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Home / Thompson Okanagan / South Okanagan / Greenwood


A Step Back in Time

Rich in historic charm, the story of Greenwood dates back to the discovery of rich lodes of copper-gold ore by prospectors in 1891. The dreams of Robert Wood came true, when in 1895 he purchased the land that is now the site of the city, built a General Store, and named the settlement Greenwood. With the discovery of rich copper ore came an influx of people from far and wide, and within two years the former rugged wilderness region had been transformed into a booming frontier city, one of the busiest and richest mining regions in Canada. Greenwood had become the social and economic hub of the entire Boundary region.

The City of Greenwood was incorporated in 1897, and by 1899, the population had reached 2,000, with the city boasting many fine hotels, an opera house, a newspaper, and countless other stores, services, and businesses that served the other mining camps in the region, such as Eholt, Boundary Falls, Phoenix, and Deadwood.

Greenwood's new smelter plant was commissioned in 1901, processing copper-gold ore from the nearby Motherlode Mine, and mines in Nelson and Rossland. The smelter's 121 foot brick smoke stack that looms over the city is one of the few surviving in the province, surrounded by mounds of black slag that once glowed red hot, an ever-present reminder of the early golden days of mining.

By 1910 the mining boom had peaked, with both Greenwood and nearby Phoenix enjoying steady business. However, copper prices soon plummeted, the market died, and by 1918, Greenwood was virtually deserted.

Greenwood - Downtown - Denise Baird

This changed with the onset of the Second World War, when a thousand displaced Japanese Canadians arrived by train to be interned in the vacant houses in the town during 1942. They were part of the 22,000 people of Japanese descent who were forced to leave their coastal homes during the first nine months of 1942, representing the largest mass movement of people in the history of Canada. Thus Greenwood was saved from the ghost town status that befell virtually every other mining community in the region. The new residents of Greenwood transformed the town into a bustling community, once again, and when the war ended in 1945 and many city councils endorsed the deportation of Japanese Canadians, Greenwood stood fast in supporting its much appreciated community members.

Today, Greenwood has evolved into a historic tourism destination, and remains deeply committed to mining and forestry, and is expanding its role as a regional continuing education centre.


Greenwood is located on Hwy 3 in southcentral BC, just north of the Canada/United States border, 80 km (50 mi) east of Osoyoos and 36 km (22 mi) west of Grand Forks.

Things to See and Do
  • Greenwood Museum and Visitor Centre

The Greenwood Museum and Visitor Centre is located on Copper Street indowntown historical Greenwood. 

  • Boundary Falls

Boundary Falls was once the site of a bustling town, with one of three smelters in the Boundary Mining District. Boundary Falls used to be a hydroelectric dam built and used by the City of Greenwood until 1921. Successful development of the West Kootenay Power building as a Mining and Power Interpretive Centre, adjacent to the Lotzkar Park smelter ruins, will tell of the mining history in smelting of copper ores and its world demand, the establishment of electrical power, and the railway transportation.

  • Kettle River Recreation Area

Stands of Ponderosa pine interspersed with open areas of bunchgrass characterize this recreation area that lies astride the Kettle River between the Okanagan Plateau and the Monashee Mountains. The abandoned right-of-way of the historic Kettle Valley section of the Canadian Pacific Railway, completed in 1916 to link the Pacific coast with southern Alberta, passes through the site. On the east bank of the river is evidence of the once flourishing gold and silver mines. In the summer, there's excellent canoeing or inner tube riding, although there are some hazards on the river. In the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are favourite pastimes.

  • Boundary Creek Provincial Park

This park can be found on the banks of Boundary Creek just west of Greenwood. In the creek are small rainbow or brook trout that may reward the patient angler. Slag heap and crumbling stack nearby mark the site of the B.C. Copper Company smelter that once employed 400 men during its years of operation from 1901 to 1918.

  • Johnstone Creek Provincial Park

Located east of Osoyoos, this park offers camping in a quiet, forested creek side setting. It provides a convenient escape from the hectic Okanagan Valley. The park has 38 hectares of mature Douglas fir, larch and spruce trees that provide habitat for woodpeckers and other cavity nesting bird species. White-tailed deer are often seen in the park.

  • Jewel Lake Provincial Park

This park offers all of the ingredients wanted for camping in a wilderness setting. The lake is approximately 3 km long and fly fishing for rainbow trout is a very popular activity. Jewel Lake Resort is located on the south end of the lake and can provide you with basic essentials and boat rentals. There is a maximum 10 hp. boating restriction on the lake. Car-top boat-launching facilities are available in the park.

  • Explore the Trans-Canada Trail

Extending from the Kettle Valley Museum in Midway, BC to Castlegar, this was once the Columbia & Western Railway. Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, it was abandoned in 1988 and donated to be turned into a Recreation Trail in March 2000. The two trestles have now been decked and railed for your safety.

  • Fishing

Jewel Lake is an almost 3-km lake in the Monashees that offers great opportunities for water sports. Rainbow trout can be caught by fly-casting in summer or ice fishing in winter.

  • Explore the Tunnel of Flags

After leaving Jewel Lake you may want to take a look at the Tunnel of Flags. It is a beautiful old train tunnel that was unearthed in the 1990s when a newer tunnel on Highway #3 was blasted and removed.

  • Bird Watching

Throughout the year bird-watchers visit the South Okanagan with the hopes of seeing some of the rare species that make the area their home. One ideal spot for naturalists is at Vaseaux Lake, located about 15 kilometres north of Oliver. Over 25 species of birds have their homes on the lake and the surrounding marshlands, which are a federal bird sanctuary. A wildlife interpretation center offers walking trails and a viewing blind.

The Haynes Lease Ecological Reserve and Osoyoos Oxbows Wildlife Management Area off Road 22 north of Osoyoos is another great spot for bird watching. You might be able to see Canada's smallest hummingbird or the rare Burrowing Owl, as well as bats, canyon wrens, sage thrashers, and the chukar partridge.

The area around Okanagan Falls Provincial Park is also a prime viewing ground for different birds, including a number of species of bats. Closer to town is Haynes Point Provincial Park, where trails take people into the marshlands to get closer to nature. The park naturalist at Haynes Point discusses the natural history of the area during the programs held each week at the park's amphitheatre.

  • Golfing

Golf is a popular past time for many residents and visitors to the South Okanagan. Several courses are in the area that can challenge golfers of all levels. The Osoyoos Golf and Country Club features 36-holes and one excellent scenery, with a view of Osoyoos Lake and the valley.  

Nearby Communities
Contact Information

Greenwood City 
Web: www.greenwoodcity.com

Boundary Country Tourism
Web: www.boundarybc.com 


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Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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