At one time, the lookout, as seen in the older photograph taken in late 1940s, was a full turn off parking lot located beside what was then the route of Highway 97.
In the mid 1980s, the highway was relocated to a slightly higher elevation. The upper road cut for the new highway allignment left a rock wall on the east side of the road way obscuring both the presence of the old viewpoint and its unique view of the lake and valley.
As a result, one of the most beautiful and stunning lookout vistas in B.C., along with its green and gold B.C. Milestone historical information sign, were hidden from, and seldom visited by, the throngs of tourists who raced along the improved four-lane Highway 97, oblivious to the spectacular viewpoint so close by.
It remained stranded as a little known and not well used pull-off on Kalamalka Lakeview Drive, which is the name assigned to the old highway remnants in the area. Kal Lake Lookout fell into disrepair but in 2015, the province upgraded the old lookout to a full service rest stop with the addition of new toilets, six picnic tables, new garbage and recycling bins and a number of designated parking stalls. The site was built to be wheelchair accessible and signs, indicating where to turn off the highway in order to access the rest stop amenities, were also put up.
The vistas from the common point of view for these two photos are separated by about 75 years, with the Camel’s Hump peak visible near the centre of the horizon in both images.
One can also see the housing development spreading east from Vernon in the middle left of the current photo, along with the greatly increased number of residential buildings across and up the Coldstream Valley. In particular, the homes on the western edge of the Coldstream have climbed up the slope from the lake level to just below the level of the lookout. (See lower left area in each photo.)
The B.C. Milestone sign at the Kalamalka Lookout summarizes the essential local history of Vernon and the Coldstream Valley very well. It says:
“The valley’s potential was seen by Forbes and Charles Vernon in 1863, when travelling to silver claim staking 40 miles to the east. In 1864, the brothers pre-empted across the lake 1,000 fertile acres which became Coldstream Ranch. Its products ranged from stage coach horses to vegetables and hops. At one time the ranch was Canada’s largest orchard.”
Province of British Columbia 1969
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.