Curiosity takes me to Fintry Provincial Park
In search of a waterfall flush with spring runoff, I went to Fintry Provincial Park, halfway between Kelowna and Vernon. The Shorts River, named for Thomas Shorts, one of the first white settlers in the area, runs through a canyon producing a number of waterfalls. Thomas Shorts operated a passenger and cargo boating operation on Okanagan Lake. His first boat was a 22 foot long rowboat which could travel from Penticton to Vernon in nine days. He had no set schedule, would hoist a sail if there was wind, and camped on the shore at night with his passengers.
Fintry was designated a protected area in 2001 as it is an important habitat for California bighorn sheep, Townsend’s Big eared bats (glad I didn’t see those) and the Western Grebe (all of which are vulnerable or endangered). I did see some baby birds in a hole in the side of the barn – I think they were starlings.
According to the BC Parks website, James Cameron Dunwaters purchased the property in 1909 and named it Fintry after an ancestral estate in Scotland. He erected many of the heritage buildings which currently exist, including the Manor House, made of stone quarried from the area, the very unique Octagonal Dairy Barn for his Ayrshire cattle, the Packing House, the Gatekeepers House and several farm buildings. Remnants of power generation and irrigation systems are visible along Shorts Creek. The octagonal barn and packing house are possible candidates for national historic designation underscoring their value and the importance of the park.
I climbed up past the end of the wooden stairs, following the canyon, and saw the remnants of either pathways to check on the power and irrigation system, or an abandoned aerial adventure park. Either way, I respected the KEEP OUT sign and stayed away as it looked pretty rickety (and I didn’t want to be in a precarious position).
I was happy to still see Kelowna’s official flower, the Arrowleaf Balsamroot – I thought I’d missed its spring blooming time. The plant can be used to relieve pain, aid in recovery from colds, and to treat burns, wounds, insect bites and swelling – I’ll have to remember that if I can’t make it into town.
For those who like fast driving and sharp corners, with the added excitement of bighorn sheep or deer on the road, the drive to Fintry is along Westside Road, voted in 2012 and 2013 the most dangerous road in British Columbia according to the BC Automobile Association. My partner loves it – me, not so much!! ZOOM ZOOM!