Sicamous wanted for cultural corridor

Shared narrative: Parks Canada wants joint tourism strategy.

Parks Canada is hoping to partner with the District of Sicamous to establish a cultural corridor along the Trans-Canada from the Shuswap through to Field.

This concept was presented to council at an October committee of the whole meeting by parks superintendent Karen Tierney, who recognized Sicamous as part of a shared narrative unique to the area.

“One of the things we feel the area has in common is really a unique story, a story that we share collectively, a unique landscape, and it’s very much centered around the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, connecting all the way from Field on one end… to Sicamous on the other end,” said Tierney.

Tierney referred to Sicamous as being the western gateway to the corridor. She said the goal is to capture the four-million travellers who pass through that gateway annually.

“We realize the visitors to this area, they actually travel through this whole corridor in about four hours and, ideally, we would like them to spend four days or more,” said Tierney. “And there’s potential to make that happen by looking collectively at what we offer… and the experiences that we can create for them.”

Examples of stories told along the corridor include an avalanche in Rogers Pass in 1910 that claimed the lives of 58 Japanese workers who are buried in Vancouver, and the completion of the railway with the last spike in Craigallechie.

Asked for ideas, Mayor Malcolm MacLeod noted the heritage train ride on the 125th anniversary of the last spike. He suggested such a train run in the summer.

“If that could be something that happened during the summer for tourism, I think that would be phenomenal,” said MacLeod. “I know it would be difficult to work with the rail line and what have you, but if there could be a set schedule that could run back and forth, you would get all kinds of people.”

Coun. Fred Busch wondered what opportunities there might be to recognize the important role sternwheelers played in the area. He also said he would like to see some place where local First Nations could be acknowledged and their history displayed.

Tierney said there are some things Parks might be able to do to help with some projects, while for others she said there is an “amazing number of places we can go and look for resources.”

The presentation to council served as an initial consultation, and council was favourable to the partnership. MacLeod ended the discussion with a comment on the highway through Parks’ jurisdiction, noting it would help with tourism if it was kept in top-notch condition.