The Westbank Museum is looking to add a landmark to West Kelowna.
The museum is working on what it has dubbed a ‘Front Porch’ project that would feature a new sculpture facing south at the Highway 97A couplet. The project has been underway for the past two years, and would feature an approximately nine-foot tall sculpture of a fur trader, his pack horse, and a First Nations man and woman.
“We are right on the fur trade trail,” described museum vice president Poppy Angus. “We wanted to represent that. We have a lot of people that ask us about the fur trader’s trail. They want to walk it, so the interest was there.”
Museum president Gordon Ficke noted without the trails that had already existed for over 1,000 years, there would be no Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail. He explained creating the sculpture not only furthers interest in the historical trails, but it also allows them to tell the story of what was. The museum wanted to tie First Nations and themselves together with fur trading, and to make sure it was done properly they consulted with Westbank First Nation on the design of the sculpture.
“The trees may or may not be included,” Angus explained of the initial concept. “They were just to beef up the maquette at the moment, but they look nice. We’re hoping maybe we can add to that story by planting some indigenous plants around the statue.”
Angus and Ficke are optimistic the sculpture can not only become a way of welcoming people to West Kelowna, but will also serve as a draw for tourists. Although the statue has a projected budget of roughly $400,000, the museum will not be seeking financial assistance from the City of West Kelowna. Ficke explained they plan to raise all of the money over a two year period, and they are hopeful the community will get behind the project and support it.
Currently, the museum is attempting to line up a meeting with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, as they own the land along the 97A couplet.