The Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3) runs from Hope at the east end of the Fraser Valley all the way east to the British Columbia-Alberta border in the Rockies. Sometimes called the Crowsnest Route or the Route of the Crow, Highway 3 is a memorial to a young engineer who came to Canada in 1859. An Englishman from Devonshire, 24-year-old Edgar Dewdney arrived in Victoria with little more than a letter of introduction to Governor James Douglas. To keep himself alive during his first few months in the west, he found work surveying for the Royal Engineers.
When the discovery of gold in the Similkameen River prompted Governor Douglas to build a trail to the Interior through British territory, Edgar Dewdney and Walter Moberly won the contract. They completed the section from Fort Hope to Vermilion Forks, now Princeton, in 1861. A few years later, gold was discovered in Wild Horse Creek, and Dewdney was given the job of continuing the trail into the Kootenays. Fighting towering mountain ranges, wild rivers, and bottomless bogs, Dewdney and his crew completed the 366-mile-long (590-km) trail in seven months at a cost of a mere $75,000. Dewdney’s hard work and ambition later served him well in provincial and federal politics. He became lieutenant-governor of British Columbia before he retired in 1897.
Crowsnest Highway: South Okanagan
The Crowsnest Highway runs from Hope at the east end of the Fraser Valley east to Grand Forks on the western edge of the Kootenays, through the Cascade Mountains and Manning Provincial Park and across the desertlike southern Okanagan Valley, including Princeton, Keremeos, and Osoyoos.
As you descend into the Okanagan Valley on Highway 3, a desert panorama broken by regular patterns of green spreads out before you. The area from the United States border north to Skaha Lake is known as Canada’s pocket desert, although it is slightly too cold and wet to qualify for official designation as such. Instead, climatologists classify it as a midlatitude steppe. However, outside the sweep of the irrigation sprinklers, greasewood, sagebrush, and prickly pear cactus are visible reminders of the desertlike environment, while western rattlesnakes and scorpions lurk out of sight.