Stawamus Chief - Squamish, BC.
Squamish has a natural that is hard to miss. From the mountains and lakes, to the impressive wildlife, this region has it all. The area houses many incredible natural landmarks that are a sight to behold all-year-round. In addition to being prime a rock-climbing destination, the Stawamus Chief, which towers 600 m (~2,000 ft) above Squamish, offers hikes with breath-taking views. It is the 2nd tallest freestanding granite monolith in the world. The Shannon Falls, which drops from 335 m (1,105 ft) above its base, makes a very impressive sight rising above the Howe Sound. As the 3rd tallest falls in BC, it’s incredibly easy access, and well-kept trails, makes Shannon Falls one of the most popular picnicking, and hiking spots in the area. The Porteau Cove is a provincial marine park with man-made reefs, a cliff dive, and three sunken ships plus other wrecks, ideal for divers of all levels.
The area’s many provincial parks also offer numerous outdoor activities for hikers, boaters, and wind-surfers. In the summer, when the sun shines, the thermal winds allow surfers to reach speeds exceeding 65 km (37 mi) an hour. Wildlife lovers should know that this region also houses the greatest concentration of wintering bald-eagles. Between November and March, thousands of these birds call the area home.
In addition to the natural beauty of Squamish, visitors can also see the West Coast Railway Heritage Park, which is the ‘Home of the Royal Hudson’ and Western Canada’s largest collection of heritage railway equipment dating back to 1890. Another site of historic significance in the region is the newly transformed Britannia Mine Museum which celebrates the contribution of mining and minerals to society.
The community of Brackendale is just 8.5 km (5.3 mi) north along highway 99. It is still within the district of Squamish, and well worth the trip.
Squamish is located 64 km (40 mi) north of Vancouver via Trans Canada Highway 1 and Highway 99 – the scenic Sea to Sky Highway – and 67 km (37 mi) south of Whistler. A frequent daily direct shuttle bus service is available from Vancouver Airport (YVR) and Downtown Vancouver via Pacific Coach Lines. A daily return service is also available.
Some 5,000 years ago, descendants of the people who made their epic journey from Asia across a frozen Bering Strait and down the Alaskan Panhandle to Howe Sound, still live in the area today. The Sko-mish or Squamish people hunted, trapped, fished and raised their families here.
In June 1872, British Explorer Captain George Vancouver sailed into Howe Sound and noted it as “a most uninhabitable place”. Traders, gold seekers and adventurers followed during the next century and in 1889 a couple from Manitoba arrived and started to farm the land. Other people came to farm but forestry eventually took over from farming as the foundation for the economy in Squamish.
The town had its beginning during the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway around 1910. In 1956 the railway arrived, linking Squamish to Vancouver, and it was the railway’s first southern terminus. Soon after the main highway was built, today known as the Sea to Sky Highway.
With the development and growth of Whistler to the north, outdoor enthusiasts came to the area and today tourism is a significant driving force in the economy of the area.