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Flowers in the Thompson Okanagan, Photo Allen Jones
Princeton is located at the junction of the Similkameen and Tulameen Rivers in the Similkameen Valley area of BC’s Thompson Okanagan region. The mountains, valleys, and hundreds of kilometers of backcountry roads are a beautiful natural setting for all outdoor activities in Princeton. The two rivers and many lakes in the area make Princeton a prime destination in all four seasons. Tubing or kayaking from Bromley Rock Provincial Park is a great way to enjoy a summer afternoon. Both rivers are also excellent for swimming or trout fishing. Hike or cycle the nearby Princeton portion of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail which many visitors say is the most picturesque section. Princeton was also gold rush country and the rivers and creeks still yield gold which you can pan for after the spring rains wash the gold down from the mountains.
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.