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Calling a place "The Venice of the North on the Sunshine Coast" sets expectations very high. Fortunately, Pender Harbour in British Columbia more than exceeds expectations. Its rocky coastline, charming historical villages and breathtaking scenery make it an increasingly popular tourist destination. There are plenty of things to see and do along the Sunshine Coast, but for families traveling with children, Lake Katherine is a fantastic choice.
Lake Katherine, also known as Katherine Lake, is a 14-acre freshwater lake with an average depth of just 24 feet. Most of Katherine Lake's water comes from Garden Bay Lake and its outflow is through a marshy area and small creek that travels on to Mixal Lake. In 1990, the Sunshine Coast Regional District established a 79-acre park at Lake Katherine with a campground including RV sites and restrooms with showers. There are short, moderately easy hiking trails around the lake and a sandy beach for swimming, making the whole park very accessible for children. There are two private homes on the lake, but 97 percent of the shoreline is contained within Katherine Lake Regional Park.
Boat access is through Katherine Lake Park. Canoeing and kayaking are popular ways to explore the lake, but no gasoline-powered boats are allowed on Lake Katherine. Anglers can challenge themselves against the healthy populations of cutthroat trout, and Coho salmon spawn in the creek between Katherine Lake and Mixal Lake. The lake is not stocked.
Katherine Lake is one of four freshwater lakes in the Pender Harbour area including Mixal Lake, Hotel Lake, and Garden Bay Lake. Garden Bay Provincial Marine Park surrounds Garden Bay Lake, and it is an easy drive from Katherine Lake. Established in 1969, the park offers 403 recreational acres and is home to blacktail deer, black bear and cougars.
Pender Harbour is generally considered to include four villages: Madeira Park, Kleindale, Garden Bay and Irvine's Landing. Irvine's Landing is the nearest community to Lake Katherine, and was named after Charles Irving, who established a trading post at the mouth of Pender Harbour in 1865. The community was officially established at the site in 1880. Today, visitors to Irvine's Landing can stroll through the charming coastal village, browse in shops, or enjoy a meal made of the freshest seafood available in one of the town's many restaurants.
The village sits in the shadow of Pender Hill and Mount Daniel. Visitors can hike to the summit of 1,375-foot Mount Daniel and explore an archeological site left by the Sechelt First Nation Salish, the area's indigenous people. Remnants of moon rings -- stone circles made by Sechelt girls as a rite of passage into womanhood -- can be seen at the summit of Mount Daniel. The Sunshine Coast is accessible only by airplane or ferry, but ferries run regularly. Pender Harbour is just two hours from Vancouver, and there are a variety of vacation rentals as well as real estate for sale.
Lake Katherine is only one piece of the collection of lakes and communities that make up Pender Harbour. Visitors to the lake will have easy access to all the attractions and amenities of Pender Harbour, and for families with children, Lake Katherine is an easy, child-friendly way to tour the "Venice of the North."
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