Big Sky Golf Club, Pemberton, Photo Destination BC Grant Harder
Pemberton enjoys warm, dry summers, and mild, snowy winters. In summer the natural landscape of the many provincial parks offer numerous hiking trails, as well as lakes and rivers for fishing and boating. This region also holds important habitats for a variety of wildlife, including spotted owls, mountain goats, black bears, and grizzly bears. In the winter the surrounding mountains, hills, and valleys becomes a winter wonderland with many outdoor activities. Whistler Blackcomb is only a 30-minute drive away, offering world renowned alpine activities.
The prime attractions of this community include, the Pemberton Museum, the Pemberton Region Airport, and two world-class 18-hole golf courses. The museum details the history of the first nations who lived in the area, with exhibits showing life before contact with Europeans. The regional airport offers daily helicopter tours of the valley, and even paragliding or skydiving for the more extreme visitors. The Big Sky Golf & Country Club, and the Meadows Golf are both located at the base of Mt. Currie beside the Coquitlam River, offering stunning views, coupled with spectacular golf.
Pemberton is 33 km (20 mi) north of Whistler off Highway 99. From Lillooet the village is accessed via Highway 99 (Duffy Lake Road). The district includes the Village, the First Nations community of Mt. Currie, Pemberton Valley, D’Arcy, and Birken.
Before European settlers, the greater Pemberton Valley area was the traditional territory of First Nations peoples of the Interior Salish tribe. Today, Pemberton’s closest neighbouring community, Mount Currie, is the administrative seat of the Lil’wat Nation and their governing body.
Named for Joseph Despard Pemberton, a Surveyor General for the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1850s, “Port Pemberton” first appeared on a map in 1859 as a supply stop to service the influx of gold seekers. By the early 1880s, as gold fever dwindled, people turned to farming the rich farm lands of the Pemberton Valley.
The first passenger train rolled through Pemberton in 1914, further opening the area to settlers and trade. Throughout its history, agriculture and forestry have been the mainstays of the local economy. The Valley is best known for its seed potatoes, and is affectionately referred to as “Spud Valley” by locals. In 1967, this area became the first commercial seed potato area in the world to grow virus-free seed potatoes.
Travel in and out of the region was largely regulated by the railway until 1975, when southern highway access was added from Whistler. The Duffey Lake road was paved in the late 1980s completing the last section of the scenic drive called the Coast Mountain Circle Tour.
As the fastest growing community in BC, the Village has seen many changes in a short period of time. Agriculture and forestry are still important aspects of local economy, but tourism employs the highest percentages of residents.