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Home / Thompson Okanagan / South Okanagan / Princeton

Princeton

History

In the early 1800s, Princeton was called Vermillion Forks by the fur traders travelling the Hudson Bay's Brigade Trail from the west coast to the interior of BC. In 1860 the name was changed to Princetown by Governor James Douglas, in honour of the Prince of Wales who was visiting that year.

Long before the arrival of the first white settler to the area, the land at the confluence of the Similkameen and Tulameen Rivers was inhabited by the Indian nations of the area. Several miles up the Tulameen are the Vermillion Bluffs, the source of the highly prized red ochre used for trading and face painting by many different Indian nations.

The first white settler to the area was John Fall Allison, who came seeking information for Governor Douglas. Not long after arriving, Allison built a cattle ranch where the town is now located. The years 1909 and 1916 brought the Great Northern Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway to Princeton - another link to the Coast and Interior. Princeton was incorporated as a village in 1951, and as a town in 1978.

Location

Princeton is nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, in the heart of the Similkameen Valley and at the junction of the Tulameen and Similkameen rivers. The mountains, valleys, and hundreds of kilometers of backcountry roads are a beautiful natural setting for all outdoor activities. The two rivers and 49 lakes in the area make Princeton a prime destination in all four seasons.

The town is 133 km (83 mi) northeast of Hope and 112 km (70 mi) west of Penticton.

Places to See
  • Princeton Museum
    Princeton - Digging for Fossils for the Museum - G. Logan Photography

The Princeton Museum offers an impressive art, mineral, clothing, and local pioneer furniture collection, as well as fossils, a butterfly collection, dinosaur bones, First Nation's artifacts, and much more. 

  • Princeton Castle Resort

Situated just 5 minutes outside of Princeton BC in the Cascade Mountains, this little-known pristine area surprises visitors with its amazing natural beauty and abundant recreational opportunities. Princeton's little gem is nestled in its own 110-acre valley, with Allison Creek gently flowing alongside the traditional log cabins. The beautiful castle ruins are the result of the abandonment of a cement plant built in 1910. The lodge, chalets, cabins and gazebo circle these amazing ruins. 

  • Granite Creek

In 1885, John Chance discovered gold nuggets in Granite Creek and this led to the 1885 gold rush and the community of Granite Creek was born. At one time Granite was the third largest centre of population in BC with 2,000 inhabitants. Granite Creek was destroyed by fire in 1911, but the remains of several log buildings are left. Granite and the Cemetery have been recognized as historic sites by The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, the Province of B.C., the government of Canada and is now seen as a Chinese Historic Site due to the population of Chinese that lived there. There is a BC Forest Recreation site just downstream of the town site right on the Tulameen River.

  • Blakeburn

Near Granite Creek is Blakeburn. This community began as the site of an underground coal mine in 1914. A mine explosion in 1930 killed 45 men and by 1940 the mine was closed. Blakeburn contains the largest collection of buildings and structures on Lodestone Mountain, all awaiting the curious history buff.

  • Allenby

Constructed in 1916, Allenby was the site of the 2,000 ton concentrator and mill plant used to process ore from Copper Mountain. Many concrete foundations remain in Allenby today, along with ruins of what once was a busy company town that had 68 homes and all the comforts required by a community.

  • Princeton Golf Club

Visit this spectacular 18-hole, par 72 public golf course right on the cusp of the Okanagan - just 3 minutes east of Princeton and less than 1 kilometre off Highway 3. Small-town friendliness and big-city amenities make this a must-play destination for golfers of all levels. 

  • Manning Provincial Park

Manning Park is a focus of outdoor recreation that is unique in British Columbia. Located in the heart of the Cascade Mountains, it is within a three hour drive from either Vancouver or the Okanagan. The climate and geography have combined to make this park an all season recreation area. Bisected by Hwy. 3, Manning Park is one of the most popular destination areas in the province. The landscape diversity of this park combined with four seasons' development and easy access are the prime factors which stimulate visitor interest. The park contains a large number of scenic, historic, floral and fauna attractions and provides a wide range of both summer and winter recreational opportunities.  

Things to Do
  • See the Kettle Valley Rail Trail

Visitors say the Princeton portion is one of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail's most picturesque sections. The trail runs from Brookmere south-east to Princeton and then north-east from Princeton to Bankeir and the Three Lakes, a distance of 113 km (70 mi). Princeton is at the centre and lowest point of elevation on the trail, making it your perfect base camp for a bike ride or a hiking trip.

  • Biking

Cycle over 40 km (25 mi) of signed trails leading through old growth forest and young forest with many a breathtaking view. The China Ridge trails connect to the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. They also connect to endless old logging roads and one can cycle all the way from Merritt. Make sure you have a trail map and the proper safety equipment. 

  • Hiking

The Princeton area was opened by explorers, fur traders, miners and later by the Kettle Valley Railway. Many of these trails were built along routes first used by Native Canadians. Many of the Heritage Trails can still be hiked or ridden on horseback.

  • Gold Panning

Princeton is gold rush country. The rivers and creeks still yield gold. Every spring it washes down from the mother lodes up in the mountains. If you don't carry your own gold pan in the trunk, the Visitor Information Centre will loan you one and show you a map of the town reserve. Pan only in the Princeton reserve, otherwise, you might be claim-jumping. Maps of the reserve are also available at the Government Agent's office.

  • Kayaking / Swimming / Fishing

Princeton is located at the junction of the Similkameen and Tulameen Rivers. Tubing or kayaking from Bromley Rock Provincial Park is a great way to enjoy a summer afternoon. Both rivers are excellent for swimming or trout fishing. See over 50 lakes with sport fish in them within a 100 kilometre (60 mile) radius.

  • Skiing

42 km (38 mi) of groomed trails loop through mature Douglas Fir forest, crossing rolling hills with many fine views of the surrounding valleys. Trails are maintained by the China Ridge Cross-Country Skiing Society and donations for trail maintenance are requested (deposit in box at trailhead).

Manning Park Resort and Nickel Plate Nordic Centre offer skate and track skiing; both have ski shops and rental equipment. 

Nearby Communities
Contact Information

Princeton Visitor Information Centre
Email: visitorinfo@princeton.ca
Web: www.town.princeton.bc.ca

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Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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