Everything Shuswap is just that: uncluttered writing about the 1.55 million hectare greater Shuswap watershed, showcased by 36 maps, 350+ photos, the histories of indigenous Secwepemc nations and settlers, and a watershed tour bringing all, including the geology and ecology of the Shuswap, into clear focus.
With the foreword by Alan Haig-Brown and back cover blurbs by well known British Columbians Dick Cannings, Mark Hume, and Mark Forsythe, this exceedingly useful guide to “Everything Shuswap” is a treat to read. Subtitled A Geographic Handbook, Volume 1, the promise is for two more volumes: the second to examine threats to the region caused by climate change and the third to consider what the future holds for the Shuswap.
Jim Cooperman, long-time Shuswap resident, has written this definitive guide to one of BC’s most beautiful and diverse regions. For nearly 50 years, Jim and wife Kathi have made a home in the Shuswap, raised five children and, in the process, learned to love the region’s natural and human history. Many of us know Jim as the former editor of the BC Environmental Report, as well as a frequent contributor to the Watershed Sentinel. His writing is clear and highly informative, and illustrates his appreciation of the concept of “a sense of place.”
“Shuswap” is an anglicised pronunciation of Secwepemc, Interior Salish peoples whose territories extend from “west of the Fraser River to the Rockies, and from the Okanagan to north of Williams Lake.” Jim urges us to imagine the territory before the fur traders and gold seekers arrived. He comments that in spite of over 160 years of upheaval and injustice, there is a revival of Secwepemc language and culture. What follows is a rich description of the past and present – the social and cultural lives of the people and communities of this vast and varied region gleaned from both historical sources and today’s indigenous and settler informants, generously spiced with photos and drawings.
The Shuswap is a land of diverse ecology, both horizontally and vertically, ranging from dry ponderosa pine-bunchgrass to interior rainforest ecosystems, rich farmlands, river and lake landscapes, mountains and valleys. Small glaciers in mountainous areas feed many creeks and lakes. There are also descriptions of the wildlife, including the endangered mountain caribou, a victim of multiple threats, including loss of old-growth forests.
Water, the lifeblood of all the ecosystems, flows through and connects the social and physical environments and all they contain, such as the Adams River watershed, home of one of North America’s most productive – and famous – sockeye salmon runs. Twelve individual watershed systems and sub-drainages are mapped and described, as large as the Shuswap Lake system and as comparatively small as that of Scotch Creek.
A major feature of the Shuswap is the wealth and diversity of resorts and recreational pursuits, including camping, marine, and wilderness parks, hiking, birding, river rafting, whitewater and lake kayaking, skiing, boating, and fishing. All these things and more are described in this marvellous and most useful book.
There’s yet another big bonus: buying this book helps support outdoor learning in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District #83.
Jim Cooperman, Shuswap Press
8.5” x 11” soft cover
Maggie Paquet is a biologist, activist, and writer/editor. She is a recipient of the Martha Kostuch Lifetime Achievement Award, conferred by the Canadian Environmental Network in 2010.