In 1981, Phil Wright met Isabel Reinertson while they were both teaching in School District #83. They married in 1984 and have been fixtures on the Shuswap agricultural and recreational scene for the past 31 years.
Phil was raised in Silver Creek. His mother’s family, the Reid’s, and his father’s family, the Wrights, arrived in the Shuswap in the early 1900s. Isabel was raised on the family cattle ranch in the Summerland area. Their parents were community and church leaders, contributing to the economy and quality of life in their respective communities. The Reid and Wright families established mixed dairy farms along the banks of the Shuswap River. They were actively involved as members and volunteers of many early associations, including the Salmon Arm Creamery Association, the North Okanagan Creamery Association, Shuswap Okanagan Dairy Industries Cooperative Association, the Silver Creek United Church, and the Women’s Institute. They volunteered their homes as part of the Okanagan Regional Library’s rural service, were 4H Club leaders, sat on the Silver Creek School Board, and helped establish Pioneer Lodge in Salmon Arm. Isabel’s family was like-minded in their community.
Phil’s list of community involvement is a long one. He was an active member of the Salmon Arm tennis club for approximately six years, coaching children as well as playing himself. He sat on the executive of the BC Teacher’s Association local. He’s been an active volunteer with the Larch Hills Nordic Society for years as part of the ‘Jack Rabbit’ learn to ski program and currently as part of the ‘Adult Learn to Ski’ program. Whenever there’s an event on the ski hill, you’ll find Phil there. He’s always available to the Shuswap Trail Alliance, especially in the area of the South Canoe Trails.
He and Isabel are also very active in both the recreational and professional equine fields, representing the area at horse shows throughout BC, and Phil is a judge at many horse trials throughout western Canada. Phil is also a walking storehouse of knowledge about Salmon Arm and the Salmon River Valley. Deborah Chapman, Curator of the Salmon Arm Museum, frequently consults Phil to verify historical details. He received the Queen’s Jubilee medal for his involvement with the Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association (better known as the ‘Fair Board’). As for Isabel, who has been riding horses since she was three years old, she has served as a director of the Horse Council of BC and as VP for FEI disciplines, and is currently chair of the Dressage Canada Achievement Awards committee. Currently she is a member of the board of directors for Equine Canada, which governs equestrian sport for Canada. She received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in recognition of her work in establishing Para- Equestrian Canada. Isabel is also an accredited Equine Canada ‘M’ dressage judge and National Para-Equestrian judge, judging at events throughout the Pacific Northwest. Other interests include her local Rotary club of which she has twice been president. She also served as an Assistant District Governor for Rotary International district 5060, and currently chairs the scholarship committee of her local club.
Growing up in families who were so active in establishing their communities through volunteerism and community service, then following in their footsteps, it’s no wonder it was ‘absolutely a no-brainer’ when it came to decide how best to give back to their community. Because they were familiar with the Shuswap Community Foundation’s role, they chose to establish the Reid/Wright Families Endowment Fund with the foundation. The fund is discretionary because, say Phil and Isabel: “We have faith in the directors to make good decisions and didn’t want to tie their hands when a greater need might exist somewhere.”