Central Okanagan Regional District asking for $100,000 to restore historic fur trader trail

A cyclist at the Fur Brigade Linear Park between Peachland and Summerland, 400 metres above Okanagan Lake.
Image Credit: ET2media, Summerland

PEACHLAND – An Okanagan trail that was used hundreds and even thousands of years ago is about to get a new life as a hiking trail.

The Fur Brigade Trail is 3.5 kilometres of broken, uneven pathway running between Summerland and Peachland. Thousands of years ago it was cut by First Nations people, and 200 years ago during the gold rush, traders used it to bring goods to and from the Coast and trappers working on behalf of the Hudson’s Bay Company to sell their pelts.

Ranchers used the trail to drive cattle 120 years ago as well.

Since then the trail has been rarely used or thought of until late last year when the Summerland Trans Canada Trail Society merged with the Trail of the Okanagans Society. The two groups have since been actively trying to restore a 250 km path from Ososyoos to Sicamous. 

That includes the Fur Brigade Trail.

Last Thursday, directors of the Central Okanagan Regional District agreed to file a request with the province for a Licence of Occupation to get tenure over the key section between Summerland and Peachland into a park.

President of the Trails of the Okanagan Society Henry Sielmann says although their working number is significantly less, they expect it will cost $100,000 to bring that section of the trail up to standard.

“The Parks department of CORD want to have a maximum number so they don’t have to come back and ask for more,” he says “But our number was quite a bit less.”

Sielmann wouldn’t speculate on when work on the trail could begin or end, but says he believes there is a “high likelihood” it will happen eventually.

“This is the very first step required.”

The Society will have to wait until the end of March, however before finding out Regional District budget availability, but in the meantime they are looking forward to the day when the Fur Brigade Trail’s new life can begin.

“The good will is tremendous,” he says. “There is so much momentum. We’re optimistic.”

A new illustration of the planned recreational lakeside trail between Summerland Lower Town and Trout Creek.
A new illustration of the planned recreational lakeside trail between Summerland Lower Town and Trout Creek.
Image Credit: Facebook/The Trail Of The Okanagans

- This story was corrected at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 19, 2017 to clarify that the RDCO are filing for tenure of the trail.

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