been designated Heritage Week.
This year Canadians are encouraged to celebrate their rich and diverse heritage by commemorating distinctive historic destinations in their communities.
Summerland has many historic artifacts and destinations marked and preserved for us.
The Summerland Museum and Heritage Society have preserved the rich history of our town through the many indoor and outdoor exhibits on display at the museum. For those unable to visit the museum in person, their website features a brief history of Summerland and a photo gallery of these exhibits.
Heritage sites with signage in Summerland include, the Priest Camp, Millionaires’ Row, Granite City Wagon Trail, Aeneas Creek, Lower Town, Centennial Trail, Brigade Trail and Peach Orchard Cemetery.
A list of heritage buildings and trees can be viewed on the District of Summerland’s website. The Bank of Montreal, St. Stephen’s Anglican Church and the Lakeside Presbyterian Church are among those listed.
One popular heritage destination to visit is the Trout Creek Bridge on Canyon View Road. It spans the Trout Creek Canyon and was built in 1913, being one of the largest steel girder bridges of its kind in North America.
On the other side of the canyon is what use to be called the Dominion Experimental farm, which was established in 1914 to assist the fruit industry. Now called the Pacific Agri-Food Research Station, the lawns and gardens are open to the public and are tended by the Friends of the Gardens Society.
Summerland also has several historic parks.
The Priest Camp Historic Park is a 50 acre park on the shores of Garnett Lake. It was the first non-native settlement in the Okanagan Valley and was first identified on maps in 1846.
Extending from the Priest Camp to the northern boundary of Summerland is the Okanagan Fur Brigade Linear Park. It was created for Summerland’s Centennial in 2006. This 4.1 kilometre linear park follows a trail that is estimated to be 6,000 years old. It was first used by the Interior Salish peoples, who were hunters and gatherers.
Fur traders trekked the Brigade Trail through the Okanagan Valley from 1812 to 1846 and later it became a thoroughfare for miners and cattle drivers heading to the Cariboo Gold Rush, in the 1860’s. This trail also leads to the Lone Tree Lookout, which offers one of the most spectacular views of Okanagan Lake.
Summerland is also privileged enough to have the only preserved portion of the Kettle Valley Steam Railway. The line was engineered by Andrew McCulloch, who was hired to build the 500-kilometre line of rail for the Canadian Pacific Railway. This Coast to Kootenay connection went over and through three mountain ranges.
Historian and author Joe Smuin, will give a talk on the centennial of the Kettle Valley Railway, with a question and answer period to follow, this Saturday at 2 p.m. The presentation is being sponsored by the Summerland Heritage Advisory Commission and will be held in the basement of the old library building on Wharton Street.
Some of those who have been long-time residents of Summerland or those who grew up here, bemoan the fact that we have lost many of our historic buildings over the years.
The “House on the Hill” and MacDonald School are the two most often mentioned.
While these have been lost, we can treasure those sites we still have and work hard to keep them for future generations.
We in Summerland have many historic places to visit, thanks to the many people who have worked so hard to preserve them for our enjoyment.
Heritage Week is a great opportunity for us to celebrate these historic treasures and perhaps take time to visit these special sites.