One of the best ways to discover and uncover British Columbia and its cites is on foot
REGION/COUNTRY: Westcoast, British Columbia, Canada
As the Okanagan’s oldest city, Vernon is a community rife with heritage homes and historically-rich buildings. Located at the northern end of the Okanagan Valley, surrounded by Okanagan, Kalamalka and Swan lakes, the city also claims one of the largest outdoor public art galleries in Canada. Sounds like an ideal locale to have running shoes at the ready
The Vernon Mural Experience showcases 27 creations, crafted by lead artist Michelle Loughery from 1998-2003. Depicting the history, culture and folklore of Vernon, each mural weaves a rich tapestry of the city’s early days
Murals range from the Vernon Fire Brigade and Captain Shorts and the Crew of the S.S. Penticton to Ogopogo. That’s Okanagan Lake’s mysterious monster which has been sighted since the 1860s.
Guided walking tours of the murals are available in July-August, and in the off-season a tour with a “conductor” may be requested. You can also take a self-guided tour with an MP3 player, available for $2 from the Downtown Vernon Association.
With its 350 heritage homes and buildings, Nelson’s historic charm is everywhere. Situated on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake against the backdrop of the Selkirk Mountains, the city burst onto the scene in the late 1800s as a rough-and-tumble miners’ town.
Today, forestry, tourism, culture and the arts are its lifeblood. Nelson boasts a community dedicated to the area’s natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle.
A good way to set your sights on the city is by making tracks along the free Heritage Walking Tour. More than two dozen buildings are highlighted during the excursion, including the Nelson Courthouse (1909), built by F.M. Rattenbury (other noted Rattenbury designs include the BC Parliament Buildings and The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria).
Another unique bit of sightseeing awaits during the Roxanne Walking Tour. More than a dozen locales from the popular 1987 movie Roxanne are highlighted on a map, including the restored Nelson Fire Hall. But no guarantee that you’ll see Steve Martin or Darryl Hannah – although pictures of the two may be spotted around town.
Free maps for both tours are available at the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Centre. If you’re planning a trip, e-mail the Info Centre and they’ll send you one.
Whether in search of a deliciously edible adventure, or seeking an outing sure to take flight, BC’s host of walking excursions promise a bit of education and a whole lotta opportunity to explore the province’s surrounds - one step at a time.
For more information on other British Columbia destinations and travel information, call 1-800 HELLO BC® (North America) or visit www.HelloBC.com.
Tourism Victoria: www.tourismvictoria.com; 250-953-2033
Discover the Past: www.discoverthepast.com; 250-384-6698
Tourism Tofino: www.tourismtofino.com; 250-725-3414
Just Birding: www.justbirding.com; 250-725-2520
Tourism Vancouver: www.tourismvancouver.com; 604-683-2000
Edible BC: www.edible-britishcolumbia.com; 604-662-3606
Downtown Vernon Association: www.downtownvernon.org; 250-542-5851
Vernon Murals: www.vernonmurals.ca; 250-542-5851
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