The Cascade Recreation Area consists of over 16,680 hectares of pristine wilderness that includes intact sections of many original heritage trails in the Cascade Mountains.
The Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society, the Okanagan Historical Society and numerous individuals have advocated for the dedication for over 30 years.
Mary Mitchell of Friends of Manning Park played her guitar and sang O Canada to open the celebration.
The Master of ceremonies was Keith Baric, of BC Parks who has been instrumental in planning the dedication.
Baric spoke of the original proposal as contained in “A Brief for the Creation of a Wilderness Conservancy,” prepared by the Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society in the late 1970s.
The proposal cited that there were five main streams; The Podunk, Skaist, Snass, Upper Sowoqua, and the Upper Tulameen.
Five historic trails; Blackeye’s, Dewdney, HBC Brigade Hope and Whatcom.
Five major peaks; Outram, Dewdney, Snass, Tulameen, and Skaist.
Five points of access from main roads—those emanating from communities such as Hope, Tulameen and Princeton.
John Trewitt of BC Parks spoke of the beauty of the area and thanked all the people responsible for its protection and for their commitment over the many years so that future generations will be able to enjoy this special area.
Chris Goodfellow of Coalmont spoke of his grandfather’s fascination with the area and especially the historic trails within it.
Rev. John Goodfellow and Podunk Davis searched for the missing sections of trail in the Tulameen River Valley in the 1930s.
Many of the people that spoke and shared their stories had been involved in the field work back in the 1970s and 80s and were delighted to have the area designated as a Class A park which now gives it the utmost protection in the province.
Randy Manuel, President of the Okanagan Historical Society spoke fondly of his days out searching and working on the trails, he paid tribute to his mentors, many of whom are no longer with us.
Ray Travers, formerly with Environment and Land Use in Victoria, spoke of his involvement in the creation of the original Cascade Recreation Area and congratulated the many people who persevered in their efforts to achieve Park A Class status for the area.
Denis O’Gorman, former Deputy Minister of Parks, spoke of the dedication of the many volunteers who worked tirelessly to get the government of the day to listen to them.
The late Harley Hatfield lead the preservation effort and according to his daughter, Alyson Hatfield Hay, he was known to “bully all his friends into helping out.” Family members attending the celebration also included Hatfield’s sons, Peter and John as well as his niece, Charlotte Warren.
Others that had been instrumental in the protection of this important area who have since passed away include Victor Wilson of Naramata, Eric Jacobson, Danny Rice and Pat Wright of Princeton and Bob Harris of Vancouver.
The plaque unveiling was held high upon Blackwall Peak overlooking the vast area that now is part of Manning Provincial Park.
Adjoining the plaque is an interpretive sign which tells the story of the many years of dedication and hard work it took to ensure this area was protected for future generations to enjoy.