Flowers in the Thompson Okanagan, Photo Allen Jones
Chase is the western gateway to the recreational splendor of the Shuswap area in the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia. The village is located on the shores of Little Shuswap Lake in the mountainous eastern region of the South Thompson River Valley. Mount Scatchard and Mount Boysee dominate the southern horizon, while the northern side of the valley is defined by the Shuswap Highlands. The Shuswap area is a popular summer destination for swimming, boating, fishing, hiking and many other outdoor activities. Nearby parks offer lots of opportunities to access the lakes.
Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park is a fascinating place to visit at any time of year, but particularly in early October during the run of the Adams River sockeye salmon. Every 4th year is a “dominant” run, with millions of fish to be seen. The 26 km / 16 mi trail system is used for cross-country skiing & snow-shoeing in winter, for hiking and mountain biking in summer.
The town of Chase was named after Whitfield Chase, an American from New York State who arrived in the area in 1867 after coming to Canada during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. He was the first non-native settler who farmed and raised a family in what was then called the Shuswap Prairie. He married a young Secwepemc girl who became Elizabeth Chase, and they raised nine children together. The town was named in honour of Whitfield Chase, although the community did not exist until more than 10 years after his death.
An American logging company first came to the area in 1907 and purchased what became the original town site from Whitfield’s heir. They subdivided the land into lots, installed water and electricity, and sold the lots to workers and business people. For the location of the mill, they leased approximately 70 acres of land from the Chase family that bordered the Thompson River near Little Shuswap Lake.
The Chase mill became known as the Adams River Lumber Company because they logged exclusively off the Adams River and Adams Lake area. The Adams River Lumber Company, after logging within 100 feet of the Adams River and Lake, closed the mill in 1925 and took their profits back to the United States.
Chase grew slowly over the next few decades with only a small core of permanent residents. It was not until incorporation in 1969 that the community began to market itself as a tourist destination and people began to explore the area. The community, as a result, saw an increase in population with visitors to the area returning to live, work, and retire. Chase also benefited from the construction of the Coquihalla Highway in the mid-1980’s. Improved access to the area brought new life to the local economy in the form of another tourist explosion that has expanded the community’s economic base and resident population. Chase continues to benefit as the number of businesses, population, and tourism increase and contribute to the local economy.