Our quest begins in British Columbia, the western-most province of Canada. Tomorrow, we will leave Metro Vancouver for points east, taking a highway that has the coolest name: Crowsnest. After leaving the Fraser Valley, we will ascend until we are in Manning Park, after which we will pass through historic mining areas before entering the Okanagan, land of Ogopogo, our ‘Lochness monster.’ At Osyoyoos, we’ll drop down into the United States. This is our favorite route for entering the U.S. Yes, it does take a bit longer, but it is the most scenic. Crossing the borders around Vancouver would be very annoying just now. With the U.S. dollar weaker than the Canadian dollar, Canucks are flooding the border towns. So, we prefer to head east, to drive through the mountains and fruit and vineyard-growing areas of BC before dropping down of the US of A.
To begin our Pottery Travelogue, I’ll start with our own dear, sweet Port Moody Arts Centre, where I spend many an hour and which I write about in my Open Studio Updates. We, then, head east on the Trans-Canada Highway, Highway 1, which, indeed, spans the whole country. A very long road… Close to the start of our trip, we cross the mighty Fraser River, then enter a long, wide valley. Chilliwack, where we lived for seven years, had a small ceramic studio run by the city when I lived there and it was in that studio that I threw my last pot. Since then, I have been a hand-builder, as I sustained an injury that caused me to leave the ranks of the potters and join the ceramists full-time. The city has a new studio now, which I’m happy to hear about. Goody! From here, our journey takes us through Hope, a tiny town at the base of a big mountain. According to local sources, pottery is taught in town through the Art Machine. From Hope, we start gaining elevation and pass through some of the most beautiful terrain, Manning Park. Once we start descending, we come across Hedley, BC, an old mining town nestled in a beautiful draw. The largest town in the area and the one that would probably have a ceramics studio is Princeton, a modern mining town, which has an open-pit copper mine rivalled only by Butte Montana’s Berkeley Pit. Princeton’s Potters Guild and Community Clay Studio was started by Susan Delatour LePoidevin. From here, we continue to cut across southern BC on Highway 1 and enter a renowned fruit-growing area and home to most BC wineries, the Okanagan. Before we reach the Okanagan Valley proper, with its beautiful chain of lakes, we cross through my favorite area, the land around Keremeos and Cathedral Provincial Park. There is a little border crossing close
by called Nighthawk. I’d like to pass through it because the scenery must by gorgeous, but we have always dropped down through Osoyoos, south of the better-known towns of Kelowna and Pentiction. Osoyoos is very desertous and scorching hot in the summer. Luckily, one can get out of the car and take a dip in Osoyoos Lake as one passes through town. I’ve done this and it is very inviting… It also looks like the town’s Painters and Potters Club is a going concern. From what I can tell, pottery is alive and well in southwest BC!