Sunday, August 19, 2007


Molly forgets exactly where she first heard the term. Perhaps it was while listening to a radio report on forest fires in BC. In any case there is indeed an 'Anarchist Mountain' in the southern part of the Okanagan Valley in southeastern BC (see the above map), near the town of Osoyoos. From the shores of Lake Osoyoos, reportedly the warmest lake in Canada, you can bicycle (or even walk) the six kilometers to 'Anarchist Lookout' to look down upon the Okanagan Valley below. Go a further 11 kms along Highway #3 to Lamont Road (or 18 kms to High Road Trail) and you come to the hiking/cross country skying/mountain biking trail that defines 'Anarchist Mountain' itself. It will take you about 2 hours to negotiate the trail on a bike. For further information on this 4 stars out of five path go to .

Anarchist "Mountain" isn't actually much of a mountain. Even though it affords excellent views of the valley below it only rises to 1491 meters (4892 feet) according to, the Canadian Mountain Encyclopedia. The actual crow's flight distance east of Osoyoos is only 9km. Before the "mountain" acquired its present name it was known as 'Larch Tree Hill". If you want a detailed map of the area consult .

The Osoyoos area likes to style itself as the "only true desert in Canada". This may or may not be an overstatement as Molly has certainly seen other areas in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and other parts of the BC interior that could qualify for this name from at least a visual inspection. Perhaps the claim is true from a purely annual rainfall way of looking at things(less than 20cm per year), but Molly is uncertain how the other areas she has seen compare to this number. Something to look up in the future, or for somebody to comment on here. The Oysoyoos area is a northern extension of the great Sonoran Desert. The name of the town is from the local Inkaneep (a branch of the Okanagan Salish Nation) dialect, and it means "where the water narrows" or "sandbar across". The area was a traditional place to trap spawning salmon. For almost 50 years Osoyoos was on the north/south fur trade route. later it became an entry point for cattle drives that were the supply source for gold miners in the Cariboo. The railway line finally reached the town in 1944, and since then it has become a fruit growing area. Osoyoos boasts the only banana plantation in Canada. At this time of year you can buy plums, apples and grapes from the harvest there.
The town of Osoyoos has 4,963 residents, and according to their brag boasts the "best small town museum in Canada", the Osoyoos Museum that has buildings that date from 1891. There are orchards that offer wine tours in the vicinity as well as many other attractions. For a rundown see There is also the Federal Ecological Reserve in the area that attempts to preserve the original desert environment of the locality. This reserve is home to many animal and plant species found nowhere else in Canada.
The name of Anarchist Mountain derives from an early settler Richard G. Sidley for whom the "almost town" of Sidley is also named. He was an Irishman from Ontario who spent some years prospecting for gold before settling down in the area in 1885(some sources say 1889) to try his hand at ranching and farming. His brother was apparently a Professor of English at McGill University. He took a homestead at the forks of Nine Mile Creek, almost at the 49th parallel, and eventually farmed or ranched about 2,000 acres in both BC and across the border in land leased from an Indian Reserve in Washington State. Sidley opened the first post office in the area, and also became the first Customs' Officer and Justice of the Peace in the area. He was later "relieved" of his official posts because of his political views. Stories vary about whether Sidley named the mountain himself or whether it was named after him and his politics. The mind boggles over the thought of an anarchist Customs' Officer and judge. If you want to read more about Sidley and the early history of this district go to the article at Vanishing British Columbia or to the Okanagan Historical Society's report on the early settlements. Meanwhile put this location down along with Barcelona on your anarchist tourist package.

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