Oasis Of Culture And Tranquility On Shores Of Little Shushwap
By Rosanne Slusar
Contributor toTravelink Publishing
My excursion to Quaaout Lodge Resort was a visit to an oasis of natural beauty and tranquility. It was also a journey into the heart and culture of a people - the Little Shuswap Indian Band - who own this incredible property on the shores of Little Shuswap Lake near Chase, B.C.
In the late hours of the first night, I was lured to the glowing fire in the circular-shaped 'family room' off the front entrance. I felt welcomed by the surrounding ancient cedar walls, and my spirit felt linked to women and men of a much earlier time - ancestors of the Shuswap Nation. I felt privileged to be able to drink in the warm hospitality, rich culture and serenity offered here. Native art is showcased throughout the Lodge. Majestic carvings adorn the impressive front doors. Replicas of native pictographs are displayed on the floor. Basket weaving and other native art, created by the family of Quaaout's Cultural Director, Ernie Philip, are intriguing. The room is a replica of a Kekuli, the traditional winter home of Shuswap ancestors. I reflected on how these ancient ones toiled around their fire while sewing, tanning hides and weaving baskets. Later, while touring the grounds, our host Jack MacGregor invited us to explore a real-life replica of the kekuli, and showed us the native sweat lodge where interested guests are invited to participate. My niece, Lindsay, was intrigued to learn that each pole on the teepee represented a virtue such as obedience, respect and humility.
Perched on a piece of picturesque lakeshore, Quaaout Lodge boasts a portrait of snow-capped mountains, peaceful pines, sandy beach and serenity so evident you feel you could touch it. The 2000 hours of annual sunshine is a gigantic attraction to those of us from the rainy coast. Water-skiing and other aquatic sports abound here in summer, but winter offers its own unique attractions, such as the New Years celebration that grateful guests have requested and has become an annual event.
The resort also offered six rooms with a fireplace and double Jacuzzi to lure romantics, and although our visit was to enjoy a family-style get-away, I found it tempting to relax and enjoy our room's ambience and picture perfect view. My daughter and niece had other plans. There were horses to pet, frogs to check out, and stinkbugs to be well, what would two cousins do with stinkbugs? In addition to one of Canada's largest nearby bat colonies, eagles soar and bears roam their surrounding natural playground.
On Jack's advice, we explored bike trails near the resort then visited nearby Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park for a hike and a treat of Mother Nature's celebration. Carpets of wildflowers boasted shades of yellow, white and pink. River waters were so clear we could see the bottom rock beds, and butterflies, along with singing birds, enticed us onward. My companion remembered visiting the world famous Adams River Salmon Run at this park a few years before.
That evening, Chef Don Sannachan served up a memorable 'bird in clay.' He explained that native ancestors wrapped a duck or quail in wet clay and baked it in the fire. After cooking, the clay was removed, the feathers came off easily and the meal was ready. Don baked a Cornish game hen stuffed with wild rice and garnished with locally grown wild sage and blackberries, wrapped in foil and wet clay. The most exciting part of the meal, other than eating it, was breaking open the clay with the wooden mallets.
The bird inside was moist, exquisite and served with a delectable blackberry sauce made by local native women.
Our mouthwatering desserts made us grateful we had burned off at least some of the calories earlier. My favorite was the hazelnut chocolate mousse encased in a chocolate shell and garnished with whipped cream.
Native heritage is reflected in the menu offerings of wild boar, venison, buffalo and fried traditional bannock. Don's future menu additions will feature local fish as well as salmon baked in clay.
Our walk after dinner ended our day as well as our sojourn at this peaceful retreat. The country road, lit only by a star-studded sky and moonlight reflecting off the lake seemed to sum up the natural splendor of this Quaaout experience. My daughter mused, "Carefree, that's what I call this place." We all agreed.
If You Go:
Quaaout Lodge Resort
P.O. Box 1215 Chase, B.C.
Canada VOE 1MO
Web site: www.quaaout.com
From Vancouver, take Highway #1 to Hope
From Washington, Sumas border crossing to Highway #1 to Hope
Coquihalla Highway to Kamloops
Resort is 7 km. East of Chase which is midway between Kamloops and Salmon Arm on Highway #1
Accessed via Squilax Bridge across Little South Thompson River
Regularly scheduled flights to Kamloops from Vancouver, Calgary and Seattle.
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