The Similkameen Valley is an arid and hot place, but the Similkameen River is a portal which brings life to the lands of this beautiful region in British Columbia. This area is known more for its plentiful orchards and roadside fruit stands than its vineyards, but that seems to be changing. In fact, enRoute magazine calls it one of the “world’s five best wine regions you’ve never heard of.”
Like any agricultural endeavour, the weather is a vital factor influencing its successes and failures. The Lower Mainland of British Columbia certainly experienced a rough and challenging 2017, with extreme cold snaps, flooding, fires, high winds and the driest summer in recorded history. Despite all the extraordinary obstacles Mother Nature served up, the people persevered, and they’ve managed to produce some fine crops.
Spending a week there this summer afforded the opportunity to soak up the resilient, natural wonders and historic vibe in this area. It is a land of many portals. I’ve already painted one for Week 26, ‘Cheers!’, and I could probably devote many more weeks of this series in order to do this part of Canada justice. We visited several historic sites, including the old mining town of Hedley. We drove across the last remaining covered bridge in Western Canada, the Keremeos Red Bridge, which straddles the Similkameen River and is the gateway to Cathedral Provincial Park. We strolled leisurely through the grounds of the Grist Mill and Gardens, along with many wineries and vineyards. Each day we encountered multiple portals, providing me with an abundance of reference photos. So, don’t be too surprised to see more paintings of this gorgeous area in the future.