The Kettle Valley’s Highway 33 follows the old Kettle Valley Railway grade as it links Kelowna with Rock Creek, an area that includes the Kettle River Provincial Recreation Area and the Kettle Valley Railway Trail.
Probably the first white man to travel through the Boundary area of the West Kootenays was David Douglas, a renowned botanist, after whom the Douglas fir was named. It has been said that he was a very religious man who read from the Bible every day and offered prayers giving thanks for the spectacular beauty of the new landscapes he encountered.
A series of major and minor gold rushes began at Rock Creek in 1859 and throughout the area over the next 10 years, and saw the sudden influx of more than 5,000 miners, most of whom were from the US. Governor James Douglas (not related to David Douglas) quickly ordered the rapid construction of the now-famous Dewdney Trail, going from the coast to the gold field just north of the border.
When bigger strikes occurred in the Okanagan and the Cariboo, the miners left, but an important trade route remained. Later, as copper, silver, lead, and zinc ores were being mined in large amounts, the Kettle Valley Railway, a branch line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, was built so that ore and smelter traffic would remain in Canada instead of being shipped to the US, as had been the case. Remains of this early history are abundant. A backroad trip to a ghost town will colour your visit to this extremely beautiful region.
The area became more settled later, particularly by the Doukhobors (spirit wrestlers), a group of Russian religious pacifists who emigrated to Canada in 1898-99 with the assistance of writer Leo Tolstoy and British and American Quakers. As the Boundary district was well suited to cattle ranching and agriculture, the Doukhobors found the pastoral serenity around Greenwood, Grand Forks, and Trail compatible with their values of respect for the land and peaceful self-sufficiency. In this regard, David Douglas (who died an untimely death in Hawaii) would have felt at home among them.
Location: The Kettle Valley borders the South Okanagan region, and is most directly approached either from the west or east along Highway 3 to Rock Creek (located just north of the Canada-US border and about midway between the Pacific coast and the British Columbia-Alberta border); or from Kelowna in the north, along Highway 97.
Amid summer sunshine, sparkling waters and warm Okanagan smiles, the city of Kelowna is the Okanagan’s largest and liveliest population centre, and one of Canada’s most popular vacation destinations. It’s such a perfect lakeshore community that it’s known to some as the Summer City. If you enjoy water sports – sailing, houseboating, kayaking, windsurfing, and fishing – you may never want to leave Kelowna.
Boundary Country in the southern interior of British Columbia incorporates the heritage valleys of the Kettle River, the West Kettle River, Boundary Creek, Granby River, Christina Lake and all of the many tributaries that drain the Monashee Mountains into the Columbia River Basin.
The once flourishing gold and silver mining boomtown of Rock Creek is located in Boundary Country, in the southern Okanagan region. 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.
Enjoying Canada’s driest climate, Osoyoos bills itself as Desert Wine Country. Osoyoos is the only desert in Canada, with the lowest rainfall, the highest temperatures, and the warmest lakes. Osoyoos is located in the middle of the Southern Okanagan wine country.
Big White Ski Resort on Big White Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the southern Monashees, truly lives up to its name, with well over 100 marked runs fanning out from the summit of Big White. There is tremendous bowl skiing on top, wide-open glades at mid-mountain, and great fall-line cruising virtually everywhere.
Kettle River Recreation Area straddles the Kettle River between the Okanagan Plateau and Monashee Mountains, and brings to mind one of Canada’s most historic and scenic railway routes. The Kettle Valley Railway discontinued service between Beaverdell and Penticton in 1973, and the track was removed between Midway and Penticton in 1979-80. The abondoned right-of-way runs through this recreational area, including a sturdy iron bridge spanning the Kettle River, and is an excellent hiking trail.
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.