Located amid the stunning Selkirk Mountains in the West Kootenays, Fruitvale, British Columbia, is known as the "Heart of the Beaver Valley". This narrow valley encompasses the communities of Fruitvale, Montrose and Trail and is traversed by Beaver Creek, famous for its plentiful brook and rainbow trout. Farming, horses and babbling brooks characterise the Fruitvale area.
Visitors to the Beaver Valley can enjoy an abundance of outdoor activities including fishing, golfing, hiking and wildlife viewing as well as stunning skiing opportunities at nearby Red Mountain Resort, cross-country skiing at Champion Lakes and snowmobiling.
Also a sporting community Fruitvale has raised some world-class athletes who have played in the National Hockey League (NHL) and competed in world-cup skiing.
Fruitvale is 8 hours east of Vancouver, British Columbia in the Kootenay Rockies region of the province and is close to the U.S. Border. From Nelson, British Columbia, Fruitvale is 66 km (41 mi) via Hwys 6 and 3B. Castlegar is 45 km (28 mi) from Fruitvale via Hwys 3 and 3B and Cranbrook is 213 km (132 mi) via Hwys 3 and 95.
The West Kootenay Regional Airport in Castlegar has daily flights to and from Vancouver, British Columbia and Calgary, Alberta. Trail Regional Airport also offers flights to Vancouver and Victoria and to Kelowna, British Columbia.
There are a number of hiking trails in and around Fruitvale with various levels of difficulty. Nearby Champion Lakes Provincial Park has a total of 6.5 km (4 mi) of gentle trails that connect three lakes and encompass the second and third lakes. There is also a trail that leads to a lookout. Boardwalks, old growth forest, scenic views of marsh grasslands and spectacular fall colours enhance the hiking experience. The trails take from 40 minutes to one hour.
Visitors come to Champion Lakes Provincial Park to enjoy the beaches, warm lakes that are excellent for swimming and paddling, hiking and to enjoy the picturesque views from the lookout. The park takes its name from the lakes and creek by that name and is located 18 km (11 mi) north-west of Fruitvale.
Canoes, kayaks and rowboats are allowed on the lakes. Both 3rd and 2nd Lakes have easy access via the boat launches. An approximate 250 metre portage from the 2nd Lake boat launch is required to reach 1st Lake.
Some 5 km (3 mi) of cross-country ski trails are kept groomed within the park throughout the winter months. These trails connect with a further 10 km of trails outside of the park.
Rainbow trout have been stocked in the lakes within Champion Lakes Provincial Park. Ice-fishing is allowed during the winter season. Beaver Creek between Fruitvale and Trail is popular for brook and rainbow trout.
Champion Lakes Golf Course is located just east of Fruitvale. This 9-hole course is set among rolling hills, has an abundance of trees, a winding creek and stunning mountain views. It is suitable for every skill level.
Just 35 minutes west of Fruitvale is the famous ski resort of Red Mountain located in the Monashee Mountains. Stunning scenery and amazing slopes offer skiing and snowboarding for the beginner to advanced enthusiast. Snowcat skiing for the advanced skier, heliskiing tours over three mountain ranges provide endless opportunities. And for cross-country skiers there are over 40 km (25 mi) of groomed trails. http://www.redresort.com/
Just a 15 minute drive west of Fruitvale in Trail, British Columbia, is the Teck Cominco Interpretive Centre where visitors can take a free tour of one of the world's largest zinc and lead complexes. The Centre showcases the smelting and refining process and features a variety of interesting hands-on exhibits. An interactive computer game will challenge visitors to discover the secrets of mineral exploration, while exhibits introduce viewers to the fascinating processes that make a number of metals that are vital to the production of products used in every-day life.
The 2 to 2.5 hour tours begin at the Teck Trail Operations Interpretive Centre, located within the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce. Tour reservations are required and can be made by contacting the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce. http://www.trailchamber.bc.ca/trail-district-visitor-centre/
The first white man to the Fruitvale area came here in 1812, following the Columbia River from the current US/Canadian boundary to the Arrow Lakes. Fur traders soon utilized the river in their long canoes, trading with the Indians who lived in the area.
It was another 50 years or so however, before a permanent settlement known as Fort Shepherd appeared. This was built by the Hudson's Bay Company. The lure of gold brought miners and prospectors to the area and the community grew.
In 1893 a railway stop was built named Beaver Siding for the Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway (later the Great Northern Railroad). The railway allowed travel in the winter and lumber camps proliferated at the turn of the 20th century. In 1906, Fruitvale Limited purchased a great deal of land on both sides of this stop and changed the name to Fruitvale. The company subdivided the land and put it up for sale, marketing the area as the best fruit growing area in the West Kootenays. In the summer of 1907 the first settlers arrived, many travelling from Ontario. By 1908, 2,000 acres of land had been sold to 200 different families of settlers. Land was cleared, homes built, fruit trees planted.
The village was incorporated in 1952 and today there is a population of some 2,000 people.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia