“Tucked in between the rocky fastnesses of Northern British Columbia and the semi-arid bunch grass country to the south lie the pleasant valleys of the Shuswap and its tributaries, stretching from Kamloops up to Sugar Lake, and to the headwaters of the Eagle.

To those accustomed to think of British Columbia as a country of rocky canyons and snow-clad peaks, the Shuswap Country comes as a pleasant surprise. Here is a land of wide river valley and many-armed lakes, bordered by long forest-clad ridges. These ridges, in turn, are intersected by scores of smaller tributary rivers and creeks, and the summits of the higher ridges have been flattened out by glacial action to form grass-covered plateaux.”

These words, part of the forward in the book, The Shuswap Country, demonstrate the author’s ample knowledge of this region.

Erksine Burnett did the earliest form of ‘cut and paste’ to create this travelogue of his journeys through the Shuswap region from about 1937 to 1950.

Burnett was born in Scotland in 1878, immigrated to Canada in 1897 and homesteaded in Coldstream in 1908 where he set up a fruit orchard.

He travelled for business and pleasure.

He took photographs during his trips then painstakingly typed out descriptions on carbon paper to fit their spots in the album beside the numbered photographs. The carbon copies allowed him to produce more than one copy of the same book.

His colourful descriptions of the people, places, landscapes and events he encountered on his travels are a wonderful snapshot of the times.

Burnett sometimes included stories and his perspective in these descriptions, which add further detail, humour and insight to the author.

He developed his own photographs and produced two separate albums, The Shuswap Country and B.C.’s Inland Empire.

The books are essentially the same, with the former including Kamloops, Revelstoke, Sicamous, Mabel Lake and Sugar Lake, and the latter including both the Shuswap and Okanagan areas.

Burnett made 80 of the scrapbooks, which he likely gave to family, friends and his fruit customers.

The Enderby & District Museum & Archives is the proud caretaker of both books, donated by the Vernon Museum in October 1990.

Salmon Arm author Jim Cooperman discovered the books in his historical research travels and became intrigued with The Shuswap Country.

Seeing the value in disseminating the historical information and photographs to a broader audience, Cooperman began fundraising to have the book published.

His project has come to fruition and the book is expected to be launched this month at the RJ Haney Heritage Village & Museum. Burnett’s grandson Gerry Parkinson, the son of his daughter Frances, is expected to be in attendance.

The books are being donated to museums within the Shuswap as a fundraising tool. Thanks go to the book’s sponsors: Community Futures Shuswap, CSRD, RDNO, SASCU, Askew’s, W.H. Laird Holdings Ltd., Darroch Investments and Landmark.

The book is available at area museums and in local book stores for $25.

Reprinted with permission
Enderby & District Museum & Archives