The Village of Midway is in a tranquil valley surrounded by protective mountains between the Okanagan and Kootenay regions of beautiful British Columbia. It is located in the breathtaking Kettle Valley on the scenic Crowsnest Highway (Hwy 3) where the Kettle River meanders through the Canada - US border. Midway is BC's best-kept secret, with a semi-arid climate, close proximity to larger shopping areas, a border crossing, affordable housing, a safe and caring community, and the amenities of a larger city.
In the 1800s, fur traders, prospectors, and white settlers began moving through this sun-drenched valley. Until then, it had been a traditional hunting ground and place for gathering the medicinal rock rose roots.
The U.S. claimed this area and all of B.C. north to 54 degrees until the treaty of 1846 set the 49th parallel as the border. But traffic and trade followed the river valleys north and south. When gold was discovered at Rock Creek in 1859, and U.S. miners came swarming into the region, Governor Douglas saw that an east-west route through the interior was vital for maintaining British control. He dispatched an energetic young engineer named Edgar Dewdney who hacked out a four-foot-wide road from Hope to Rock Creek in 1860; then with the discovery of gold at Wild Horse Creek in the Kootenays, Dewdney again tackled the task and pushed the Dewdney Trail on through the Midway valley in the spring of 1865.
By 1884, Midway had its first resident, a Mr. Henry Nicholson, and by 1889 Louis Eholt owned a thriving ranch on what is now the townsite of Midway, known then as the Eholts. A Montreal-based company bought this site for a smelter in 1892, but that plan fell through, and a year later the townsite was plotted. The new town's original name, Boundary City, was changed in 1894 to Midway.
In 1895, the first provincial policeman was posted here and in 1897 Canada Customs arrived. In 1900, Midway became the western terminus of the Columbia and Western Railway, (a subsidiary of the CPR). A copy of the Midway Advance Newspaper of June 17, 1901 carries advertising for five hotels, a meat market, drygoods store, pharmacy, bakery, wagon and carriage builder, stationery shop, sawmill, and a stagecoach company in the burgeoning little town.
The following decade saw feuding railroad companies, litigation, a series of railroad plans, short lived railroad ventures, and violence all centered in Midway. In November 1905, a pitched battle with shots fired was waged between CPR workers and a crew of the Vancouver, Victoria, and Eastern Railway (known as the Washington and Great Northern Railway in the U.S.) which was determined to run a line north from Spokane into Midway. Expropriation was granted the V.V. & E., and in 1905 Midway had its second railroad. Then on July 5, 1910, the sod was turned on yet another railroad venture - the Kettle Valley Line - to link Midwa to the west coast, with Andrew McCulloch as chief engineer. The first eastbound passenger train left Midway on May 31, 1915; the last passenger train on the Kettle Valley Line passed through Midway on January 17, 1964.
Today, although the tracks have been removed, you can still catch a glimpse of a bygone era. Stand on the original platform and imagine the hustle and bustle of the old train station, now converted into the Kettle Valley Museum.
Gold and the railroads shaped Midway's past; service industries, the lumber industry, and tourism shape Midway today.
Midway is located on Hwy 3, 55 km (34 mi) west of Grand Forks and 70 km (43 mi) east of Osoyoos.
Located at "Mile O" of the Kettle Valley Railway, one of the Museum's main attractions is the original Station House. It was built in 1900 and currently houses exhibits commemorating the steam railway era of southern British Columbia and the British Columbia Provincial Police force. Set in a shaded picnic area adjacent to Highway 3, visitors can also climb aboard a restored Canadian Pacific Railway caboose and many other outdoor artifacts. The main museum houses interpretive exhibits on the Kettle River Valley's rich cultural heritage, along with a gift shop that showcases regional history and contemporary arts and crafts.
The trees were joined together by the Indians who camped in Midway, from America and the Okanagan, as a symbol. "Yet they are separated, be as one"; and they tied the trees together.
The Kettle River Inn was built in 1900 and was known as the (first) Midway Hotel.
Built in 1905 by the Great Northern Railway Crew, an engineer donated the bell. John R. Jackson donated the land, and the Sunday School room was added in 1959.
If you're feeling adventurous, take a drive north to Mt. Baldy Ski Hill. A great place to picnic or hike in the summer, and great downhill or cross-country skiing in the winter makes this an exciting year-round destination.
Throughout the year bird-watchers visit the South Okanagan with the hopes of seeing some of the rare species that make the area their home. One ideal spot for naturalists is at Vaseaux Lake, located about 15 kilometres north of Oliver. Over 25 species of birds have their homes on the lake and the surrounding marshlands, which are a federal bird sanctuary. A wildlife interpretation center offers walking trails and a viewing blind.
The Haynes Lease Ecological Reserve and Osoyoos Oxbows Wildlife Management Area off Road 22 north of Osoyoos is another great spot for bird watching. You might be able to see Canada's smallest hummingbird or the rare Burrowing Owl, as well as bats, canyon wrens, sage thrashers, and the chukar partridge.
The area around Okanagan Falls Provincial Park is also a prime viewing ground for different birds, including a number of species of bats. Closer to town is Haynes Point Provincial Park, where trails take people into the marshlands to get closer to nature. The park naturalist at Haynes Point discusses the natural history of the area during the programs held each week at the park's amphitheatre.
Golf is a popular past time for many residents and visitors to the South Okanagan. Several courses are in the area that can challenge golfers of all levels.
The Osoyoos Golf and Country Club features 36-holes and one excellent scenery, with a view of Osoyoos Lake and the valley.
The "Riverwalk" Trail is especially suited to the casual hiker as it is mostly level and meanders through the trees next to the Kettle River. Leave about one hour to do this trail and consider returning to the Village via the Trans Canada trail stopping at the Midway Station (Kettle River Museum) on your return trip. The "Riverwalk" loop's (returning by the Trans Canada Trail) total distance is approximately 4.8 kms of easy trail. For those who want to stay in shape during the winter season it is also a great location for cross country skiing or snowshoeing.
A little more challenging but not too difficult is to take the (3.8 km return) Village View Walk. Start at the east end trails entrance off of Fritz road. Follow the red trail until the red/green junction go left onto the green trail and follow it to the green/villageview junction, go left and continue until you reach the viewpoint and flag. Enjoy the view.
Stretching along 500 kilometres of scenic gravel track, the gentle 2.2% grade into Penticton travels through vineyards, orchards, and wineries, and offers unparalleled views of Okanagan Lake. This historic former railway is shared by the Trans-Canada Trail and is ideal for walking or cycling. Guided day/overnight excursions are also available.
Village of Midway
Boundary Country Tourism
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia