Peach Fest to host War Canoe Regatta

The third annual Ogopogo War Canoe Regatta is bringing some exciting action to Okanagan Lake.

The Penticton Museum and Archives has announced the third annual Ogopogo War Canoe Regatta that will take place during the Penticton Peach Festival.

The War Canoe Regatta was first held two years ago to commemorate earlier regattas and to showcase the museum’s collection of two restored war canoes.

“Penticton has a long history of hosting regatta events,” said Dennis Oomen, one of the event organizer’s and museum curator. “Along with other communities around the lake, the summer was time for aquatic sports and festivities. From the early 1900s lakeside communities such as Kelowna, Summerland, Peachland and Penticton organized a variety of well attended regatta events.”

War canoe races were an important part of regatta events. Male and female crews would compete for the prestigious Robinson Cup. As the years went by the war canoe races were held less frequently and by the 1960s were no longer a regular feature of regatta events.

The war canoes were a hybrid design, incorporating features of the large sea-faring canoes of the west coast and the wood-strip canoes of eastern Canada. Their large size, up to 30 feet long, meant that teams of up to 15 could participate.  The museum’s two war canoes were restored in 2014 by volunteers and school groups.

This year the museum will hold war canoe races on the beach at Okanagan Lake Park on Sunday, Aug. 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., every hour on the hour. Anyone can join up to race and paddle a war canoe, which carry between six and eight paddlers. Life jackets will be provided and a course will be laid out.

“We are keeping things very simple … all you have to do is show up and race. The fee is $5 for adults and $3 for children. People have a great time because paddling a war canoe is not easy and there are always some spills and lots of laughs. It’s great when family groups and friends compete as well,” said Oomen.

The war canoe races will be co-ordinated by Lyndie Hill of Hoodoo Adventures. Paddle boards and kayaks will be available as well. The Penticton Peach Festival takes place Aug. 3 to 7. For more information on all the entertainment visit www.peachfest.com.