Sicamous, British Columbia Canada

Discover Sicamous, British Columbia: A Historical and Tourism Perspective

Sicamous, a district municipality in the Shuswap Country region of south central British Columbia, is a place of rich history and natural beauty. Located at the confluence of Mara Lake into Shuswap Lake, Sicamous is approximately 73 kilometres west of Revelstoke, 140 kilometres east of Kamloops, and 75 kilometres north of Vernon.

The First Nations and Fur Traders of Sicamous, British Columbia

The Secwepemc (Shuswap) First Nations have long inhabited the shores of Shuswap and Mara lakes, with evidence of pit-houses dating back over 3,200 years. An annual potlach was held at the mouth of the Eagle River. From the early 1820s, they traded furs at the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) fort at Kamloops. By the 1840s, an HBC outpost opened at the mouth of the Eagle River, providing an abundance of salmon and creating a trade in dried fish. A trail on the north side of the river was used up to the 1930s to reach tracts of wild blueberry bushes.

The Origin of the Name Sicamous, British Columbia

The earliest known spelling of the First Nations word for Sicamous was "Schik-mouse", recorded in 1865. The word describes the narrows, but the specific aspect has remained unclear. Suggestions have been "place cut through", "the narrows", "stream winding round a hill", "river circling mountains", "in the middle", and "narrow" or "squeezed in the middle". The Sicamous Channel is the only inland port in BC that does not freeze during the winter.

The Earlier General Community at the Eagle River Mouth in Sicamous, British Columbia

During the Big Bend Gold Rush of 1865, Governor Frederick Seymour commissioned Walter Moberly to identify the best route for a wagon road or railway from Shuswap Lake to the Columbia River. Although most prospectors travelled via Seymour Arm, many instead went up the Eagle River and followed First Nations trails to the Columbia. Moberly camped at the river mouth in 1865, which was soon called Eagle Pass Landing, because the river flowed from the direction of the Eagle Pass. A boom town of tents sprang up at the landing. The main buildings were an assay office, general store, blacksmith, and saloons, which were largely abandoned by the end of the following year, when the goldrush ended.

The Earlier General Community West of the Narrows in Sicamous, British Columbia

In 1884, Colonel E. Forester constructed the first building, which was the Lake View Hotel. In 1887, he built a two-storey extension which housed a store on the ground floor, was appointed postmaster, and erected a barn. The Kamloops general store owned by John Andrew Mara operated this Sicamous store as a branch. At that time, a narrow and swampy in places wagon road was built to supersede the trail southward along the western side of Mara Lake, which connected Sicamous and Enderby. Schubert Bros. established a stage service on the route.

The Main Line Railway in Sicamous, British Columbia

In August 1871, as a symbolic gesture that the railway would one day become a reality, Ed Mohun, government engineer, drove the first stake on the CP route in BC at Sicamous. In September 1885, the eastward advance of the CP rail head from Port Moody passed through Sicamous, reaching a point about 55 kilometres west of Revelstoke by month end. A construction camp was based at Solsqua. The Sicamous station built at that time was the standard-design (Bohi's Type 3) station building with prominent overhang.

The Ferry and Road Bridges Over the Narrows in Sicamous, British Columbia

Established in 1933, the subsidised ferry was operated by Bob Congreve throughout its existence. Described as two riverboats about 9-metre long, 6-metre apart, straddled by a railed platform, the former Squilax reaction ferry was manoeuvred by either an outboard or his power-boat. The season was May to the end of December. The hours were 7am–10pm and the fare was 50 cents per car.

The Forestry Industry in Sicamous, British Columbia

In 1902, the province incorporated the Shuswap Shingle and Lumber Co. to acquire certain lumber businesses that James C. Shields owned, which included the shingle mill 7 kilometres west at Annis. James remained as manager. By 1904, the operation was part of the Kamloops Lumber Company, which included large sawmills at Kamloops and Enderby.

The Later Community of Sicamous, British Columbia

Growth has depended upon the resort industry and the state of the energy sector in Alberta (30 per cent of occupancy being seasonal). A houseboat manufacturing industry exists and rental stock totals about 250 units. The town includes infrastructure typical for its size. The stores, restaurants, museum, library, trails, parks, beaches, and boating, cater to leisure activities. Emergency services bases exist for police, fire, and ambulance.

Demographics of Sicamous, British Columbia

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Sicamous had a population of 2,613 living in 1,244 of its 1,905 total private dwellings, a change of 7.6% from its 2016 population of 2,429. With a land area of 12.8 km2, it had a population density of 204.1/km2 in 2021. According to the 2021 census, religious groups in Sicamous included: Irreligion (1,605 persons or 61.0%) Christianity (995 persons or 37.8%) Catholic (190 persons or 7.2%) Anglican (140 persons or 5.3%) United Church (135 persons or 5.1%) Lutheran (55 persons or 2.1%) Baptist (50 persons or 1.9%) Pentecostal (50 persons or 1.9%) Other Christian (375 persons or 14.3%) Other (10 persons or 0.4%)