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The Shuswap

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Some 60km north of Vernon along Hwy-97A, you arrive in the Shuswap, a photogenic region of gently sloping mountains, tranquil lakes and sandy beaches. The scenic lakeside city of SALMON ARM, the largest of the area’s pretty resorts, is at the heart of the Shuswap region, whose centrepiece is Shuswap Lake. Taking its name from a mispronunciation of the Secwepemc Nation, who encompass 17 bands in BC’s interior, the region and lake offer 1000km of shoreline and 32 provincial parks, making them ideal for fishing, swimming, waterskiing, paddling or houseboating. The area has a small but impressive wine-growing region specializing in cool-climate whites, especially Ortega. Birdwatching is another local draw, as the bay in Shuswap Lake is one of the world’s last nesting areas of the western grebe. But the main attraction is the spectacle of the annual migrations of spawning salmon every October; Salmon Arm was named for an era when it was possible to spear salmon straight from the lake, and fish were so plentiful that they were shovelled onto the land as fertilizer. Salmon spawn and die in four-year cycles; in dominant years (the next is 2018) up to two million fish brave the run from the Pacific up to their birthplace in the Adams River, a tributary of the mighty Fraser River, though there’s a huge variability in numbers in other years. During spawning time, people also migrate here – around 250,000 visitors come during the peak week.

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