to Do Where
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to Eat Getting
Prior to European settlement, Christina Lake was part of the region inhabited by the Sinixt First Nations group. Also known as the Arrow Lakes People, the Sinixt were an Interior Salish people whose territory stretched roughly from the Monashees to Kootenay Lake, from Revelstoke to north-east Washington. Christina Lake was an important fishing ground, as was the Kettle River around Cascade. Pictographs located at various points along the north-east lakeshore are evidence of these first inhabitants, and offer a tantalizing glimpse into a past that remains largely unspoken.
The lake was named after Christina McDonald, daughter of the fur trader Angus McDonald, who ran the Hudson's Bay Company station at Fort Colville from 1852-71. Fort Colville was established in 1825, and until its closure in 1871 it was a central fixture of the area. In 1865, the extension of the Dewdney Trail from Rock Creek to Wild Horse Creek provided early pioneers with the first route into the Christina Lake region that didn't require travelling through American territory. However, settlement of the Boundary didn't really begin until the late 1880s and early 1890s.
By the late 1890s Cascade City was a bustling community of approximately 1000 residents, with its own newspaper, The Cascade Record. The Cascade Water Power & Light Co. Ltd. was incorporated in 1898, and started building its dam across the Kettle River. The powerhouse at Cascade would provide electric power to Grand Forks, Phoenix and Greenwood, as well as to various local mines and smelters. However, this prosperity was to be short-lived; on September 30, 1899 Cascade was hit by the first in a series of devastating fires. The business district of the town was severely affected, and the second major fire, in the summer of 1901, caused further damage, leaving only one store and one hotel standing. A town which had boasted over a dozen hotels only a few years earlier was on its way to becoming a ghost town. Today, the magnificent gorge can be seen from the bridge on Highway 395 or by following trails that lead to closer vantage points.
Image Courtesy of BC Archives - Source from Call Number B-09285
Certainly, as you drive through on the highway today, Christina Lake appears quiet and secluded. The frantic energy of the prospecting era and the expansive optimism of the years surrounding the turn of the century may be hidden behind today's laid-back community, but the legacy of the lake's early residents lives on in the entrepreneurial spirit of the lake's booming tourism sector. And glimpses of the old days remain for those who care to look. Christina Lake remains one of British Columbia's best kept secrets. Come and explore the region for yourself - who knows what you may uncover!
Download an expanded version of the history of Christina Lake as a PDF file
Barlee, N.L. Gold Creeks and Ghost Towns.
Boundary Historical Society (ed). Boundary Historical Reports, No. 1,4,6. Grand Forks. 1958, 1964, 1971.
Glanville, A. & J. Grand Forks: Where the Kettle River Flows. Kelowna: Blue Moose Publications, 1997.
Sandner, L. Christina Lake: An illustrated History. Merritt: Sonotek
Publishing Ltd, 1994.
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