By Jim Cooperman, Observer contributor
With a population of slightly less than 3,000, one might think that Enderby is the province’s smallest city, however that title goes to Greenwood where just 665 people live. Enderby may be small, but it has much to offer given its many recreational opportunities, the importance it places on heritage and community values and its close relationship with the adjacent Splatsin community. Although its population is aging, there has been a resurgence of young families moving into the city, as the elementary school enrollment is over capacity.
The key economic drivers for Enderby include manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, with the local dairy industry one of the most important sectors. Major employers include the small local sawmill, a company that manufactures safety equipment, and retail outlets. One of the new businesses is a dairy truck cleaning company that washes out the insides of stainless-steel milk tankers.
Enderby was one of the first communities to grow and prosper in the Shuswap, thanks to its strategic location adjacent to the river bend and its proximity to productive farmland. For decades, the five-story roller mill built in 1887 supplied the province with flour; a massive sawmill provided hundreds of jobs and a brickyard provided bricks for homes and buildings throughout the valley. Today, Enderby’s rich heritage is a key part of the city’s charm and many of the older homes and buildings, including the city hall built in 1910, are the focus of the community’s historical walking tour.
Arts and culture have a prominent place in the community, with a number of murals adorning the sides of buildings, and colourful window and wall paintings created by the well-known local artist Heather Edwards. The Enderby Arts Festival, held every July, is a free family oriented street festival that features an outdoor artisan market, a pancake breakfast, a food court, Family Fun Zone and an entertainment stage with live music and entertainment. Local art can be viewed throughout the year at the centrally located, courtyard gallery established by the Enderby and District Arts Council.
Excellent live music can be enjoyed throughout the year in Enderby. Every month during the summer, the community hosts Music By the River concerts in Belvidere Park. Throughout the rest of the year, there is a monthly Coffee House at the Enderby Drill Hall, which serves as the community centre. Other activities in the Drill Hall, built in 1913 with Enderby bricks, include yoga, karate, ukulele classes, church services, childcare and cadet meetings.
There are many opportunities for sports and recreation in Enderby, where there is an ice arena, a curling club, a skateboard park, an outdoor pool, numerous playing fields and a well-used walking trail along the river.
Fishing is also a favourite pastime, especially from off the bridge over the Shuswap River. Every July long weekend, many hundreds of ball players and their families come to Enderby, Armstrong and Vernon for the Annual Funtastic Slo-Pitch Ball Tournament, which also includes a music festival.
Perhaps one of the most unique amenities in Enderby is the 69-site, public RV Park and campground, run by the Chamber of Commerce. Some families have been camping here annually for many years, as they appreciate the natural surroundings, the close access to the river, and the many nearby outdoor activities, including golfing, boating, hiking and the outdoor movie theatre. The campground is very popular with tourists from France, Holland and Germany who come specifically to hike the Enderby Cliffs. Remarkably, the campground is even open during the winter and provides full service hook-ups to the growing number of people who are choosing to live year-round in their RV units.
The one activity that has really put Enderby on the map in recent years is paddling and tubing on the Shuswap River. All summer long, parking areas adjacent to the river are full, as thousands flock to enjoy a lazy day floating down the river, often from the Trinity Bridge to Tuey (Paddlewheel) Park. Although there are concerns about littering, a common problem whenever there are crowds of people, efforts are being made through the River Ambassador program to educate the tourists about the need to keep the river pristine.
According to Enderby mayor, Greg McCune, the scenic riverside city offers nearly everything and is affordable for both young families and retirees. Its recently renovated city core provides friendly shopping and places to dine.
One day soon, the city will also benefit from the rail trail that runs through it and will extend from Sicamous to the south Okanagan.