The Village of Ashcroft is located in Gold Country in the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia. It lies along the magnificent Thompson River in a unique desert setting. Steeped in history from the days of the Gold Rush, the community is surrounded by rolling hills that rise steeply in the east and extend to the west to form the Highland Valley Plateau. A small town proud of its heritage buildings and history that has been used in several Hollywood movies.
Ashcroft is located 10 km (6 mi) south of the junction between Trans-Canada Highway 1 and Highway 97, on Highway 97C. Travelling the Trans-Canada Highway 1, Ashcroft is located 93 km (58 mi) west of Kamloops and 338 km (210 mi) northeast of Vancouver. The closest scheduled air service is at Kamloops Airport with flights to Vancouver, Calgary, and Prince George.
Take a walk through time in this picturesque park located at the south end of Ashcroft. Among its many gardens and pathways, this park features displays, historic markers, and plaques unique to the history of Ashcroft including: an authentic native pit house; operating waterwheel; and refurbished railway caboose outfitted with an antique newspaper printing press. The park highlights its relationship with Ashcroft's sister city, Bifuka, Hokkaido, Japan, with a Japanese mural painted by Bifuka artist Kazuhiko Nagaki, and with a Japanese Garden.
| Ashcroft in the Fall |
The 1917 red brick two-story building located on 4th and Brink street is home to the Ashcroft Museum. It was formerly used as a Post Office, as well as a telegraph and telephone exchange. Exhibits portray the history of the Southern Cariboo, the First Nations people, and the establishment of Ashcroft. Replicas of early stores have been created and visitors can experience what it was like to stroll down Ashcroft's main street at the turn of the century. The history of the farming and ranching communities of Hat Creek Valley have also been recreated by following the stories of several of the pioneer families in the area. Included as part of the display is a replica of a small coal mine circa 1860 and a slide presentation. The Museum is open mid April through October. Admission is by donation.
| Ashcroft Lies Along the Thompson River |
The walking tour of Ashcroft highlights the many buildings that date back to the first years of settlement in the village. Historically significant buildings on the tour are marked with heritage plaques, each containing a photo and brief history. The Ashcroft Journal, the local newspaper, is still operating in its original building and the building that stood as the headquarters of the famous stagecoach company, the BX Express and Mail Company which was built in 1911, still stands on Railway Avenue opposite Heritage Place Park. Many residences that were built between the 1880s and the early 1900s can be seen on the tour, as well as two of the oldest churches - St. Alban's Anglican Church, built in 1891, and the Zion United Church, built in 1892.
The lakes and rivers of he area are teaming with fish and are considered to have some of the best fly fishing in the province. Expect to find steelhead, konanee, and rainbow trout. One of the favourites with locals is Barnes Lake just off Hwy 97C.
|Historic Hat Creek Ranch |
An original road house dating back to the BC Gold Rush, Historic Hat Creek Ranch showcases what life was like in the 1860s. Interpreters in period costume, original buildings, the historic roadhouse, a stagecoach ride, guided tours and even gold panning add to the experience. Historic Hat Creek Ranch is located just a short drive from Ashcroft.
Geocaching has become a popular activity for all ages. A modern treasure hunt, the Gold Country region of BC has created a Gold Country Geo Tour for all to enjoy. In and around Ashcroft caches have been hidden so visitors to the area can enjoy the outdoors while going on a hunt. The Gold Trail provides details on how to get started on geocaching and more.
The Village is steeped in the history of the Gold Rush. With the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 1800s, Ashcroft became Mile "0" on the road to the goldfields. Freight and mining supplies off-loaded from the train, made their way north to the Cariboo Gold fields by stagecoach, freight wagon, and sleighs in the winter. With the influx of people business grew, and by 1887, the BC Express Company (a stagecoach line in Yale) had relocated to Ashcroft, where it stayed for 35 years.
| Stagecoach at Historic Hat Creek Ranch |
From 1886 to 1920, the Village of Ashcroft prospered, however in 1920 the Pacific Great Eastern Railway was built accessing Prince George and the Northern Interior of British Columbia from Alberta. This spelled the decline of Ashcroft. To survive, the people of Ashcroft came to rely on the area's resources. It was already known that when water was added to the parched soil of the "benches" between the hills, practically anything would grow well under the intense heat of this northern desert's sun.
During the same time, Chinese immigrants were doing experimental planting, and reaping benefits from the sale of tomatoes and potatoes. The BC Express Company converted their freight barn in Ashcroft into a tomato cannery, and consequently put BC Express workers back to work. The cannery remained open until 1957.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia