Manning Park is a piece of history and a piece of the future of B.C.. The park itself was established in 1941. It is seventy years young and in celebration of its seventieth birthday Back Country Horsemen of B.C. saddled up for a historic ride. The riders left from parts of the Lower Mainland, from Princeton and from other parts of B.C.. They were stopped by snow from doing their original ride, but not from celebrating Manning Park’s birthday.
Manning Park is over 70,000 hectares of “towering cedar rain forests and spectacular alpine meadows,” states the brochure. What the brochure doesn’t state is all of the history. Part of that history includes an equestrian barn and camping area.
Manning Park is crisscrossed with trails and paths…some made by humans and some from game. The Whatcom Trail is one such trail made by humans. It was blazed through the rugged terrain to make a path into B.C.’s interior. These first trails had one thing in common. They were blazed by humans on horseback.
In celebration of B.C. Parks 100th anniversary, Manning Park’s 70th and the B.C. Back Country Horsemen’s 20th, riders paraded into Manning Park with much to regale.
Rose Schroeder is the vice president of Back Country Horsemen of B.C., chair for Joint Trails and Access Committee Horse Council BC and the director of the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C.. Schroeder was one of the driving forces behind the Back Country Horsemen of B.C. club’s involvement. It was Schroeder and her group who spent hours getting the Headwaters Corral at the Manning Park Horse Camp ready for the event. “The camp was a joint project of the Back Country Horsemen of BC, BC Parks and Manning Park Resort,” said Schroeder, “with a significant amount of funding provided through Horse Council BC.” Back Country Horsemen’s Yarrow chapter spearheaded the project with help from the Aldergrove chapter. Schroeder also complimented Manning Park Resort for allowing the Back Country Horsemen to rejuvenate the corral camping area for equestrian use. There are presently six campsites at the location.
Roy Harker from Princeton was one of the horse riders who rode into the park for the celebration. Harker has been riding horses since he was little and has been volunteering in B.C. Parks for 13 years. In 2008, Harker won “volunteer of the year” for B.C. Parks for his service clearing trails and maintaining cabins in Snowy Mountain protected area. “The rides were drastically changed doe to increment weather,” stated Harker. “Our group spent eight days in at Placer and Trapper Lake and then rode into Manning for the celebration. I have been riding in this area since I was eight years old.”
Harker’s group had eight riders. “My grandson Isaac Turand from Surrey was the youngest,” Harker continued. “He is ten years old and carried the letter from the Mayor from the Town of Princeton to the celebration at Manning. “Isaac was the only kid and did the longest ride he has ever done,” said his proud grandfather.
Roy has lived in Princeton for 68 years. “Mom was two years old when she came to Princeton,” said Harker. “My brother Len has been here for 71. It was really nice to be asked to be a part of it all.”
While Harker’s crew came in from a different direction than Schroeder and her crew, Harker credited Schroeder for the great work at Manning. “Rose is very down to earth and gets things done,” he said. “The Back Country Horsemen came up with $16,000 of their own money for the horse barn and campsite at Manning plus did an incredible amount of volunteer work. They clear trails all over and it is really appreciated.”
The horse celebration was just part of the celebratory day. Kelley Cook took hikers on a historical walk, there were activities for kids including a horse wagon ride, fishing and a lantern workshop. There was music and speeches. Two RCMP officers in their red serge participated in the day. One officer rode a horse in. A fire suppression crew had displays as did the parks crew. Ed Atkinson West Okanagan Area Supervisor for B.C. Parks Service was a big part of the day and had worked with Cook and Schroeder to make the day special. “It was a lot of work,” said Atkinson, “but a lot of people came out for the celebration. I think we could easily call the day a success.”