Surrounded by mountains, lakes and beautiful scenery in the sunny Okanagan Valley, Lake Country is a municipality comprised of four communities; Winfield, Okanagan Centre, Oyama, and Carr’s Landing, all located on the benches above Okanagan Lake and Wood Lake.
Incorporated in June 1995, Lake Country is the heart of the Okanagan, with an abundance of sun, water, mountains, and friendly people.
The Lake Country area offers much to see and do, and has a large agricultural base, with abundant fruit orchards, some of which have been in existence since the early 1900s. Lake Country calls itself the Apple Capital of Canada, producing over 35% of all apples grown in Canada. Grape growing for wine making is another important agricultural activity.
The warm, dry climate of the Okanagan valley provides great recreational opportunities, including fishing, hiking, sailing, swimming, paddling and all water-borne activities.
The Okanagan Valley is renowned for its many orchards of apples, cherries, apricots, pears, and peaches, supplying the people of Lake Country with fresh fruit and vegetables. The winery industry is constantly growing, and Lake Country’s very own Gray Monk Winery provides a variety of world-class wines to suit every taste!
First Nations people called the Lake Country area K’lakokum, meaning the “the land between”. Lake Country enjoys a rich culture and history. Pioneers of the area established orcharding, ranching, logging, irrigation, and lake travel. The settlers built their homes and made a way of life for themselves in this radiant area. Orchards, agriculture and ranching are still a huge part of the area’s way of life, as evidenced on any drive through Lake Country.
Location: Lake Country is located in the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, between the cities of Vernon (18 miles/29km) and Kelowna (16 miles/25km). Access is via Highway 97, which runs from Osoyoos on the Canada/United States border to Vernon and beyond to Kamloops.
The largest community by population, and the commercial centre of the Lake Country area, Winfield is the southernmost of the Lake Country towns, located 14 miles (22 km) north of Kelowna. Winfield was named after Winfield Lodge, the homestead of pioneer Thomas Wood, the first settler in the area.
Okanagan Centre was once a city but is now a residential community that lines Okanagan Lake, offering a convenient boat launch. The Lake Country Museum in Okanagan Centre displays over 3,000 artifacts depicting the history and heritage of the local community, commencing with the early settlement days. On display is an old fire engine from the Winfield Fire Department, plus farm machinery and tools, organs, phonographs, cameras, and much more. The museum is situated in Okanagan Centre Park, near the lake, and is open mid-May to September, Wednesday to Sunday, 9am to 4pm. Admission is free.
Oyama has strong agricultural roots and is nestled between Wood Lake to the south and Kalamalka Lake to the north. This community of over 1,000 on the eastern side of highway 97 is named after a Japanese field marshal, Prince Iwao Oyama (1842-1916), who fought in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905. Golfers can tee off at the 18-hole Predator Ridge Golf Resort, 9 km north of Oyama. Kalamalka Lake Viewpoint, 8 km north of Oyama, provides great views of Kalamalka Lake and the Coldstream Valley.
Located along Okanagan Lake, Carr’s landing provides a spectacular view of Okanagan Lake and the surrounding orchards, and is home to Gibson House in Kopje Regional Park, a 1912 heritage home now housing a museum. Carrs Landing is named after pioneer Andy Carr.
Wineries: Nearly three dozen wineries operate in the Okanagan Valley, from Osoyoos in the south to Vernon in the north. Some have tasting rooms, and most are open during summer and through the wine crush in September. Lake Country has its very own winery, the Gray Monk Estate Winery, located on Okanagan Centre and open year round.
Wineries in the Okanagan Valley
Artwalk at the Lake Country Community Complex in Winfield in mid September is a unique two-day art event featuring an art exhibit, food venues, musical entertainment, audio visual experience and a live theatrical performance in the Creekside Theatre. This display of works by valley artists attracts over 5,000 visitors annually.
Ogopogo: Search for the elusive relative of the Loch Ness Monster, reputed to inhabit the waters of Okanagan Lake. Said to be a friendly serpent-like creature, a two million dollar reward is being offered for anyone who can prove that the famous legend of Ogopogo is real. A replica of the mythological creature awaits divers at a depth of 25 feet (8 metres) at Paul’s Tomb in the Knox Mountain Nature Park in Kelowna.
The heritage Gibson House was built by George Gibson in 1912. Originally built for his bride, the house was eventually sold and run as a camp for troubled youth, then used as a Vernon Cadets training site, before again becoming a family home. Restored to its original design, the lovely old home is now a museum in Kopje Regional Park on Carrs Landing Road. Inside the house are historical artifacts, while outside there is a beach, a swimming area, a pleasant park, and a playground. Gibson House is open from June-August, Friday-Sunday, from 1pm-2:30pm.
Fishing: The group of lovely lakes east of Lake Country, accessed on the Beaver Lake and Dee Lake Roads has long been recognized as one of British Columbia’s finest fishing grounds. Set like pearls in the midst of wooded hills of great beauty, and connected by waterways and trails, this group of 20 lakes or more is well stocked with real fighting Kamloops trout. Top among the lakes are Dee Lake, Island Lake, Deer Lake and Crooked Lake. A recreation site, boat launch and campground are located at Island Lake, with a boat launch at Dee Lake, which boasts the largest rainbow trout, to 2 kg. In addition to good fishing in the larger lakes mentioned below, fishing is also good at Ellison Provincial Park on Okanagan Lake.
Recreational Lakes in the area include Duck Lake, Wood Lake, Kalamalka Lake, and Okanagan Lake. Wood Lake, between Oyama and Winfield has a solid reputation for Kokanee and rainbow trout fishing, and is named after Tom Wood, who settled on the south end of the lake around 1860. Kalamalka Lake, north of Oyama, is named after the Indian Chief Kalamalka, who lived on the lake. Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park on the northeast shore provides good hiking and birdwatching.
Diving: Otter Bay in Ellison Provincial Park, just a few miles north of Carr’s Landing, is the site of western Canada’s first freshwater scuba-diving and snorkelling park. A number of objects have been sunk here to attract a variety of fish and other lake-dwelling creatures.
Skiing: Lake Country is perfectly located between two major ski areas; Big White Ski Resort, approximately 40 miles (64 km) southeast of Kelowna, and Silver Star Mountain Resort, 14 miles (22 km) northeast of Vernon.
Okanagan Lake: Dozens of parks surround Okanagan Lake, an outdoor adventure playground where the only difficulty is deciding what to do with your time. There are three developed beaches, marine campsites, mooring buoys and numerous hiking trails around the 70-mile-long (113-km) Okanagan Lake.
Reiswig Regional Park on Woodsdale Road south of Wood Lake offers a swim area, picnic area and playing field.
Kaloya Regional Park on Trask Road (off Oyama Road) on the southern shore of Kalamalka Lake, provides a swim area, covered picnic area, walking trails, lily pond, playground, and boat beach.
If you’re looking for a short break from the central Okanagan’s summer heat, Bear Creek Provincial Park may be the place to visit for easy camping and picnics. Located south of Winfield on the west shore of Okanagan Lake, the park offers everything from beautiful beaches to a wild, rocky canyon.
Fintry Provincial Park is also located on the west side of Okanagan Lake. Easy walking through the park will bring you to the waterfalls and deep pools of Shorts Creek, as well as a suspension bridge and the remains of irrigation and power generation structures. Other features from the past are a ferry wharf from which freight boats operated, and a preserved Manor house, caretakers’ house, and several barns.
The rocky, forested headlands and sheltered, sandy bays of small Ellison Provincial Park await you on the east side of Okanagan Lake, just a few miles north of Carr’s Landing. Walking trails provide access to the headlands that separate two beautiful bays, offering boulder-climbing excitement and wildflower photo opportunities. The bays are good fishing spots.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on Okanagan and Kootenay Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through the Southern Okanagan, starting and ending your sun-drenched voyage in Osoyoos, the place where two lakes come together. Circle Tours in British Columbia.