In the Secwe̓pemc language, the word “Quaaout,” pronounced “Kwa-oot,” means “where the sun’s rays first touch the land.”
As a golf course photographer, this is a word that resonates with me. I’m drawn towards light. Good light. And the golden, low-angled light in the morning is typically the best. For this reason, when I’m at the Quaaout Lodge & Spa at Talking Rock Golf Resort (one of my favourite golf courses in the country, I might add!), I make it a point to head up to the amazing par-3 15th hole at sunrise.
Not only is the 15th a spectacular hole, but due to its position high on the hill, this is where the light hits first. It’s the perfect spot to record the golden hues washing over the land at the break of day. And the hole – a daring, downhill par-3 with a gorgeous green hanging above the lake – is one of the most picturesque in British Columbia.
So, naturally, while I don’t know many Secwe̓pemc words, “Quaaout” is one that’s stuck with me! But every time I visit this course, which sits in a pristine lakeside setting on Little Shuswap Lake Band lands, the ancient history and cultural richness of the local Indigenous people always leaves a strong impression.
While the golf experience at Talking Rock is spectacular (designed by acclaimed architects Graham Cooke and Wayne Carleton, the course is consistently recognized as one of the top public golf courses in Canada), the resort is also known for its assortment of cultural experiences. Smudge Ceremonies (think spiritual cleansing), walking tours, rock and paddle painting, storytelling, and dreamcatcher workshops are just some of the highlights.
However, if Indigenous experiences are on your wish list, there’s a lot more you can add to your itinerary.
A visit to the Secwe̓pemc Museum & Heritage Park (located right in Kamloops near the Bighorn Golf & Country Club) is another opportunity to dig deeper into Secwe̓pemc culture. Inside the museum are hundreds of artifacts, historical photographs, illustrations, and displays. Outside in the 4-hectare park you can stroll through ethnobotanical gardens, visit pit houses, and see the archeological remains of a 2,000 year old winter village.
Interestingly, Bighorn Golf & Country Club is also on Secwe̓pemc territory. And you definitely don’t want to leave Kamloops without playing this course! Routed through sage-covered hills (it’s like you’re playing in the Arizona desert!), Bighorn serves up scintillating views throughout, and the contemporary Cooke & Carleton design is peppered with unique golf holes. The 11th, a downhill par-4 that careens along the hillside, is one of my favourite holes in Kamloops. Also, the spacious clubhouse patio – with an elevated view of the lake, city, and mountains – is second to none.
If you’re searching for a powerful and truly “immersive” Indigenous experience, a peaceful paddling trip with Moccasin Trails is something to consider. You’ll glide across sacred waters, taste traditional foods, hear the ancient stories, and visit important sites along waterways that have been travelled for centuries.
Also, for a unique Indigenous “foodie” experience, a stop at the Kekuli Cafe in Merritt (about forty minutes west of Kamloops) is so worth it. The bannock and Pow Wow Tacos are awesome!
Regardless if you’re carrying a camera, a paddle, or a putter, there are many Indigenous-themed activities in and around Kamloops. My closing suggestion? Start your day early. When the sun’s first rays hit the land is ideal!
Andrew Penner is a freelance writer and photographer based in Calgary. You can follow him on Instagram @andrewpennerphotography.