A Second Look at Vernon and the Coldstream Valley, late 1940s and 2023

Coldstream Valley revisited

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.

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About the Author

Terry W. Robertson received a bachelor of science degree in geology from UBC in 1970. His studies included physical geography, surveying and air-photo interpretation. Subsequently, he worked in petroleum exploration, initially based in Calgary and from 1978 to 1988 as an independent geological consultant working from his home the Okanagan.

In 1988, he left the oil industry and participated in the start-up and development of several small businesses in Lake Country, including a travel agency and a community newspaper which he edited and published from 1996 to 2003. With two children in local schools at the time and with a passion for politics, Terry was elected as the Lake Country trustee on the Central Okanagan School Board from 1990 to 2002.

He remains interested in politics and was an active supporter of the “Yes” side in the 2018 B.C. referendum on Proportional Representation. He enjoys getting outdoors, as well as travelling and exploring historic sites and museums. In addition, he likes to write about politics, history and geography.

Terry is interested in obtaining old (pre 1970)  photos of landscapes, street scenes or images of prominent structures from the Okanagan or Thompson region. If you possess any such images that you would permit him to copy and use in a future column, or have any comments about his column, please email him at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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