Discovering Naramata, British Columbia: A Blend of History and Tourism
Naramata, an unincorporated community in the Okanagan region of south central British Columbia, is a hidden gem nestled on the eastern shore of southern Okanagan Lake. Just a 15-kilometre drive north of Penticton, Naramata offers a rich history and a vibrant tourism scene.
The Origin of the Name: Naramata, British Columbia
The name "Naramata" has an intriguing history. In November 1906, John Moore Robinson purchased land in the area, which was initially known as Nine Mile Point. Over the next nine months, the name evolved from East Summerland to Brighton Beach, before finally settling on Naramata. Robinson, a spiritualist, claimed the name was revealed during a séance. While it's believed that the name Naramata may derive from a First Nations word or an Australian Aboriginal term, there is no concrete evidence to support this.
The First Nations of Naramata, British Columbia
The Syilx people, the indigenous inhabitants of the area, refer to Naramata as "Citxws Peqlqin," or "Eagle's House." The Naramata bench was a seasonal campsite for the Syilx, where they hunted elk and gathered food.
The Early Community of Naramata, British Columbia
Robinson played a significant role in shaping Naramata's early community. He sold parcels of land to people from other parts of Canada and the British Isles, transforming Naramata into a cultural hub. People from across the Okanagan would arrive by boat for concerts, plays, operas, regattas, and even séances, as Robinson and his wife were spiritualists. Paddlewheelers regularly stopped at the local wharf, carrying freight and passengers up and down Lake Okanagan.
The Ferry Service of Naramata, British Columbia
In March 1908, an east-west Summerland-East Summerland charter ferry service began. However, the first two operators were unsatisfactory, leading to the Summerland Trust Co. taking over in October. In 1911, the Okanagan Lake Boat Co. implemented a run via Penticton. Despite the name change to Naramata, the 1913 tender charter continued to refer to the locality as East Summerland. The service ceased in July 1926.
The Railway Connection in Naramata, British Columbia
Naramata's connection to the rest of Canada was strengthened in 1914 with the completion of the Kettle Valley Railway on the hillside above the village. The intense volume of rock work earned it the reputation as one of the most challenging stretches of KVR construction. The railway remained operational until 1974. Today, remnants of the KVR, such as the train tunnels, rock ovens, and the railway right-of-way, offer great exploration opportunities. The railway right-of-way, which clings to the hillside high above the lake, is now part of the Trans-Canada Trail.
The Climate of Naramata, British Columbia
Naramata boasts a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk), making it an ideal destination for those seeking a warm, dry vacation spot.