An open house this weekend will celebrate the 100th anniversary of fish culturing in the region and the 90th anniversary of the Summerland Trout Hatchery.
The open house will be held at the hatchery on Saturday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“The hatchery is a great source of pride in our community. As the oldest continuously running trout hatchery in B.C., we have deep roots in Summerland,” said Kyle Girgan, manager of the hatchery.
“We hope the community will come out to help us mark the occasion and we’ve created an anniversary sticker so people can show their hatchery pride all year long.”
Girgan said fish culturing in the region began in Summerland in 1918, when George Gartrell began a small fish culturing operation in the Peach Orchard area of Summerland.
In 1927, the federal government purchased the property to use as a hatchery.
The site had been a concrete powerhouse. The location had constant water flow and constant water temperature from Shaughnessy Spring.
That year, Granville Morgan was appointed Special Guardian of Fisheries for Okanagan District No. 1 under Gartrell, who was now inspector of fisheries.
Girgan said the spring remains one of the most important features of the hatchery.
“One of the things that makes us so unique is our water source, Shaughnessy Spring,” he said.
“It’s very rare to find a hatchery like ours, with a water source like ours.”
He said it is important to protect the spring, since it supplies the water the hatchery needs to continue its operations.
When the hatchery was opened, it was initially run on a part-time, seasonal basis.
The first releases were into Darke Lake and Garnet Lake. Both lakes are still stocked with fish from the hatchery.
In 1937, the province purchased the hatchery from the federal government andtook over all fish culture activities relating to inland species.
In 1947, the hatchery building was replaced with the current structure.
The visitor centre was opened in 1990.
In 2003, the ownership of the hatchery was transferred to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C.
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. was created in 2003 as a private, not-for-profit organization.
Each year the society stocks eight million trout, char and kokanee in 800 lakes around the province.
The Summerland hatchery stocks one million fish in lakes from Grand Forks to Revelstoke and Kamloops.
Each spring, the hatchery trucks fish to 120 to 150 lakes, and each fall, a similar number of lakes in the region are stocked by helicopter.
The fish from the hatchery include some sterilized trout, sterilized eastern brook char and some unsterilized females.
Girgan said eastern brook char are not native to the area, but are still supplied to area lakes.
“The brookies have been stocked in this part of the province for decades,” he said.
He added that efforts are made to ensure the fish from the hatchery will not breed with wild fish. This is the reason for releasing sterilized fish in lakes where wild native fish may be found.
In addition to breeding fish, the hatchery also has a visitor centre, with information about its fish breeding and stocking efforts.
The visitor centre is now open, and during the summer it will be open seven days a week.
This year, the hatchery will have a learn to fish program operating out of the facility.
Girgan said the hatchery intends to continue operating in the community.
“We’ve been here for 90 years and we’re committed to another 90 years in Summerland,” he said, “but we need to have another 90 years of protection.”