Originally established before the First World War as a farming community for British settlers, the historic community of Walhachin sits south of the Thompson River in the High Country of BC.
The community came to life when American entrepreneur Charles Barnes convinced the British Columbia Development Association, a London based investment syndicate that boasted knights and peers among its shareholders, to create a horticultural colony beside the Thompson River.
In 1908/9 the BCDA purchased 6,000 acres, surveyed a townsite, and promoted their new ‘colony’ as ideal for ‘men of better class’. The company formed to manage Walhachin promised to build houses and manage ready-made estates for a modest fee so that ‘people of education and refinement’ could enjoy the fruits of the soil and their leisure in the New World. The company’s newspaper ads and glossy brochures claimed Walhachin meant ‘bountiful valley’, and 200 came to settle in the well-planned, tailor-made community that opened in 1910. Among the settlers were several large families, ex-civil servants, retired army officers, and a large number of well-bred young bachelors who had been encouraged to settle on these estates ‘for the sake of social companionship’.
Since many of Walhachin’s residents were relatively affluent they were able to employ Chinese and Indians as domestic servants and indulge their own taste for leisure. Tennis, cricket, golf, polo, shooting, whist parties, and amateur theatricals were all popular activities during the town’s brief existence, as were fancy dress balls in the community hall. A popular gathering place was the hotel, with its reading rooms, smoking lounge, billiard parlour, and two saloons. By 1914 the community had grown to nearly 300.
An elaborate system of canals and wooden flumes was built to carry water down from higher lands in the north to the community, which was located on the main lines of the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways. However, Walhachin was economically unfeasible, and the First World War placed a major drain on the community’s manpower when many of the British settlers returned home to enlist. This seriously weakened the colony and eventually contributed to its end in 1922.
The name Walhachin is a Thompson Indian word apparently meaning ‘land of the round rock’. The community was first known as Penney’s, after Charles Penny who had a homestead there, and later named Walhachin by the enterprising Barnes.
The vegetation around the arid ghost town of Walhachin is sagebrush, cactus, rolling hills – fabulous typical desert terrain – with an average of over 2,000 hours sunshine per year.
Location: Walhachin is located in Gold Country, set off the Trans Canada Highway in the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia, between Savona and Cache Creek (16km/15 minutes), and 45 minutes from Kamloops.
In this dry, semi-desert area, wind and water have combined to erode the earth into tall, strangely shaped pillars. Known as Hoodoos, some of these impressive natural sculptures reach fifty feet in height.
Walhachin has been used as a filming location for the popular television series, The X-Files. Ironically, many of the residents have their own stories of strange happenings.
Recreation: The Thompson River is a wonderful playground renowned for river rafting, boating and fishing. The area is also a paradise for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, golf, horseback riding and hanggliding. Thousands of acres of Crown Land lie to the south for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, hiking and rock collecting.
Fishing: The Thompson River is famous for its world-class trout fishing and Walhachin provides some of the premier fishing holes on the river. This is perfect rainbow trout water, with some of the resident rainbows weighing in between two and four pounds. River anglers will be hard pressed to find river angling elsewhere that is as attractive and productive as here.
Juniper Beach Provincial Park is one of the few access points to the Thompson River between Savona and Spences Bridge, created to help protect a desert landscape. Some of the world’s best steelhead fishing is found here. In July, you’ll be able to watch sockeye salmon as they travel upstream to spawn in the Adams River. Visitors can pretend to join them by taking a plunge in a large, natural pool that is separated from the river for swimming.
Steelhead Provincial Park is located on the southwest shore of Kamloops Lake. Summer recreation draws a crowd, but at other times you’ll have this park and its wonderfully eroded landscape to yourself.
Arrowstone Provincial Park is a 6,203-hectare protected wilderness area situated in the Thompson River Basin. The park’s natural environment attracts nature enthusiasts and photographers.
Golf: Semlin Valley Golf Course is a lovely 9-hole public golf course located on the hillside just 1 km east of Cache Creek on the Trans Canada Highway. Set in the nexus of three majestic valleys in the rugged heart of Cariboo Gold Country, this gorgeous track features lush, well-maintained fairways, panoramic vistas and the best-kept greens around. Another option is the Tobiano Golf Course, situated eight minutes east of Savona on a gentle bluff that traces the washes and swales along the shoreline of pristine Kamloops Lake, the former site of the historic Six Mile Ranch now transformed from rugged bench lands into a visually captivating golf course. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Farm Guide: Travellers looking for a down-to-earth experience can find a list of resources and activities featured in the Kamloops Farm Fresh Guide. The guide showcases the diversity of life in the Thompson Nicola region, which ranges from wine tasting to guided family horseback rides on a working cattle ranch. Visitors can use the guide (available from Tourism Kamloops) to locate area farmer’s markets and fall fairs, discover fresh-picked fruit and vegetables, farm-raised meat and eggs, and value-added products like honey and jellies.
West of Walhachin is the historic community of Ashcroft, nestled in the valley beside the mighty Thompson River, a desert oasis rich in history and big on hospitality. Ashcroft was born as a connection between the railway and the Cariboo Wagon Road.
Northwest of Walhachin is the bustling little town of Cache Creek, set amid a desert-like climate of cactus, sagebrush and rolling tumbleweeds, providing an oasis of motels at the junction of the Trans Canada Highway and the Cariboo Highway (97).
East of Walhachin is the Gold Country community of Savona on the shores of beautiful Kamloops Lake. Savona was the eastern terminus of the BX Stage Coach Line between 1865 and 1885.