Ashcroft lies on a flat bench next to the Thompson River in a unique desert setting. Located centrally in the South Central Interior of British Columbia, the community is surrounded by rolling hills that rise steeply in the east and extend to the west to form the Highland Valley Plateau.
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. Accommodations and services increased rapidly with the influx of people, and by 1887, the BC Express Company (a famous stagecoach line in Yale) had relocated to Ashcroft, where it stayed for 35 years. Ashcroft was bustling with harness and wheel repair shops, blacksmiths, livery stables, and freight warehouses.
During the period 1886-1920, the Village of Ashcroft flourished. By 1920, however, the Pacific Great Eastern Railway was built which accessed Prince George and the Northern Interior of British Columbia from Alberta. Ashcroft lost its strategic position as a supply centre for the North, spelling the end of a prosperous era.
To survive after the town lost its role as an important transportation centre, and to recover after the destruction of "The Great Fire" of 1916, the people of Ashcroft came to rely on their natural 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 decided to convert their freight barn in Ashcroft into a tomato cannery, and consequently put BC Express workers back to work. The cannery remained open until 1957.
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.
Ashcroft shares the Campbell Hill Airport with Cache Creek. The Airport is located 7 km (4 mi) north of Ashcroft.
The closest scheduled air service is provided at the 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 downtown Ashcroft. Amongst its many gardens and pathways, this park features an array of different displays, historic markers, and plaques unique to the history of Ashcroft, ranging from an authentic native pit house, soddy house, and operating waterwheel to a refurbished railway caboose outfitted with an antique newspaper printing press.
In the summer relax and picnic under the many shady trees throughout the park while listening to live music played in the park's gazebo. The north end of 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.
This park is equipped with washroom facilities in the form of a railway station, complete with a boardwalk surrounding it. Benches and picnic tables are scattered throughout for tourists to relax and enjoy.
Due to its beautiful setting, this park has become very popular for hosting outdoor wedding ceremonies.
The red two-story building located on 4th and Brink street has been home to the Ashcroft Museum since 1982 . This 1917 brick building was formerly used as a Post Office, and telegraph & telephone exchange office.
Exhibits located on the lower floor 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 will be offered a taste of what it was like to stroll down Ashcroft's main street at the turn of the century. A colourful combination of artifacts, texts, and photographs vividly illustrates life as it was in the "glory days" between the beginnings of a town in 1884 and the great fire which destroyed much of the business core in 1916.
On the second floor, the history of the farming and ranching communities of Hat Creek Valley has 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.
The walking tour of Ashcroft shows visitors 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 1911still stands on Railway Avenue opposite Heritage Place Park.
There are many residences throughout Ashcroft that were built between the 1880s and the early 1900s. These buildings are not too difficult to distinguish because of their obvious early architectural designs. Two of the oldest are the 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.
The many trails surrounding the town offer splendid opportunities for hiking and mountain biking.
The annual Ashcroft Art Show, held in April of every year, is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to meet the local artists and see the results of their efforts.
The Ashcroft and District Stampede has often been billed as the "Biggest Little Rodeo in the West". People come from far and wide to enjoy the weekend of western action. Stampede weekend is usually held the third weekend in June.
Village of Ashcroft
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia