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Home / Thompson Okanagan / South Okanagan / Grand Forks

Grand Forks

History

Grand Forks' history is closely tied to the mining and railroad boom of the 1890's and early 1900s. The original settlers came for the rich farmland and stayed on as the industrial era took over, including three railroads, mines, smelters and power plants.

Following the town site survey in 1895, a large number of wood frame buildings were constructed. A fire in 1908 and another in 1911 virtually wiped out the original downtown core of Grand Forks; however, business was booming and many of the commercial buildings were rebuilt. The oldest and only original building on Market Ave. is Andy's TV, unchanged since its construction, except for more modern display windows. Many of Grand Forks' historic homes remain, as do a number of commercial and industrial sites. The slag piles, remnants of the days of the smelter, can be seen just a short distance from town.

In 1897 the City of Grand Forks was incorporated under the Speedy Incorporation Act, with John Manly as the first mayor. His home, and many of the early city officials' homes, are listed in the Boundary Museum's Heritage Walking Tour brochure.

The CPR built the first railroad into the Boundary Country in 1899. The station, the oldest CPR station in BC still in its original location, is located in West Grand Forks, in what was originally the City of Columbia. There was intense competition between the two cities, for both wanted to be the commercial and railroad centre of the valley. In 1903 the two cities amalgamated. The name Grand Forks was chosen to represent the confluence of the Kettle and North Kettle (Granby) Rivers.

The City of Grand Forks had its own water and electrical system as early as 1898, and was also connected to the outside world by telephone. The population, which started with just a few farmers, continued to grow. The population in 1896 was 200 and had reached 1,000 by 1899. Today the city's population is over 4,000 with an area population of over 10,000. Grand Forks' economy is now based on the lumber and insulation industries, and tourism also plays a large part in today's economic growth.

Location

Grand Forks is a picturesque community, located in the southern interior of British Columbia, in what is commonly known as the Boundary Country, a region found between the Okanagan Valley and the Kootenays.

Grand Forks is located on Hwy 3, 100 km (62 mi) west of Castlegar and 124 km (77 mi) east of Osoyoos. It is near the Canada/US border with two border crossings close by, one at 20 km (12.4 mi) east and the other 8 km (5 mi) west of Grand Forks. 

Places to See
  • Boundary Museum

The Boundary Museum is dedicated to providing an in-depth look into the history of Grand Forks and the surrounding area. 

  • Fructova Heritage Centre

Built as a schoolhouse, the building now houses a peace library. On the grounds are the bread oven & fruit drying facility that were built and used by this self-sufficient society.

  • Pioneer Garden

While away the afternoon in the charming backyard of a Doukhobor couple who applied their cultural slogan: "Toil and Peaceful Life" to their garden many years ago, with wonderful results. The detailed landscaped sections incorporate many artifacts, and there is a woodworking shop on premises where traditional woodcrafts are made.

  • Gladstone Provincial Park

Gladstone is, perhaps, most well-known for the vehicle-accessible Texas Creek campground, which was added to the park area in 1995 and provides excellent camping, picnicking, and a safe swimming area. However, the park also has significant wilderness value. It provides a diversity of habitats in the Selkirk Foothills ecosection of the province that is found nowhere else. These include Kokanee spawning areas, winter range for deer and elk, and of particular importance, low elevation habitats and old growth cedar and hemlock forests. There are several short trails that lead from the campground to the lake. Christina Lake has a reputation as one of the warmest and clearest lakes in Canada. There are several pocket beaches that provide great opportunities for privacy and quiet moments. The Monashee Mountains surround the lake and it is a perfect backdrop for a variety of water-oriented recreational activities. Fishing for Kokanee, Rainbow Trout, and Smallmouth Bass is popular. The protection of spawning areas in the park such as Sandner Creek is extremely important.

Two areas of the park have been zoned as Special Features: the pictographs on the east shore of Christina Lake and the Troy/Sandner Creek area at the north end of Christina Lake from 100 metres off-shore to one kilometre inland to protect the provincially significant spawning habitat for kokanee and rainbow trout and the area's importance for grizzly and black bear habitat during the fish spawn.

  • Christina Lake Provincial Park

With 350 metres of sandy beach and parking for over 200 vehicles, this park is great for the whole family. The lake has a reputation as the warmest in all of Canada. Plenty of shade trees and picnic tables near the beach, combined with a warm shallow swimming area make this a super beach for the kids.

Things to Do
  • Agricultural Tours

Drive through the farmland & nursery area and see the pastoral side. Tour the working heritage mill (by appointment), and take some flour home with you. In August/September, you can tour an apiary to see the honey production process.

  • FishingGrand Forks - Fly-fishing on the Pristine Kettle River- Paul Stone

The Boundary offers over 25 secluded spots for your angling pleasure. 

  • Golfing

Golf on one of 4 courses in the Boundary area, including a par-3 and an 18-hole at Christina Lake.

  • Go on a Walking Tour

Learn about Grand Fork's heritage and history on one of the downtown walking tours that takes you past the charming heritage buildings. See the restored mansion on the hill, visit the fabulous museum, and learn about the town's stellar mining and agricultural past. Grand Forks was once home to the largest copper smelter in the British Empire, and produced nearly one third of BC's apple crops!

  • Horseback Riding

Saunter on a horse through the picturesque valley to beautiful viewpoints above, or take the kids for a pony ride.

  • Explore Phoenix

Phoenix is an abandoned mining town between Greenwood and Grand Forks. See the Cenotaph that marks the former town site, and explore the trails to find relics. You can drive right through to Greenwood on the gravel road, and tour their smelter ruins in Lotzkar Park.  

Nearby Communities
Contact Information  

Corporation of the City of Grand Forks
Web: www.city.grandforks.bc.ca

Boundary Country Tourism
Web: www.boundarybc.com

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Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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