Recalling the winter Kalamalka Lake froze over from Vernon to Oyama

René Le Bel and his daughter Suzy, from Texas, enjoy a skate on Kal Lake Jan. 5, 2017.

VERNON - If you thought ice forming over the bay at Kal Beach was something special, imagine the entire lake freezing over and being able to skate all the way from Oyama to Vernon.

That’s exactly what happened in the 1960s when Roger Stephen, who was around 14 at the time, and some friends laced up their skates and went on an epic, classic Canadian skating trip.

“I believe it was the winter of 1964-1965, Kal froze completely over from Oyama to Vernon. We put our skates on and skated from Tween Lakes (in Oyama) to Kal Beach following Highway 97 north to Vernon. I remember there was no snow on the lake and the ice was amazing,” Stephen says.

They stayed close to shore, following the railway line. It took them three to four hours, and his mum and dad picked them up on the other side. 

“When we were younger, Kal Lake froze a lot,” he says. “That year specifically, there was not a lot of snow so we basically had clear ice all the way to Vernon.”

Stephen skated on Kal and Wood Lake often as a kid, but he only made the trek from Oyama to Vernon once.

“That was the farthest we had ever gone,” he says. “It was more of an adventure that time.”

To his knowledge, it's been many years since the entire lake froze over completely. 

Now living in Alberta, Stephen fondly remembers growing up in Oyama and especially skating on Kal Lake.

“Kal Lake has all those different colours at the waters edge, and that showed up through the ice in the wintertime too,” he says.

The bay at Kal Beach doesn’t freeze over every year, but it did this winter, prompting many to enjoy a game of shinny or a scenic skate on the lake. The story reminded Stephen of that long skate from years ago. 

“I have a lot of love for that area. We were fortunate to grow up there,” he says.

There's a long history when it comes to people skating on Kalamalka Lake. This photo from the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives shows Cathryn Simmons, Anna Fulton, Dorothy Price, Shiela Simmons and Eileen McNeil skating on Kal Lake (known as Long Lake at the time) in 1927. 

Skating on Long (Kalamalka) Lake. (left to right) Cathryn Simmons, Anna Fulton, Dorothy Price, Shiela Simmons, Eileen McNeil.
Skating on Long (Kalamalka) Lake. (left to right) Cathryn Simmons, Anna Fulton, Dorothy Price, Shiela Simmons, Eileen McNeil.
Image Credit: Image courtesy: Vernon Museum and Archives - Photo No. 19283

— This story was updated at 10:48 a.m. Jan. 10, 2017 to add a photo. 

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