Valemount is a village municipality of 1,018 people in east central British Columbia, Canada, located 320 kilometres (200 mi) from Kamloops, British Columbia. It is situated between the Rocky, Monashee, and Cariboo Mountains. It is the nearest community to the west of Jasper National Park, and is also the nearest community to Mount Robson Provincial Park, which features Mount Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. Outdoor recreation is popular in summer and winter—hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, mountain biking and horseback riding are common activities.
|Village of Valemount|
Looking West on 5th Ave downtown Valemount, BC
|Coordinates: 52°50′N 119°15′W|
|Regional district||Fraser-Fort George|
|• Governing body||Valemount Village Council|
|• Total||5.17 km2 (2.00 sq mi)|
|• Density||200/km2 (510/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC−8 (PST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−7 (PDT)|
|Area code(s)||250, 778, 236|
Origin of name
The naming of Valemount was a voluntary act carried out by some railroad workers. The naming of Valemount is well described in an article published in 1977 celebrating 50 years of Valemount: "Kushnir, a young fellow employed by the C.N.R., was again called upon to pick up his bag and walk, so to speak, as a new location had been picked for the station. The move was soon accomplished but engineers, brakies and men of the 'road' were reluctant to keep Swift Creek as the name for the station with the result that a few thoughtful hours were spent by many thinking of a new name.
Noticing that the area was actually a valley between mountains, the word Valemount was passed along as the name for our village and so it came to pass that Bergoyne one of many suggested names was cast aside and Valley in the Mountains shortened to Valemount became the passenger stop and to date still is." [Canoe Mountain Echo, Valemount reaches its 50th year, Oct 19, 1977]
There is also a quote in the Yellowhead Pass and its People book (Page 201): "Valemount, this name, for the vale amid the mountains was coined for the C.N.R. station moved here in 1927."
In 1950, the Canoe River train crash occurred south of Valemount Station.
A fundamental moment in Valemount's history was the incorporation of the community into a village under the Municipal Act (now Community Charter), on December 13, 1962. The wish to incorporate showed that local residents cared about the community and wanted to be directly responsible for the future course of their village. Up until the mid 1960s, Valemount's population was very small and mostly of an itinerant nature. Road conditions were poor in the wintertime, communications not the best, and electric power not too reliable. But thanks to the construction of the Yellowhead Highway 5 a remarkable change took place in the late 1960s. Consider the following newspaper article: The Yellowhead Highway has opened up a whole new world of travel to those visiting the Canadian West. Now coupled to this is the man-made MacNaughton Lake, which stretches for 75 miles of unequalled mountain scenery, to the mighty Mica dam. Within a short period, electrical power will supply the town from the new hydro line enabling interested investors to take a second look at the area that even today is non-existent in the eyes of some. [Canoe Mountain Echo, Valemount reaches its 50th year, Oct 19, 1977]
Expansion and growth in the 1970s
The late 1960s and the 1970s are a period of expansion, construction, and population growth. The community responded positively to the new opportunities created by the Yellowhead Highway 5. Valemount registered a population increase of 15.5 percent in the 1960s—from 600 people to 693—and boomed in the 1970s with an increase of 67.4 percent—from 693 people to 1,160. The average yearly population growth was 6.7 percent. The sewer system was completed in 1975, a water tower of 300,000 gallons started to service the town in 1977, the clinic opened in 1978, the new Community Hall was inaugurated in February 1979, and the former Village Office building had its grand opening on January 23, 1980. The shopping mall (1978) and many hotels on Highway 5 were completed in the late 1970s: Alpine Inn 1977, Mountaineer Inn 1977, and the Alpine House Restaurant (Great Escape) 1978. While the completion of Yellowhead Highway 5 was celebrated in 1967, Canyon Creek Forestry Products started the production of dimensional lumber and was successful until 1979.
Valemount in the 1980s
If the 1970s were characterized by expansion, growth and the construction of the basic infrastructure, the 1980s showed diminished population growth and a new environmental sensibility. In 1980, works began at the Starratt Wildlife Sanctuary with a significant clean-up operation at the old dumpsite. This operation mitigated and rehabilitated past landscape damages. At the end of 1980, the first Valemount Recreation Commission was formed, and the first tourist info booth was inaugurated in 1982. The Canoe Robson Education Development Association (CREDA) was founded in 1984. CREDA played a fundamental role in assisting local residents with their continued education and training needs. Meanwhile, Canyon Creek Forestry Products was replaced by Clearwater Timber Industries that provided 400 jobs between Clearwater and Valemount. After two significant mill crises in 1984 and 1986, Clearwater Timber Industries went bankrupt and was purchased by Slocan Forest Products in May 1987.
Peak of lumber production in the 1990s
The 1990s are again characterized by the cyclical nature of forestry. The mill was closed for many months in 1991-1992. Nonetheless, Slocan recovered and reached a period of peak production between 1993 and 1996 when three shifts were employed full-time (160 employees). The population increased in these five years by 17 percent. In 1998, Slocan reduced its work force by two thirds and by 2001 the local population had dropped by 7.7 percent. The sawmill, which had shut down by Slocan and then acquired by Carrier Lumber, never met its former production or employment levels, and closed permanently in 2006.
Meanwhile, the tourism sector gradually strengthened and thanks to the world-class snowmobiling terrain, Valemount's hotels and motels increased in number and could also afford to stay open in the winter season. New hotels and restaurants improved the local tourism infrastructure (Chalet Continental 1991, Loose Moose Neighbourhood Pub 1993, Canoe Mountain Lodge 1995, Canadian Lodge 1995,Caribou Grill 1999, Holiday Inn 2001 (now the Best Western), and the new Visitor Information Centre 2007). There are roughly 20 restaurants in Valemount.
Improvement and expansion of village infrastructure
All streets in the village were paved between 1993 and 2000. Major projects, such as the Curling Rink and the Arena, were completed or renovated, and the airport terminal was completed in 1996. In 1995, Valemount was invited to join the Columbia Basin Trust, created by the Columbia Basin Trust Act to benefit the region most adversely affected by the Columbia River Treaty. The Mica Dam had been completed by 1974 and the whole Canoe River Basin flooded. In 1997, the one-person office of CREDA grew into a busy Valemount Learning Centre; since then, the Valemount Learning Centre has been employing three full-time and three part-time staff, who provide various training and employment services to Valemount's residents.
Valemount in the 21st century
Valemount is now a fully serviced village, boasting high speed wireless internet, train, bus and highway service as well as world-class natural phenomena. A large number of artists, artisans and authors make Valemount their home. The village has one weekly newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Goat News, locally owned and based in Valemount, B.C. It cover the communities of Valemount, McBride, Dunster, Tete-Jaune, and to a lesser extent Jasper and Blue River. The Goat's focus is hard news, business news, community and local outdoor adventure. The Goat was named the top newspaper in its circulation category in 2015 by the BC Yukon Community Newspapers Association.
Valemount has the potential for geothermal production, and the firm Borealis Geopower obtained three permits Oct. 27th 2010 to explore the Canoe Reach area of Kinbasket Lake south of Valemount for geothermal development. It is only the second region of B.C. opened up to geothermal exploration.
The Caribou Grill, a log building, is a precursor of the new high-standards that guests and visitors expect from resort towns. The Holiday Inn (now the Best Western Valemount Inn & Suites) was completed in 2001 and equals the standards set by the Caribou Grill. The Village of Valemount has increased its infrastructure capacity by adding a second water tower (300,000 Gallons) in 2003, and now has a fully modern water treatment plant.
In 1996, the first satellite-dish was installed on the roof of the Village Office building. This enabled local residents to connect to a 33.6 Kbs dial-up service. A wireless wide area network was established in September 1999. This WAN was centered in the Village of Valemount and covered a three-kilometre radius area. ADSL service has been available since 2003, and cell phone service (only some providers) since July 2004. High-speed Internet services were available in rural areas by 2005.
Valemount is one of seven communities in English-speaking Canada with a license to broadcast over the air community television. The station is commonly referred to as VCTV within the community. In the event of a prolonged power outage or similar catastrophe where traditional communications are impossible or impractical, the society owning the station uses FM radio to provide critical messages to the people of Valemount.
- "British Columbia Regional Districts, Municipalities, Corporate Name, Date of Incorporation and Postal Address" (XLS). British Columbia Ministry of Communities, Sport and Cultural Development. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
- "The Rocky Mountain Goat News : About". Therockymountaingoat.com. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
- "The Rocky Mountain Goat News : Calgary firm snags geothermal permits". Therockymountaingoat.com. Retrieved 2015-02-26.