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Home / Thompson Okanagan / Nicola Valley / Quilchena

Quilchena

History

The Guichon brothers left the grazing region of the Savoie in France and arrived in California in 1857. They immediately trekked north to Canada to pursue the Cariboo gold rush in British Columbia. When the rewards of prospecting became marginal, they pursued other interests that eventually led them to the ranching region of the Nicola Valley.

Joseph, the youngest of the brothers, acquired ranch property in Quilchena and it was here that he decided to build the Quilchena Hotel, exemplifying European elegance in a western setting; the hotel officially opened on July 3, 1908.

These were prosperous times, a railway line was rumored, Nicola Lake was a popular tourist destination, and the hotel was an overnight stopover for stagecoaches. However, WWI, the automobile, and prohibition reduced business, forcing the hotel to close in 1917. In 1958 the hotel re-opened and has been receiving guests ever since.

Location

Quilchena is located on Highway 5A, just 20 km (12 mi) north of Merritt.

Places to See
  • Quilchena Hotel

Quilchena Hotel is a full-service hotel located in the heart of one of British Columbia's largest working cattle ranches. It is still owned and operated by descendants of the founder, Joseph Guichon, who established it back in 1908 during the heyday of ranching.

Set against the backdrop of gently rolling range country, and overlooking beautiful Nicola Lake, the hotel offers a unique experience to people who appreciate fine food, friendly surroundings, a variety of leisure activities and golf in a tranquil setting.

  • Quilchena on the Lake Golf Course

With sheltering hills around, and the blue waters of Nicola Lake nearby, the Quilchena on the Lake Golf Course has a tranquility that draws residents and tourists alike. Located just 15 minutes north of Merritt on Hwy 5A in the heart of historic Quilchena, this full size 9 hole course sits on land once part of a cattle ranch, and frequently used as a field for polo matches. The course started in 1963 with a mere 3 holes and expanded to its present complement of 9 in 1969. It features well-manicured, double-cupped greens, sand traps and the winding Quilchena Creek on 5 holes. It has proven to be a challenging course for golfers of all skill levels.  

  • Douglas Lake Ranch

Established in 1886, this is Canada's largest working cattle ranch. The ranch is approximately 515,000 acres in size, has in the neighbourhood of 18,000 head of cattle and employs 60 people. In addition, the ranch has two of North America's top lakes for producing rainbow trout and operates a general store and post office.

  • Spius Creek Salmon Hatchway

The facility takes adult Chinook (in August) and Coho (in October) from surrounding area rivers. The eggs and serum are extracted from the adult fish. The fertilized eggs are carefully monitored in a hatchery. The baby fish are raised to various sizes before being released into numerous BC rivers. The hatchery offers tours year round, but please call ahead.

Things to Do
  • Hiking

The Nicola Valley is hiking country, with its rolling hills, mountain meadows, endless trails, and breathtaking beauty.

  • Fishing

The Nicola Valley hosts over 200 fishable lakes and streams.

  • Mountain Biking

The Merritt Mountain Bike Association has mapped numerous trails in the Nicola Valley! Expect to find rolling hills, mountain meadows, and gorgeous scenery.

Events
  • Merritt Mountain Music Festival

Mountainfest, the largest outdoor country music festival in Canada, takes place in sunny Merritt for 6 days every July - a spectacular event where people listen to the best of the best in country music & enjoy a multitude of fun, family activities. 

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Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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