Aug 31, 2012 / 1:08 pm
There was a flurry of activity on Okanagan Lake early Friday as a group of modern day voyageurs made their way from Naramata to Penticton.
As they pulled in near the S.S. Sicamous, the canoeists lifted their paddles and shouted enthusiastically as the crowd on the beach cheered them on.
In a matter of minutes they loaded canoes on to vehicles and headed off to Skaha Lake for the final leg of their educational and exciting journey.
“The reason we do this is first and foremost is to bring attention to the importance of our waterways, and to educate people about David Thompson, our voyageur explorers and the First Nations people, ” says Rita McCreary, a paddler from Vegreville, Alberta
The Brigade Trails to Wine Trails Vernon to Okanagan Falls 2012 journey, organized by the Okanagan Brigade Society, began at the historic O’Keefe Ranch.
There, the close to 200 participants from all over the world were treated to historic storytelling as well as warm ups on Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake.
The official launch of the 15 to 20, 24 foot long voyageur canoes, with names like the Fort Saskatchewan Traders, was at the head of Okanagan Lake near Vernon on Aug. 27.
The colourful canoes then traveled down the lake to Penticton. From there it was south on Skaha to Okanagan Falls on the final day, Friday.
During the brigade, paddlers learned about the rich history of the First Nations people, the Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail and early ranching in the valley.
“It is good exercise because we paddle hard and an opportunity to draw attention to the beauty of the Okanagan,” says Gordon Kelly, an organizer from Kelowna. “At the end we pass the paddle on in anticipation of doing the Fraser River next year.”
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