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Legendary Family Fun in Kelowna, BC

In honor of this special day, here’s a fun family trivia question: What is between 35 and 50 feet long, has humps and a reptilian-like head, and lives in Lake Okanagan? If you or your kids don’t know, then it’s time to head out on a monster hunt to Kelowna, B.C.

For not only is this town of 100,000 citizens on Lake Okanagan one of the sunniest spots in Canada —over one-third of summer days feature tropical temperatures in the 30s and above—but it’s also home base for monster sightings of Ogopogo, Canada’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster.

And kids will enjoy this legend of the lake. According to the Coastal Salish peoples of long ago, the dark demon swimmer could churn the lake waters in fury; to appease him during canoe crossings, they would throw him offerings of food. When a lake ferry was introduced in 1926, the local newspaper reported that devices had been installed to repel Ogopogo’s attacks. And in the late 1930s, his ferocious face even promoted Canadian apples. The Ogopogo brand depicted a mean monster finishing off an entire Empire apple in one mouthful.

The hunt is still on for proof of his existence. Last year, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce offered a two million-dollar reward for good photographs (no one was able to claim it). This summer, a remote operating camera is exploring underwater caves. But these days, the famous lake monster is more giant puppy than slimy sea serpent. You’ll see kids watching the waters and hear them shout out at the slightest provocation of a ripple, “Is that Ogogopogo?”

No child can pass the colourful city sculpture in the lakefront park without climbing on his humps or his head. His Disney-like face adorns the local amphibious vehicle for “LarcNess MonsTour” rides around town. And his doggy-like cartoon image is found on everything from postcards to beach balls to goofy-looking hats—a kind of Anne of Green Gables of the West.

It’s not surprising, however, that Ogie has picked Lake Okanagan and the Kelowna area as his permanent address. Many Canadians are doing likewise. Because of the marvellous climate, the growth of agri-tourism and the wine industry, the opportunities for four-season recreation—from biking the Kettle Valley Railway’s Myra Canyon (with its 18 trestles and two tunnels) in spring to swimming at a string of sandy beaches in summer to flying down the mountains of Big White, Silver Star or Apex once the snow hits—and affordable accommodations, Kelowna and the towns scattered along the 85-km-long Lake Okanagan are attracting an increasing number of residents and tourists.

So if you’re planning a visit this summer with the kids to the Okanagan’s bustling hub, here’s what not to miss:

KELOWNA LAND & ORCHARD COMPANY: You might think that an orchard tour would cause serious eye-rolling and yawns. But persevere, for even your teens will find this century-old family operation of interest—especially when the orchard guides explain how they thwart the mating habits of the apple’s biggest pest, the coddling moth, or how they keep the cherries from splitting by using helicopters as giant hair dryers. Guided hay-wagon rides depart daily. For small children, there are goats, llamas and chickens. Hiking trails lead down through the provincial park. And fresh pressed apple juice is always on tap. Call 250-763-1091

19 GREENS: This family golfing centre features “Ultra Mini Golf” with 18 holes, an all-natural grass putting course and night golf under the lights. There’s a climbing wall, an X-treme Bounce attraction and an outdoor patio serving the Okanagan’s best ice cream. Call 250-769-0213.

OLD MACDONALD”S FARM: This old-fashioned amusement park boasts farm animals, a miniature train, tractors to sit on and dollar pony rides. Great for the under-eight set. Free strollers. Call 250-768-5167.

And after days of amusing the kids with such pursuits? For parents, over 50 area wineries offer tastings, food and wonderful views over the lake. Check out Mission Hill Family Estate, Summerhill Estate Winery, St. Hubertus and Quails’ Gate Estate Winery. Who knows? After a couple of full glasses of the local excellent elixir, you just might be the one to spot Ogogpogo swimming in the lake!

WHERE TO STAY: There are numerous accommodation options from the Best Western Inn with its indoor pool and under 17s stay free to Days Inn with its free breakfast or Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotel & Villas with two-story townhouses, children’s playground and a kids’ activity program.

For Kelowna tourist or hotel information, call 1-800-663-4345 or visit www.welcometokelowna.com. For BC information, call 1-800-HELLO BC or visit www.HelloBC.com.





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