The Smallest City in Canada, Greenwood is located in the southern interior of British Columbia, west of Grand Forks and to the east of the Okanagan Valley.
Rich in historic charm, the story of Greenwood dates back to the discovery of rich lodes of copper-gold ore by prospectors in 1891. The dreams of Robert Wood came true, when in 1895 he purchased the land that is now the site of the city, built a General Store, and named the settlement Greenwood. With the discovery of rich copper ore came an influx of people from far and wide, and within two years the former rugged wilderness region had been transformed into a booming frontier city, one of the busiest and richest mining regions in Canada. Greenwood had become the social and economic hub of the entire Boundary region
The City of Greenwood was incorporated in 1897, and by 1899, the population had reached 3,000, with the city boasting many fine hotels, an opera house, a newspaper, and countless other stores, services and businesses that served the other mining camps in the region, such as Eholt, Boundary Falls, Phoenix, and Deadwood.
Greenwood’s new smelter plant was commissioned in 1901, processing copper- gold ore from the nearby Motherlode Mine, and mines in Nelson and Rossland. The smelter’s 121 foot brick smoke stack that looms over the city is one of the few surviving in the province, surrounded by mounds of black slag that once glowed red hot, an ever-present reminder of the early golden days of mining.
By 1910 the mining boom had peaked, with both Greenwood and nearby Phoenix enjoying steady business. However, copper prices soon plummeted, the market died, and by 1918, Greenwood was virtually deserted.
This changed with the onset of the Second World War, when a thousand displaced Japanese Canadians arrived by train to be interned in the vacant houses in the town during 1942. They were part of the 22,000 people of Japanese descent who were forced to leave their coastal homes during the first nine months of 1942, representing the largest mass movement of people in the history of Canada. Thus Greenwood was saved from the ghost town status that befell virtually every other mining community in the region. The new residents of Greenwood transformed the town into a bustling community, once again, and when the war ended in 1945 and many city councils endorsed the deportation of Japanese Canadians, Greenwood stood fast in supporting its much appreciated community members.
Today, Greenwood has evolved into an historic tourism destination, and remains deeply committed to mining and forestry, and is expanding its role as a regional continuing education centre.
Winters in Greenwood are fairly mild, with average snowfalls and warm, dry summers.
View the excellent displays of the history of Greenwood, Phoenix and the surrounding area at the Greenwood Museum. The museum pays a tribute to the Japanese Canadians who were interned in the area during the 1940s. The museum has a collection of relics, including bottles from mining camps.
Walking Tour: Downtown Greenwood displays turn-of-the-century heritage homes, hotels and other public buildings that have been restored to their original splendour. A must is a visit to the former courthouse, now serving as City Hall. Tours of the ornate courtroom and the jail are available through the museum. Walking tour and hiking maps of the historic buildings are available at the Greenwood Museum.
Picnic at the smelter site, now Lotzkar Memorial Park. Explore the industrial ruins, smoke stack, millions of tons of black slag, and the so-called Hell’s Bells. Named after past owner Leon Lotzkar, the park features walking paths and trails that meander in and around the building remnants.
Take a look back in time at the Kettle River Museum in nearby Midway, 20 km south of Greenwood. One of the main attractions is the 1900s Canadian Pacific Railway Station building, which was moved to its present location in 1985. In it are the B.C. Provincial Police display, railway items, and part of the living quarters. Midway was Mile 0 of the Kettle Valley Railway, now abandoned and used as a hiking and biking trail. Other exhibits include farm machinery and an old fire truck. The museum is open from May to September.
Old Tunnel: Slow down just north of the city and view the old tunnel, built in 1913.
Kettle River Recreation Area: Just over 5 km north of nearby Rock Creek on Hwy 33, the Kettle River Provincial Recreation Area is named for the river that runs through it. It also contains the abandoned right-of-way of the Kettle Valley Railway, which makes an excellent hiking trail, and brings to mind one of Canada’s most historic and scenic railway routes. Open May through September, this recreation area features vehicle/tent sites and a picnic/day-use area, as well as an amphitheatre and a visitors program. Remains of gold and silver mines that once brought thousands of people to this now peaceful area can be seen on the river’s eastern bank. In winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are favourite pastimes in the park. The Kettle Valley Railway discontinued service between Beaverdell and Penticton in 1973, and the track was removed between Midway and Penticton in 1979/80. Much of the 600 km of abandoned right-of-way now serves as the Kettle Valley Mountain Bike Trail, accessible from many places along Hwy 3, including the Kettle River Provincial Recreation Area.
You can camp beneath the cottonwoods at Boundary Creek Provincial Park, about 3 km west of Greenwood on Hwy 3, just north of the US border. This tranquil park offers vehicle/tent sites and the chance for patient anglers to catch rainbow and brook trout. Nearby are the remains of the old BC Copper Company smelter, which employed about 400 men from 1901 to 1918.
Johnstone Creek Provincial Park , located near Rock Creek on Hwy 3, about 45 km east of Osoyoos, is only open May through September. Its vehicle/tent sites are situated in a scenic, peaceful area forested with Douglas fir, pine, and aspen. There is a picturesque waterfall on Johnstone Creek near its confluence with Rock Creek. Visitors can fish as well as hike.
Jewel Lake is an almost 3-km lake in the Monashees that offers great opportunities for water sports. Rainbow trout can be caught by fly-casting in summer or ice fishing in winter. The largest Rainbow Trout pulled from BC waters was reportedly taken from the Jewel Lake in the 1930s – 52.8 pounds (23.5 kgs). There are no services or maintenance staff at Jewel Lake Provincial Park , located 10 km north of Greenwood off Hwy 3, so visitors are asked to keep the area clean, for themselves and others.
Outdoor Adventure: In Summer, hiking, fishing, cycling, horseback riding and birdwatching are popular pastimes. Hikers and bikers travel near abandoned mine sites or beautiful mountain lakes and streams. The Downtown Creek Walk along Boundary Creek is a favourite for birdwatchers and mushroom pickers. The leisurely hike up Jubilee Mountain provides a great view of Greenwood and the valley. On the south edge of town are the beautiful Boundary Creek Falls and the remnants of the Dewdney Trail.
Spend an energetic day on the slopes! Phoenix Mountain Ski Resort, located 15 km east of Greenwoods, is accessible not only to downhill and cross-country skiing, but also to winter activities such as snowmobiling and tobogganing, all a short drive away. Skiing & Winter Activities in the Okanagan and Similkameen Country.
The Rail Trail 200 Dog Sled Race is contested in mid January over approximately 200 miles of exciting and challenging trails running through some of BC’s most beautiful backcountry. The race starts and ends in Grand Forks, following the old Kettle Valley rail bed. The trail leaves the rail bed to continue through spectacular scenery along the valley bottom before climbing the slope to Big White Ski Resort for a mandatory layover. From there the trail returns through the Kettle Valley, across the adjacent slopes and rivers to Grand Forks.
Take the Phoenix Forest and History Tour, a self-guided driving tour that follows the prospector’s footsteps and explores the area’s rich history and resources. The Phoenix Interpretive Forest, a 180 square kilometre area containing many significant historic sites, serves as an excellent example of Integrated Resource Management. Beginning at the junction of the Phoenix Road and Highway 3, approximately 20 km east of Greenwood, the tour is 22 kilometres in length and can be completed in about 2 hours.
East of Greenwood is Grand Forks, an attractive Sunshine Valley town on the Crow’s Nest Highway. Grand Forks is named for its location near the convergence of the Kettle and Granby Rivers.
West of Greenwood is Rock Creek, a once flourishing gold and silver mining boomtown located in Boundary Country. Remains of this early mining history are abundant, and just waiting to be explored on a day trip or circle tour through the region’s tranquil hidden valleys.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on Okanagan and Kootenay Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through the Southern Okanagan, starting and ending your sun-drenched voyage in Osoyoos, the place where two lakes come together. Circle Tours in British Columbia.