Camping 70 Years Ago at OAC

Camping on the beach.
By on November 30, 2023

As I recall, the Rev. L A. C. Smith, priest of All Saints Anglican Church in Vernon, and his wife Gwen had a desire to establish an Anglican Church camp in the Okanagan. In consultation with then Bishop and Diocese of Kootenay, the property was purchased from the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway). Originally, there were only a few rudimentary cabins on site.

In connecting with Molly Boyd (nee Rendell) of Coldstream BC, we recall being the first-year campers, 70 years ago! To our recollection, we believe the camp sent a motorboat across the lake to ferry campers over, as there was no bridge at that time, and the ferry was the main mode of travel. We were just 13 years old at the time and full of vim and vigour! Our big tent was named by us: “Spider Inn”, and each tent had a competition to see which one could have the most decorative exterior.

We filled our “ticks” – a coarse cotton material – with straw for a mattress and pinned blankets on.  No ‘foamies’ or sleeping bags were available in the 1950s.

We stayed for a week and remember the good food in the big cook house, attending chapel outdoors, and hiking on the property. After swimming in the afternoon, the highlight was the evening campfire with singing and skits.  On the last night, we sent a wooden cross afloat on the water with lighted candles.
We made wonderful friendships, learned Christian values, and returned home re-invigorated.

Fast-forward to the 1970s, our three teenagers and their cousins were involved in Molly’s Music camps. I volunteered as camp nurse. A week-long time was enjoyed learning how to play guitars and sing parts for the final concert to be performed for the parent’s return. Marge Close accompanied us on the piano, and Jonah and the Whale is one presentation that comes to mind. In 1977, Father Bob Purdy and my husband Raz Truant, with his clarinet, along with Rev. Peter O’Flynn were a great support for the practices. All the campers brought instruments along to play. I am reminded of Peter’s time attending the Monk’s supper and how fun it was to use the large, awkward cooking utensils to eat with; i.e. egg beaters, spatulas and pastry cutters!

Rev Peter O’Flynn and Molly Boyd at the Monk’s Supper – OAC 1977

Molly and Marge went on to present 5 more music camps, and Molly recalls putting out a newsletter to each camper. By the way, Molly recently responded to me after re-reading all these newsletters, and said she had so many hilarious and touching memories. She recalled that each year more instruments arrived at the camp, and one year there were even 33 guitar players!!  One more final music camp was held in 1981 and Molly and Marge are to be congratulated for their time and talents given freely to so many campers.


  • Elizabeth Truant

    Elizabeth Truant is a member of St Andrew’s, Trail, Kootenay Diocese BC

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