Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park protects more than 3,700 hectares (9,140 acres) of North Okanagan grasslands, as well as cliff and wetland habitats. It is home to a number of endangered or threatened plant and animal species. It is one of the few publicly-owned examples of the rapidly disappearing natural grasslands that once stretched from Vernon to Osoyoos.
Kalamalka Lake is a “marl” lake. When the lake warms in the summer, dissolved limestone crystallizes, giving the lake a distinctive blue and green hue. When the lake cools, the limestone crystals disappear along with the characteristic colour.
Physical evidence suggests long human use of the park area. First Nation peoples likely used it as a camp during fall kokanee spawning.
In 1893 Cornelius Cosens obtained land in the Cosens Bay area. Later it became part of Lord Aberdeen’s Coldstream Ranch and was used for grazing cattle.
“The Journal of Lady Aberdeen: The Okanagan Valley in the Nineties”
R.M. Middleton, 1986.
“...Lord Aberdeen...was still willing to buy another 315 acres to extend his property to Kalamalka Lake. It was called Kalamalka Ranch and was owned by Price Ellison, an early settler and landowner in the district who later became a member of the provincial cabinet. The land stretched from the Coldstream Creek up the south side of the valley and along a narrow peninsula that entered the lake.
“The land was, in due course, purchased and it was decided that the Aberdeen’s residence would be built upon it, presumably on a site on the slope leading towards Rattlesnake Point. The Aberdeens never lived there, but the property was given to Coutts Marjoribanks. He left the Coldstream Ranch in 1895... If memory serves correctly it was abandoned in the Thirties, but purchased in the Forties by the late Dolph Browne, a fruit shipper. The house burned down on March 1, 1957. The land is now a subdivision.”
During World War II the area was used as a Commando Training Area. After the war, cattle grazing resumed.
When population pressures in the Vernon area brought the threat of development, local people successfully lobbied the province to purchase the property. This was achieved in 1975.
In 1986 the park officially opened, welcoming the public to enjoy its network of trails and several beaches.
Cosens Bay Beach
marl effect at Jade and Juniper Bays
Long Lake, the earlier name of Kalamalka Lake
The lake was called “Chelootsoos”, meaning ‘long lake cut in the middle’, by the Interior Salish Indians. Early settlers called it “Long Lake” for many years. (reference: A Guide to the Natural History of Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park)