Mara is a scenic town that sits on the pristine banks of Mara Lake in the Shuswap area of the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia. This town is known for its white sandy beaches at Mara Lake Provincial Park. The lake offers ideal relaxation opportunities along its unspoiled shores and provides recreation seekers many outdoor activities including houseboating, water-skiing and swimming. Fishing is also popular with an abundance of Rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Kokanee, and Lake trout.
The region was originally the location of the Ranch owned by the Canadian Merchant and Politician, John Andrew Mara. He lived there sometime during his life from July 21, 1840, till his death in February 11, 1920. It was from him that the town gained it’s name, along with the Mountains and Lake in the region.
Mara found success in politics in both the provincial and federal levels. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the province of British Columbia. He sat in the provincial legislature as the member from Yale. He ran for election as well as sat as both Government and Opposition – this was before political parties were allowed in the House. Federally, Mara was a Conservative and was twice acclaimed as a Member of Parliament in the federal riding of Yale before being defeated by Hewitt Bostock in the 1896 election in the new riding of Yale—Cariboo.
He owned the large ranchlands between Enderby and Sicamous where the Okanagan and Shuswap countries meet. The mountains east of the original ranch, and the Lake south of Sicamous, bear his name. Today Mara Lake Provincial Park is a popular tourist destination during the summer months.
Mara’s wife Alice was the daughter of Frank Barnard, founder of the Barnard’s Express Co. or “B.X.”. Her brother, and therefore Mara’s brother-in-law, was Sir Francis Stillman Barnard, 10th Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia (1914–1919).