Flowers in the Thompson Okanagan, Photo Allen Jones
Quilchena is a small community just north of Merritt on scenic Hwy 5A. This road takes you to Kamloops and winds its way along Nicola Lake. Stop awhile at one of the pullouts and dabble your feet in the cool water. When you come upon Quilchena you will see the lovely historical Quilchena Hotel set against the backdrop of gently rolling range country, and overlooking beautiful Nicola Lake. The hotel offers a unique experience to people who appreciate fine food, friendly surroundings, a variety of leisure activities and golf in a tranquil setting. Further into this cattle country is Douglas Lake Ranch, the oldest working cattle ranch in Canada, where you can take a pre-arranged tour. The area is dotted with lakes and fishing is one of the favourite pastimes in this area.
Quilchena is located on Highway 5A, just 20 km (12 mi) north of Merritt.
The Guichon brothers left the grazing region of the Savoie in France and arrived in California in 1857. They immediately trekked north to Canada to pursue the Cariboo gold rush in British Columbia. When the rewards of prospecting became marginal, they pursued other interests that eventually led them to the ranching region of the Nicola Valley.
Joseph, the youngest of the brothers, acquired ranch property in Quilchena and it was here that he decided to build the Quilchena Hotel, exemplifying European elegance in a western setting; the hotel officially opened on July 3, 1908.
These were prosperous times, a railway line was rumored, Nicola Lake was a popular tourist destination, and the hotel was an overnight stopover for stagecoaches. However, WWI, the automobile, and prohibition reduced business, forcing the hotel to close in 1917. In 1958 the hotel re-opened and has been receiving guests ever since.