The History of Sorrento Centre

We welcome all to come learn a little more about some of the history of these beautiful 24 acres of land of which we care for.

To begin, the tale told in the video below is a settler’s story, which takes place on the traditional and unceded lands of the Secwépemc First Nation. Secwepemc (pronounced Se-KWEP-umk-wh) means “The People”. Early settlers had trouble pronouncing the word and chose to say “Shuswap” instead. Interestingly, the original town site of Sorrento was once called Trapper’s Landing. Early in the 1900s, James Reid Kinghorn travelled from Montreal and settled with his family on the shores of Shuswap lake to build an estate and working commercial orchard. The breathtaking view of Copper Island in Shuswap Lake reminded him of his honeymoon sighting of the Isle of Capri which he saw from Sorrento, Italy. When Mr. Kinghorn first looked out over the orchards, Shuswap Lake and Copper Island, he was reminded of Italy, the Bay of Naples and the Isle of Capri. “We shall call this town Sorrento”. The town was so named in 1912.

THIS VIDEO was created in 2023, the Centre’s 60th Anniversary year. Michael Shapcott, Executive Director, tells a short story about the wealthy Kinghorn family and their beautiful homes on the shores of Shuswap Lake.

Once upon a time, a magnificent house was built for Mr. Kinghorn’s bride, Winifred, out of Douglas Fir, which they named Spes Bona. Translated from Latin, it means ‘Good Hope’. Sadly, the original home burned down and in 1927 the second Spes Bona was built in its place…

Below is a 1982 publication of the Sorrento Centre Story, named “The Apple of His Eye”, which shares detailed informatiom of the early history of the South Shuswap area’s develpment, the Kinghorn family, and of the Sorrento Centre estate and it’s development.

This beautiful farm is what remains of the original Coubeaux family homestead. About three acres are the fields, the property includes critical bird habitat and orchard. Just a 5-minute walk from the lake, the cottonwood forest has grown up around the old cherry orchard and barn and several very old Douglas fir and cedar trees provide more habitat for wildlife. The heritage Finnish tongue and groove cedar barn is the oldest structure in the Sorrento area.


The Sorrento Retreat and Conference Centre Farm…

Once upon a time, back in late 2008 Mary Rawson donated her eight acre farm property to the Sorrento Retreat and Conference Centre, with the provision that the land is used while maintaining the natural habitat for local songbirds.

This beautiful farm is what remains of the original Coubeaux family homestead. About three acres are the fields, the property includes critical bird habitat and orchard. Just a 5-minute walk from the lake, the cottonwood forest has grown up around the old cherry orchard and barn and several very old Douglas fir and cedar trees provide more habitat for wildlife. The heritage Finnish tongue and groove cedar barn is the oldest structure in the Sorrento area.

Over the years, the Farm has nurtured a working vegetable and fruit farm while continuing to provide important habitat for a number of local bird species. Using natural farming methods we are continuously producing a bounty of nutritious food for our kitchen and for the surrounding community. The farm provides a place of learning: the basics of permaculture and regenerative agriculture, seeding and planting and harvesting; as well as seeking to better understand our natural and spiritual relationship to the land.

 Sorrento Centre chose the theme Nourish for 2024. Born of that theme was a vision of a Community Garden for Sorrento Residents. Our vision of a community garden has come to fruition! The Sorrento Community Garden is for diverse people of all ages. A place where Sorrento residents can come and gather with a common purpose: growing healthy, nutritious food, promoting physical and emotional health, connecting with nature, and teaching life skills. “It is all about community!”

As the mystic Julian of Norwich has said:

“Be a gardener. Dig a ditch, toil and sweat and turn the earth upside down and seek the deepness and water the plants in time. Continue this labor and make sweet floods to run and noble and abundant fruits to spring. Take this food and drink and carry it to God as your true worship.”

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