BC’s Best Little Secret
Located along Highway 3, in the Kootenay Boundary region of Southern British Columbia, you will find Greenwood – the “smallest city in Canada”. Although the incorporated city is small, with only 676 residents, it has become a centre for both the history buff, who wants to explore the Old West, and the nature lover, who wants to enjoy Greenwood’s year-round activities. The city is just a two-hour drive east of the major centre of Kelowna and 20 minutes north of the US border, and with its turn of the century architecture and pristine environment, Greenwood has become one of BC’s best kept secrets.
Greenwood’s rich history goes back to 1891 when gold, silver and copper were all discovered, bringing great prosperity to the city. Fortune seekers came from all over the world to the booming city, which had quickly become the epicenter of the mining and smelting industry in Boundary country with a boisterous population of 3500 souls. The city rose in stature to become the seat of government in the region with more than 100 companies in the business district. Sadly, the success was short-lived and by 1931 the gold boom had passed and there was no market for copper so the smelters shut and the population dwindled to just 171.
Then a tragic event that no one could have foreseen occurred to revitalize the city anew – Greenwood became BC’s first internment camp. After the bombing of Pearl Harbour on Dec 7, 1941, thousands of Japanese Canadians had their homes and assets seized and 1200 were forcibly relocated to many of the empty buildings in Greenwood. Many stayed after the war and the population began to rebound to the roughly 700 residents that remain today. O’Hairi Park, located in the centre of town, is dedicated to the Japanese Canadian citizens of Greenwood.
The city has proven its resiliency over the years and now is a destination rich with history. In his renowned Gold Trails and Ghost Towns series, Bill Barlee stated “Greenwood is one of the only two mining towns still in existence.” You can see the Victorian past in many of the
well-preserved buildings and homes. Be sure to stop at the Museum and Visitor Centre. They can arrange a tour of the court house at City Hall. This beautiful old building is one of the finest wooden structures in BC and was used as a BC Supreme Court in the County of Yale.
If you wanted to immerse yourself completely in history, you could stay at Fort Greenwood RV Park, dubbed “the Old West’s finest gated community”, which was built to reflect those good old-fashioned western values. The owners have always been fascinated with the Old West, and over the years amassed a collection of authentic Old West antiques. They believed the artifacts were an integral part of Canada’s heritage and built the Greenwood RV resort in true Old West style, complete with the Pioneer Village where their collection has finally found a home. Their Pioneer Village includes a dance hall, wash house, pool hall, entertainment room, exercise room and WiFi. Visit www.fortgreenwood.ca or call 1-866-650-6444 to learn more.
From here you can visit and explore all the old mine sites and ghost towns you want. There are hundreds of them —everything from the City of Paris ghost town site to the Tramway Bore tunnel.
Stroll down Main Street – with its great selection of shops and coffee houses. Be sure to stop at the Yellow Door Boutique, Copper Eagle Cappuccino and Bakery Ltd and Deadwood Junction Coffee and Bakery. There is even a saddle shop. The Pacific Grill was voted the best restaurant in Boundary country- it’s a great place for great food, don’t miss it.
For the outdoor enthusiast, there are many great adventures for all ages and fitness levels. Greenwood is proud that the Trans Canada Trail is so easily accessible to town. You can hike, bike or ride an ATV or horse up the old mining and logging roads, climb to the top of Jubilee Mountain, or hike to Boundary Falls. Fishing, boating and camping are favourites at Jewel Lake, just nine kilometres north.
Take a step back in time and enjoy life in Canada’s smallest city.