Prior to European settlement, Christina Lake was part of the region inhabited by the Sinixt First Nations group and an important fishing ground. Pictographs located at various points along the north-east lakeshore are evidence of these first inhabitants, and offer a tantalizing glimpse into a past.
The lake was named after Christina McDonald, daughter of the fur trader Angus McDonald, who ran the Hudson's Bay Company station at Fort Colville from 1852 to 1871. By the early 1890s prospecting had spilled over from Rossland into the Christina Lake region. The Lake's original white residents were prospectors, trappers, or both. In 1898, the arrival of the railroad brought more permanent settlement to the region, and by the turn of the century Christina Lake had multiple townsites, with a total of at least five hotels. Christina Lake first became a recreational area for day-trippers from Grand Forks and Phoenix, who were able to make use of the new railroad to visit the lake.
Beginning in the first decades of the twentieth century, Christina Lake provided summer cottages, fishing, swimming and other entertainment to residents of Grand Forks and the Boundary region. The 1920s saw further growth of Christina Lake as a recreational community and tourism destination. The completion of the Cascade-Rossland highway in 1922 provided vacationers from Rossland and Trail with a direct route to the Boundary for the first time. In the 1920s, Prohibition in the United States encouraged an influx of visitors from north-east Washington, who were attracted by the Lake's saloons and dance halls. Even during the depression of the 1930s Christina Lake attracted a number of tourists, mostly vacationers from Rossland, Trail and the Grand Forks area. A summer resort hotel was built on English Point in 1928-9, and was run by George Brown and subsequent owners until 1942, when the hotel and its surrounding cabins were used to house Japanese families interred away from the coast for the duration of WWII. A few families remained in the area after the last of the restrictions were lifted in 1949, others settled elsewhere. The years following WWII saw Christina Lake become well established as a recreational community.
As you drive on the highway today, Christina Lake appears quiet and secluded. However, the frantic energy of the prospecting era and the expansive optimism of the years surrounding the turn of the century have not been lost and glimpses of the old days remain for those who care to look. Christina Lake remains one of British Columbia's best kept secrets.
Christina Lake is located 32 km (20 mi) east of Grand Forks and 72 km (45 mi) west of Castlegar on Hwy 3.
One of the many boat access recreational sites on Christina Lake. It is very popular with good swimming, camping, and fishing.
A large, popular beach and picnic area located at the south end of Christina Lake. There are a myriad of water activities to do here, including public swimming lessons in the summer. This is the most accessible beach within the area, and there are drinking fountains and flush toilets.
A large popular site on the western shore. It is boat access only and has a beach, swimming, camping, and fishing.
Red Mountain Ski Resort is a forty-five minute drive from Christina Lake along a well-maintained highway corridor- no winding dirt roads to this ski area!
Two mountains make up the ski terrain, which is accessed by three triple chairs, one double chair, and a t-bar. With over 1200 acres, and 2900 vertical feet, there is a lot to explore. The longest run is nearly five miles! It is an old-time ski area with an old-time flavour. Visitors in the winter not only include the town population of Rossland and Trail, but many people from around the world. All have fallen in love with this little-known skiers' paradise.
Along with fantastic terrain and deep snow, the hill boasts short lift lines, long vertical descents, and a network of over 89 established runs (over 80% of which is rated expert). Skiers and boarders can expect to share most runs with few others and will find their legs burning at the end of the day.
Red Mountain is famous for its tree and glade skiing. It was recently rated the number one resort in the world for the hardcore skier or snowboarder by Snow Country Magazine. Skiing Magazine listed Red Mountain in its top ten powder skiing resorts of North America.
Only about 45-minutes by car from Christina Lake, this ski hill is great for a day of family fun with the kids or for novice skiiers or boarders. There are 10 runs (not including the backside) and about 800-feet elevation gain.
The hill is owned by a non-profit organization and is run mainly by volunteers. There is a t-bar to get you to the top of the mountain and a tow-rope for the bunny hill. A warm chalet and concession await you at the bottom.
Whether you prefer fly fishing, trolling, casting, or ice fishing, Christina Lake is the place for you! Fishing is great from the time the ice comes off the lake until late autumn. March and April are the best months for the large Rainbow Trout. A well-kept secret is the great Bass fishing at Christina Lake, with both largemouth and smallmouth bass up to 10 pounds. Bass fishing runs from May until September.
Christina Lake has two fun and exciting golf courses: Christina Lake Golf and Country Club and Cascade Par 3.
The Christina Lake Golf and Country Club, an 18-hole championship course, is rated one of the best in the interior of British Columbia. The course has been open since 1986, and offers 6,615 yards of exciting and challenging golf. It is situated along the picturesque Kettle River with beautiful scenery and quiet surroundings. There is also a driving range, and excellent dining facilities in the new clubhouse.
Nearby is the Cascade Par 3 Golf Course. This 9-hole course is the only one of its kind in the Kootenay-Boundary area. The course is fun and challenging with water hazards, sand traps, a putting green, a driving range, and excellent dining at the Dueling Oaks restaurant. Its beautiful and quiet setting makes a wonderful outing for the whole family.
If hiking and biking are your idea of a good time, then let the good times roll at Christina Lake. Here you will find an excellent network of trails for every level of rider or hiker. Christina Lake is home to one of the finest sections of the Trans-Canada Trail, the Kettle Valley Railbed. Much of the surface has been renewed between Christina lake and Grand Forks, making this riverside ride easy and thoroughly enjoyable for families and friends. The Cascade Gorge section is unrivaled anywhere on the KVR and must be seen to appreciate the majesty of the Falls. There is a fine selection of singletrack trails ranging from the classic Deerpoint Trail in Gladstone Park to the Spooner Creek and Dewdney Trails- all excellent for intermediate riders. There are also trails that have built-up sections, steep drops, and challenging balance sections for expert free-riders. You won't find these on the map, so ask at WildWays for directions and shuttles.
Hiking can be scenic and leisurely in the new community park right by the lake, or rugged and challenging while ascending nearby Old Glory or Gladstone Mountain. There are easily accessed trails throughout the district, most which offer excellent day hikes and extended trips.
Saddle up and hit the trails at Christina Lake. Take a guided tour from the Owl Mountian Ranch where the experienced folks offer 1 - 4 hour rides geared to your skill level. You can also choose from their day-long rides, overnight pack trips, or wilderness adventure trips.
There are none better than Christina Lake, with its clean, clear water. The north end of the lake offers boat access beaches, just perfect for a day's boating, water skiing, or wakeboarding. Boat and equipment rentals are available at the Christina Lake Marina. There are two boat launches: one at the Texas Point area of the lake, and one at the marina. The warm water of Christina Lake enables boaters to enjoy water sports from spring into mid-autumn.
Bird watching at Christina Lake varies considerably over the year, with spring and summer being the most rewarding seasons. The best place is in the nature park at the southeast end of the lake. The many trails throughout the park allow you to quietly approach the birds in the woods and along the shore. Another area that will produce a variety of birds is on the trail along the east side of Christina Creek, which is accessible from Highway 3. During the spring and summer, you can expect to see over 70 species, with another 20-plus during the spring and fall migrations. There are also some 30 additional species of casual non-breeding birds which can be sighted at any time.
Boundary Country Tourism
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia