The history of Valemount dates back to the arrival of the first European fur traders David Thompson and Pierre Hatsination around 1805. The Overlanders passed through the area in 1862, en route from Ontario to the Cariboo Goldfields. The Great Northern and Grand Trunk Railroads came into the area about 1910, with railroad activities centred around Tete Jaune Cache, 25 kilometres to the north. Valemount became a railway station in 1928, and expanded gradually until the 1960s with the development of improved highways. The economy of Valemount today is based on forestry, ranching, and a very strong tourism industry.
Valemount is on the steps of magnificent Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Located on Hwy 16/Hwy 5, 294 km (183 mi) east of Prince George and 322 km (200 mi) north of Kamloops.
The Valemount Museum was built in 1914 as the original train station. It was used until 1981. In 1987 it was purchased for one dollar by the Valemount Historic Society and restored to be the Valemount and Area Museum. It opened to the public in 1992. Prior to 1981, the station was used as a waiting room for travellers waiting for the train to arrive and as a house for the station agent and his family. Now, in each room of the museum there is a different story to be told.
Mount Robson Provincial Park is the largest provincial park in the Canadian Rockies. The park is located entirely within British Columbia, bordering Jasper National Park in Alberta. The B.C. legislature created the park in 1913, the same year as the first ascent of Mount Robson by a party led by Conrad Kain. From May to September, a visitor centre is open just south of the Mt. Robson Viewpoint on the Yellowhead Highway.
George Hicks was a long-time resident of Valemount. He homesteaded the park site in the 1920s, worked in lumber camps, panned for gold, and later formed a real estate company and was a director of the Regional Board in 1968. In 1984, two years after Mr. Hicks died, the Regional District of Fraser Fort George purchased the park in his name. It is an excellent place to view the Chinook salmon as they return home in mid August.
Jackman Flats is a beautiful area at the southern end of the Rocky Mountain Trench, with views of both the Rocky Mountains and the Columbia Mountains. The scenery and the unique plant communities that have adapted to its environment of dry sand dunes make this nature reserve a very special place. Swamp communities are here as well, in sharp contrast to the desert-like conditions of the dunes.
The Robert W. Starratt Wildlife Sanctuary is one of Canada's finest birding locations. Located along the path of a major migration route, it's visited by more than 140 bird species a year. Among them are several species each of hawks, eagles, geese, ducks, swifts, woodpeckers, sandpipers, owls, finches, vireos, flycatchers, chickadees, bluebirds and warblers. The best time to view birds at the sanctuary is in the spring or fall, at daybreak or dusk. The wildlife sanctuary is located on Highway 5, just south of Valemount.
Mount Terry Fox Provincial Park is a day-use only park with limited facilities. There is no road access. A Highway 16 viewpoint 7 km west of Mt. Robson west gate provides a view of the mountain. This park is historically significant as a park dedicated to Terry Fox for his outstanding achievements.
The Camp Creek cross-country trail system is 14 km south of Valemount, on the eastside of Highway 5, 2.5 km on the Camp Creek Road. The area offers great snow and easy access for every level of skier. Ample parking is available at the trailhead, with a cook shelter and picnic tables. Clemina Cabin is in the northern part of the Monashee Mountains. Fantastic powder skiing on west facing runs. McKirdy Cabin is in the Selwyn Range. It is a beautiful excursion area. However the few west-facing runs are short. The lower part is hard to ski due to heavily treed slopes.
Golfers can tee off at Valemount Pines Golf Club on a well-maintained golf course with 9 greens and 18 tee boxes situated on a plateau with wonderful mountain views. The Pines is 1 km (1/2 mi) north of Valemount on Highway 5.
Canoeists can paddle the McLennan and Fraser Rivers, or canoe through the R.W. Starratt Wildlife sanctuary for a close-up view of the migratory bird, mammal, amphibian and plant life in the sanctuary. Guided tours are available.
The mountainous area around Valemount is a perfect place for guided horseback riding trips to happen. See the Robson Valley from high upon a ridge, on the back of a well trained horse - suitable for riders of all ages and levels of experience.
Embark on an exciting half-day whitewater rafting adventure on the mighty Thompson River, the longest and most historic river in British Columbia. You can also choose a gentle floating trip down the scenic Thompson, with magnificent views of Mount Robson, and good wildlife viewing opportunities. Although it's entirely possible to run the river unaccompanied, the majority of paddlers opt for the services of a certified guide.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia