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The Shuswap BeadTrail

Published July 7th, 2019

Recent archeological excavations suggest that in 1649 A.D., well before Europeans settled the region, thousands of Indigenous people lived where Little Shuswap and the mighty Thompson formed a trade route to the west coast. The BeadTrail is akin to a travellers trade route, leading visitors to a collection of experiences that share the stories of the region.

With increased global awareness of responsible tourism, experiences that connect the world through sustainable practices are promoting slow travel that encourages us to make memories while preserving the land for future generations to discover.

Indigenous culture

A visit to Quaaout Lodge offers a glimpse into the rich Indigenous heritage of the Secwepemc Nation. Guided tours, a drum making class, and informative paddle to nearby pictographs provide a unique and spiritual experience. At the property, you can visit the kekuli (indigenous winter home) and sweat lodges, try your hand at archery or learn to basketweave as you discover the culture of a people.

This is the perfect place to overnight if you are planning to stay in the area. There is an abundance of hiking and biking trails, swimming, spa, as well as an acclaimed restaurant and golf course on-site.

Be sure to stop in at Little Bear Gift Shop and Gallery to check out their custom bead and thoughtful selection of authentic Indigenous art, clothing, and crafts.

Sockeye Running

Also located on Secwepemc lands is Ts`utswecw Provincial Park, formerly known as Roderick Haig-Brown Park, one of the most important sockeye salmon breeding areas in the world.

The biggest salmon event, the R Sqleltenuw̓i ne r Secwepemculecw - Salute to Sockeye takes place in dominant salmon years with the next event occurring in 2022. The Adams River Salmon Run takes place between September 28th and October 31st every year but any time is a good time to visit the Park to partake in educational guided tours.

Revenue from the sale of The Adams River Salmon Society bead allows the charity to continue its work protecting the Sockeye and their environment.

Making a Difference

Just off Highway 1, on Skimikin Road, you’ll find the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge. Charming equine refugees can be found peering curiously through an aging wooden fence waiting for a well-placed scratch. Abused and abandoned donkeys, mules and ninnies live at the Refuge where they roam the property sharing the valley with their larger than life neighbors at the Turtle Valley Bison Farm.

The Refuge charges a minimum fee for an educational introduction and overview of how and why the sanctuary came to be. After familiarizing oneself with the history of the Refuge, visitors are invited to partake in a self-guided tour, and the opportunity to tickle the ears of these lovable creatures.

Many members of the Beadtrails are not-for-profit organizations doing good in their community. The Refuge is another organization that also relies on the sale of their bead to attract visitors and fund operations.

A Vintage Village

The Village of Chase is the only community in Canada where golf carts are licensed to roam the streets alongside pick-ups, the occasional tractor, and wayward donkey. If you have a moment stop in at the Chase Visitor Centre.

While in the area be sure to use our interactive map to find hidden gems like the Squilax General Store and Hostel. The store supports the Slow Food Movement which honors organic production and sustainable farming practices, serving High Tea and gluten-free food options.

You can book a Caboose Railcar to stay in. Each railcar sleeps six, has its own kitchen, sitting area and toilet. Situated alongside the water at the base of Squilax Mountain amenities include an outdoor kitchen, BBQ, campfire pit, wharf, free use of a canoe, herb garden and of course, grocery store.

Picnic and Wine Finds

The Shuswap is a land of experiences where new adventures wait to be discovered. So much more than a houseboating destination visitors can partake in epic hikes, wine tastings, and vineyard picnics. Recluse Wines Vineyard and Winery, situated close to the 50th parallel, serves as the perfect picnic destination.

If beer is more to your liking you can stop in at Eagle Bay Mercantile to source the coldest suds in the Shuswap along with snacks and a bead to remember your stay. Whatever your fancy, there are plenty of beads and an abundance of authentic experiences awaiting you on the Shuswap Beadtrail.

Tips for Travellers

  1. Need a place to dock your boat as you explore over 1,000 miles of pristine coastline on Shuswap Lake check out Captains Village Marina. Reserve in advance.
  2. Stock up on items to supplement your stay in the Shuswap at Safety Mart Foods in the Village of Chase.
  3. Click here to explore connected tours and discover nearby BeadTrails.
  4. We’d love to know what you thought of your experience, tag #onthebeadtrails on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Safe travels memory makers.