On Saturday evening at the IOOF Hall, Summerland celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail.
This trail was the primary transportation route of people and trade goods through the Okanagan Valley.
Archaeological evidence indicates that this trail was used for at least 6,000 years. The trail extended from Fort Okanagan at the junction of the Okanagan and Columbia Rivers, north to Fort Alexandria, just north of present day Quesnel.
Summerland is the only community that has preserved an encampment site (Priest Camp Historic Park) and a section of the original trail (Okanagan Fur Brigade Linear Park).
The evening began with an expression of gratitude especially to Sharon Stone, Rebekah Lodge, the Community Cultural Committee, the Museum and Heritage Society and the District of Summerland for working together to produce Summerland’s newest mural at the IOOF Hall.
Artist Larry Hunter was also thanked for producing one of the most accurate depictions of life along the Brigade Trail.
Summerland’s latest historic interpretive sign was displayed. This sign, courtesy of Anne O’Grady of Magpye Productions shows the Brigade Trail, the settlement of Priest and Nicola Prairie (Summerland) in 1850.
Speakers during the evening were Osoyoos curator Ken Favrholdt and former Penticton curator Randy Manuel. They described some of the more interesting aspects of the Brigade Trail.
One of the most important early fur traders was Alexander Ross.
Bob Hamilton of Summerland is Ross’s great-great-great-grandson. Hamilton gave an extremely entertaining description of Alexander Ross’s life. Hamilton also showed the group the Bible Ross used when he was stationed at Fort Okanogan in 1811.