The Kamloops area was exclusively inhabited by the Secwepemc (Shuswap) nation (part of the Interior Salish language group) prior to the arrival of European settlers. The first European explorers arrived in 1811, and David Stewart set up Fort Kamloops, a fur trading post, on the south side of the river junction for the Pacific Fur Company in 1812. The North West Company quickly established Fort Thompson on the northeast side of the junction, and the following year the Pacific Fur Company left the area. In 1821, the Hudson's Bay Company merged with the North West Company and took control of the fur trade at Fort Thompson. In 1842, a new Fort Kamloops was built on the northwest side of the junction.
The gold rush of the 1860s and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s brought further growth, resulting in the City of Kamloops being incorporated in 1893 with a population of about 500.
"Kamloops" is the anglicized version of the Shuswap word "Tk'emlups", meaning 'meeting of the waters'. Shuswap is still actively spoken in the area by members of the Kamloops Indian Band. Another possible origin of the name comes from the French "Camp des loups" meaning 'Camp of Wolves', likely spoken by fur traders.
Kamloops is located 354 km (220 mi) northeast of Vancouver, 87 km (54 mi) north of Merritt, 109 km (68 mi) west of Salmon Arm.
The Kamloops Museum and Archives is located in downtown Kamloops. Three floors of permanent and changing exhibits cover the exciting and varied history of this Wild West town and the landscape which shaped the people. See exhibits about the local Secwepemc nation, the early fur traders, the gold rush and the gold seekers, cattle ranching, paddlewheelers and railway construction, the coming of permanent settlers, and the making of a frontier town. Guided tours are available.
Kamloops' horticulture displays are some of the best anywhere. The combination of perennials, annuals, and hanging baskets provide a continual display of summer colour.
At McArthur Island, a Xeriscape Demonstration Garden heightens public awareness and the need for water conservation through the utilization of specific plants.
The Gregson Butterfly Garden provides an environment and plant material that attracts butterflies. Our Rose Garden displays various roses at their finest. Civic properties such as City Hall and Interior Savings Centre, maintained by the City Parks Division, are also sites where horticulture displays can be viewed.
Experience the rich cultural history of the Shuswap people at the Secwepemc Museum & Heritage Park, on the banks of the South Thompson River. The museum exhibits incorporate the oral history and legends of the Secwepemc People, along with historical photographs, illustrations, and artifacts. On display is a birch bark and dugout canoe, a summer mat lodge, and exhibits on hunting, fishing, clothing, games, food gathering and cooking. The museum is on the Kamloops Indian Reserve on the Yellowhead Highway north just north of Kamloops.
Located at the corner of 5th and Victoria in downtown Kamloops, the Kamloops Art Gallery is a public art museum that features changing exhibitions of regional, national and international art, with a contemporary focus.
Meet local and endangered species of wildlife at the BC Wildlife Park. The park has 65 BC species, including grizzly bears, timber wolves, cougars, moose, mountain goat, birds of prey, and many more, all in the spacious exhibits on the beautiful grounds. The Discovery Centre includes the BC Eco-Discovery Gallery that features interactive fun and learning experiences. This gallery allows guests to explore the unique habitats of the province on which BC wildlife depend.
Kamloops has 13 remarkable golf courses, including several 18-hole championship fairways. Renowned course architects such as Thomas McBroom and Graham Cooke have been attracted to this area to design many of these fantastic golf venues.
With the varied terrain, dry light snow, and sunny skies, Kamloops is the ultimate destination for winter sports, Not only is it home to Sun Peaks Resort, Canada's third largest ski resort, but there are also many wide open spaces for snowmobiling, ice skating, tobogganing, dogsledding, ice fishing, nordic skiing, and of course, sleigh rides!
Railways have been a significant part of the Kamloops heritage since the 19th century, and the trains continue to entrance locals and visitors alike. Kamloops is home to Rocky Mountain Railtours, which brings over 85,000 guests to the city each year. These tours make an overnight stop in Kamloops on their awe-inspiring journey through the mountains. VIA Rail also makes regular stops in Kamloops as part of its train travel packages across the Rockies and beyond.
The historic 2141 steam train offers year-round fun for the whole family, from the spooky thrills of the Halloween ghost train and the magic of Christmas (with Santa and his elves), to regularly scheduled tours that re-enact a famous turn-of-the century train robbery. The 2141 also journeys to Armstrong for a memorable day trip. For train travel on a smaller scale, jump aboard the Wildlife Express, the miniature train at the BC Wildlife Park.
Kamloops is so famous for its fishing, there's a trout named after the city - the Salmo Kamloops, or Kamloops trout. This fish lures thousands of visitors each year as they're perfect for fly fishing, usually weigh between 1.5 to 3 pounds, and can sometimes grow up to 5 pounds of more! There is also an abundance of kokanee salmon, Gerrard trout, and eastern brookies. The toughest decision you'll face when booking your fishing getaway to Kamloops is which of the 200+ lakes to try while you're here.
The arts are alive in Kamloops! Enjoy productions by the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra from September through May, or watch the Western Canada Theatre, offering an assortment of live theatrical plays for all tastes. If you'd like to see some works of art, the Kamloops Art Gallery, the Hampton Art Gallery, and the Cunliffe House Gallery are all located downtown and feature paintings, sculptures, and other works featured in different mediums. You'll also want to take in the Two River Junction Dinner Theatre from mid-April through mid-October to experience great fun, food, and music. The show has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people and features the story of bumbling crook, Bill Miner who profited only 15 dollars after robbing a train near Kamloops.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia