Inaugural Okanagan Paddlefest to celebrate history

One hundred years and one day ago, Peachland hosted its last major regatta. The Okanagan Paddlefest aims to relive that history.

A Peachland team paddles a war canoe in Okanagan Lake in 1911.

A Peachland team paddles a war canoe in Okanagan Lake in 1911.

One hundred years and one days ago, Peachland hosted its last major regatta.

On Saturday, that history will be relived as the municipality hosts the inaugural Okanagan Paddlefest.

“It came together from a couple of people who wanted to commemorate the 100 years since the last full regatta in Peachland,” said Gabriele Haas, an organizer of the event.

“It started as that, but then grew into a much bigger paddling event.”

According to the event website, Peachland hosted and won its first war canoe race on Sept. 6, 1909.

The community hosted the last Peachland Regatta Aug. 7, 1913. Shortly after, many Peachland men shipped off to World War I and never returned.

Okanagan Paddlefest will remind visitors of that history with a centennial war canoe demonstration at 11:15 a.m.

“We’re using a war canoe that has been restored, it’s more than 100 years old—it actually came out of the Penticton museum,” said Haas.

“We have a crew of people who have been practicing, because it’s quite tricky. It’s very tippy and you’re on one knee.”

The crew will paddle past the Peachland cenotaph, where the names are written of those who died in the war.

The paddling festival officially begins at 7 a.m. Saturday with the popular Rattlesnake Island Swim.

“The Rattlesnake Island Swim has been going on for many years…when we were looking for a date near Aug. 7 to commemorate the 100 years, we realized Aug. 10 was the Rattlesnake Island Swim. We thought we’d try running the events together.”

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the paddling events take over, with opportunities to try out stand up paddle boards, kayaks and canoes, as well as dragon boat, kayak and stand up paddle board races.

There will also be several activities for children—including a boat-building contest and peach box races—in Swim Bay.

Haas is hoping the event will bring out more than 1,000; she also predicts it will become an annual festival.

Okanagan Paddlefest will take place on the Peachland waterfront between downtown and 13th Street. All events are free.

For a full schedule of events, or to register for stand-up paddle board or kayak races, visit

Twitter: @PatersonWade


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