Kamloops at 200: Looking for the big city

As is popular today, I had been spending my evenings chatting with strangers online sharing my dreams and plans.

One night, I was sharing my goal of discovering “the city” for me.

He said: “What about Kamloops?”

I had already chosen other cities, so quietly disregarded the suggestion.

His parting comment: “Watch for signs Peace always.”

Feeling the pull of adventure, my quest began by reading Who’s Your City by Richard Florida and, within those pages, I received confirmation there was a place that would be a perfect fit for my values, personality and interests.

I had decided I was not prepared to leave the northwest, so my choices for further exploration were Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.

But, more was revealed when my daughter said I had better find a city small enough that I can be out in nature within 20 minutes because I was never willing to drive much farther than that for play.

That caused me to rethink my choices.

A 20-minute recreation radius meant a city much smaller than I had selected; it had to be more like 100,000 people to still feel like a city and yet have the features important to me.

I was introduced to during this time and received a request to host a 23-year-old young woman travelling north from California on her way home.

She was heading to Kamloops, of all places.

Sharing about the warmth of her hometown and how much she thought I would enjoy being there, I received clarification of my need to give Kamloops a chance as my new home.

Not to rule out other possibilities, I planned a month-long journey north on Highway 97 for May 2010 to explore Bend, Yakima, Kelowna, Penticton and Kamloops.

A partial list of qualities I desired in my new home included:

• A real downtown that serves as a gathering place as well as shopping, not one that has become a ghost town, losing out to the strip malls of suburbia or one that has become a quaint tourist attraction.

• Hiking and biking trails.

• Ability to walk or bike daily to get where I want to go.

• Casual atmosphere.

• Safety.

• People welcoming cultural diversity.

• Mass transit and limited traffic.

• Reasonable medical care.

• Affordability of basic necessities.

• Opportunities to belong through clubs of common interests and volunteerism.

• Church as a place to worship, serve and fellowship.

Additional bonuses of Kamloops that provided me a sense of familiarity were the discovery of Costco and WalMart.

After exploring each city along the highway as I travelled north from Mount Shasta, Calif., I arrived in Kamloops.

My first stop was the visitor information centre, where I was made welcome in every interaction.

When I told people there I was considering moving here, they shared what they loved about living in Kamloops and provided a list of clubs and organizations in the relocation packet that convinced me there is something for everyone in Kamloops.

My couch surfer met me to hike the hoodoos and a chat friend toured me around the back roads as we sought out geocaches.

I erected my tent at the Silver Sage campground.

How special is that?

A campground right on the river in the middle of the city!

Kamloops exceeded all I could hope for in a new home and offered attractive weekend explorations close at hand for the time when I would begin to venture farther afield.

I went back to California and the pieces just fell into place for my return to Kamloops to live.

I arrived on March 31, 2011, and was warmly welcomed by friends, old and new.

In addition, through a serendipitous meeting, my employer and I found each other — which not only provided my employment, but led to an opportunity for me to have a perfect place to live.

I look at the big sky every day and am amazed at my good fortune to be here.

This city is vibrant and alive with improvements that will provide well for the quality of life of generations to come.

I love the Rivers Trail, Tourism Kamloops for promoting local activities, the rivers, the parks, Music in the Park, the spectacular water, the friends I have made and those I have yet to meet, the wildlife, the clean air, the vitality created through the hosting of conventions and tournaments and the Red Bridge.

There are the hearts of volunteers and their diverse commitments, the expansion plans for the bus system, the improvements to the bike/pedestrian path, the golf lessons at Mt. Paul Golf Course, the trails, the agencies and their people making a difference and the atypical, ever-changing weather.

I sense there is divine guidance in being in Kamloops and continue to follow the signs and am grateful to all the Kamloopsians for the peace I feel in my soul.


— Cathie Blanchard

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