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Park History

ESTABLISHED IN 1976

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Significance

Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park protects more than 3,200 hectares (7,952 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.

Physical evidence suggests long human use of the park area. First Nation peoples likely used it as a camp during fall kokanee spawning.

Colour

Kalamalka Lake is a "marl" lake. When it warms, dissolved limestone from surrounding rocks forms calcium carbonate crystals which reflect blue-green light providing the vibrant colours we see in the summer. When the lake cools, the crystals dissolve again and the colours fade.

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Kalamalka

The origin of this name is a mystery. Some believe the name arrived with visitors from Hawaii in the late 1700’s. It may be derived from the name of an indigenous chief, who lived at the head of the lake. Early settlers called the lake, ‘Long Lake’. The Interior Salish people called the 2 lakes Kalamalka & Wood Lake together, ‘Chelootsoos’, meaning ‘Long Lake cut in the middle’. (reference: A Guide to the Natural History of Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park)

Early Settlers

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.

“...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.”

“The Journal of Lady Aberdeen: The Okanagan Valley in the Nineties”R.M. Middleton, 1986.p.49-50

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20th century to present

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.