KALEDEN & AREA I

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA

It’s easy to drive between Penticton and Okanagan Falls on Highway 97 and completely miss the charming community of Kaleden, roughly halfway between the two.

That’s because most of this community of nearly 1,200 people is below the highway on the slopes leading down to picturesque Skaha Lake. You have to travel off the highway to see it, but you’ll be rewarded.

Kaleden was chosen as the village’s name after a contest in 1909. It is a combination of the Greek word “kalos,” meaning beautiful, and “Eden,” the biblical garden where Adam met Eve. The contest winner was Rev. Walter Russel of Toronto, whose prize was a lot in the village.

Kaleden offers a rural lifestyle just 13 km south of the City of Penticton, with its urban amenities.

Kaleden - Kaleden FireSmart
Pioneer Park in Kaleden (Richard McGuire Photo)
St. Andrews by the Lake is a popular nine-hole golf course next to a small lake. It is south of Kaleden along White Lake Road. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Area I

Kaleden is an unincorporated community within the larger Area I of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS). Area I, which extends from the southern boundary of Penticton down to White Lake, includes a number of smaller rural communities – such as Twin Lakes and the Marron Valley off Highway 3A.

Golfers will enjoy the scenic nine-hole course at St. Andrews By-The-Lake, built around a small lake and just south of Kaleden off White Lake Road. A little farther west is the 18-hole Twin Lakes Golf Course, also in a gorgeous setting.

Skiers will love the slopes and trails at Apex Mountain Resort at the western extremity of Area I. Beaconsfield Mountain reaches 2,178 m (7,146 ft) above sea level and annual snowfall is about six metres or 20 feet.

White Lake is a small alkaline lake southwest of Kaleden that sits in a bowl of sagebrush grassland. It’s an important area for birds, mammals, and reptiles, including numerous rare species.

It’s also the location of the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, a research facility established in 1960, operated by Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics under the National Research Council of Canada. The observatory uses a combination of four radio telescopes, various metal-mesh reflector antennas, and two solid-surface dish antennas. It’s the largest radio astronomy observatory in Canada.

Kaleden

There were European settlers in the Kaleden area going back to the late 19th century, including cattle rancher Thomas Ellis, but it wasn’t until after the turn of the 20th century that the present community was established.

Between 1906 and 1909, James Ritchie bought 1,200 hectares of land that included the present settlement. His Kaleden Development Company began bringing irrigation to the area, allowing the planting of fruit trees starting in 1909. These included a variety of apricots that became known as “Kaleden Cots.”

In 1911, construction began on a 26-room, comfortable hotel built of concrete. The hotel opened in 1912, but it only ran for about two and a half years before it was “temporarily” shut down due to the start of World War I. It never reopened. Today, the concrete walls of the old hotel are a Kaleden landmark next to a small park. A plaque there commemorates Ritchie as the founder of Kaleden, as well as 19 other pioneer families who settled there and developed the community.

 

A cyclist and several pedestrians walk through a rock cut on the old Kettle Valley Railway bed, now a hiking and biking rail, between Okanagan Falls and Kaleden. (Richard McGuire Photo)

In Kaleden’s early days, water routes linked Penticton to Kaleden and Okanagan Falls. A rough road was built in 1910, following the present Pineview Drive from the north and carrying on to Okanagan Falls along the edge of the cliff by the present Old Kaleden Road.

The Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) from Midway to Hope via Penticton helped to open up the British Columbia interior in 1916. After World War I, a spur line was built between Okanagan Falls and Oliver, but freight was still carried by barge between Okanagan Falls and Penticton. In 1931, a rail connection down the western shore of Skaha Lake, through Kaleden, was opened, eliminating the need for barge service, and enabling the South Okanagan to export fruits more easily to global markets.

The tracks disappeared in 1989, but much of the old KVR is now a hiking and biking trail. The portion along the shore of Skaha Lake between Okanagan Falls and Penticton is one of the most spectacular. Some sections in Kaleden require detouring onto quiet streets.

One such section along Ponderosa Avenue takes you past the multi-use Pioneer Park, which is equipped with basketball and tennis courts, a playground, picnicking and bathing areas, and a boat launch. There’s even a little do-it-yourself bicycle repair stop with a pump and tools on cables next to Pioneer Park.

Linden Gardens in Kaleden is a sea of colour that changes through the seasons. It’s popular as a backdrop for weddings, or just a stroll in the beauty. (Richard McGuire Photo)

A visit to the blooming Linden Gardens, one of Kaleden’s main attractions, could lead a visitor to imagine they’ve been transported to the biblical Garden of Eden that gave the community its name. The privately owned gardens are full of flowers, shrubs, trees, and flowing water. The gardens are open from the beginning of May to the end of September, and they offer packages for those wanting to hold their weddings in this enchanting spot.

Kaleden Elementary School educates about 100 children from kindergarten to grade 5. The school’s different additions over the years reflect a mix of architectural styles. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Kaleden is home to several wineries. And to the north you can camp by the lake at Banbury Green RV Park and Campground. There is a small museum next to the community hall.

Kaleden Elementary School, in BC School District 67, serves about 100 students from Kindergarten through Grade 5.