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Sunday, November 02, 2008

TOURING CANADA'S HISTORY: THREE VALLEY GAP, B.C.


Just a few miles east of Craigellachie, B.C. where the last spike of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway was driven in 1885, we round the curve of the Trans-Canada Highway and before us is an impressive 200-room chateau overlooking the shimmering water of Three Valley Lake.


Once this was only a marsh until 1956 when Gordon Bell bought the property and built a small motel and restaurant. Over the years the Bell family has developed this remarkable resort and chateau which now includes a chunk of B.C.’s history.

Gold rush mystique and railway history had always intrigued Gordon Bell. When he was just 16, working with a pick and shovel at a site 60 miles north of Revelstoke, he discovered the remains of a gold-rush town dating from 1862. Some of the equipment had been left behind when the town was abandoned in the early 1900’s. So Mr. Bell, decided to preserve the remains of the historic old town and began to collect artifacts and reconstruct buildings which are now on display at the Ghost Town, part of the Three Valley Gap Chateau complex.

Located 12 miles west of Revelstoke, the Chateau is nestled in the beautiful Monashee Mountains. Besides the Ghost Town, the resort offers many other activities for guests and visitors. Surrounded by pleasant gardens, there is a sandy beach for swimmers and water sports on the lake. You can also take a helicopter tour of the area. Nearby Revelstoke, a quiet picturesque town, is the gateway to the Rockies and home of two national parks, Mt. Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, where you can hike and ski. Revelstoke is also rich in history and many of the buildings here are restored to their original Victorian era splendor. Five km. north of Revelstoke, the Revelstoke Dam offers self-guided tours. The lakes around the area provide opportunities for boating and fishing. Or you can take a helicopter tour over the mountains and around the Valley


The Three Valley Gap Heritage Ghost Town has guided tours daily from mid-April to mid-October. It is built near the site of the original town of Three Valley, which flourished in the 1880’s. The Gold Wheel Saloon features an authentic 19th century bar. There’s also a historic three-story Hotel Bellevue originally from Sicamous, plus many other buildings such as a general store, school, trappers cabin and jail. It’s not hard to imagine what it must have been like to live in that era as you stroll the streets and peek into the shops.

The Railway Roundhouse where old railway memorabilia is stored is Canada’s largest display of railcars and equipment. I was excited to step onto a coach like the one my family traveled in across Canada to B.C. in the 1940’s. And what a thrill to visit the exclusive rail car once occupied by our Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau when he traveled across Canada by train in 1972. I stood on the back deck of the railcar exactly where he stood giving the famous Salmon Arm Salute to protesters that greeted him as he passed through that community. This is the same car that carried Queen Elizabeth II on her royal visit across the country in the 1970’s.



Among the collection of antique automobiles I found an old Model T Ford just like the one my mother used to drive when we lived on the prairies. And in the museum there were old church organs like the ones that provided music in the churches I used to attend as a child when my father was a Prairie minister.

A visit to the Ghost Town at Three Valley Gap is sure to evoke many memories as well as provide an insight into the past with it’s many displays of Canadian history.

The Chateau itself is a pleasant retreat where you can relax and enjoy spectacular scenery and the fresh mountain air.

Three Valley Lake Chateau
Tel.: 1-250--837-2109
Fax: 1-250-837-5220
Toll Free: 1-888-667-2109
www.3valley.com
Open mid-April through mid-October.
(Sorry, no pets allowed on the property)

Three Valley Gap Heritage Ghost Town
www.3valleygapheritageghosttown.com

Helicopter Sightseeing
www.glacierhelicopters.ca

Transportation links from Vancouver:

Air: Air service is offered from Vancouver to Kelowna with links to Kamloops (196 km from 3 Valley Gap) and Calgary.
Bus: Greyhound buses serve Revelstoke from Vancouver and the Okanagan and Calgary on a frequent daily basis. Arrangements can be made for getting off the bus at Three Valley Gap.
Rental Cars: Available from Revelstoke.

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2 comments:

Steven R. Duncan said...

We were there this summer on our Rolling Stock Prairie Theatre tour

http://www.rollingstockprairietheatre.blogspot.com/
An amazing dedication to history. Thanks for putting this out there. My camera died as we drove in the parking lot, so I'm glad you have so many cool pics.

S.

Wynn Bexton said...

I've got lots of photos and I'll also be putting a story up on my web site Travel Thru History