Thompson / Okanagan / Kootenay

Kamloops Lake, balancing rock (by Melanie Smith)
Kamloops Lake, balancing rock (by Melanie Smith)

Senator Nancy Greene Raine has chosen to represent primarily the region of Thompson/Okanagan/Kootenay in the interior of British Columbia. This region has spectacular natural beauty featuring beautiful lakes, rivers and mountain ranges and a moderate climate. The region was well settled by the Scwecpmec, Okanagan and Kootenai people First Nations when Europeans arrived, first as explorers, then to build the railway, and later as prospectors looking for gold. Many of the original non-native settlements were built for the gold and silver mines and the region is dotted with old towns, some that eventually became ghost towns, and others that survive as vibrant communities with a rich history and culture.

Bordered on the east by the Canadian Rockies and Alberta, and on the south by the US Border, the region includes the Selkirk, Monashee, Cariboo and Cascade mountain ranges. Great rivers flow between the mountains and become identifying features of the different regions: the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers of the East and West Kootenays. with the main communities being Cranbrook, Nelson and Trail. To the west is the Okanagan Valley, with beautiful lakes and the cities of Penticton, Kelowna, and Vernon. Orchards and vineyards dominate the landscape, with golf courses and summer resorts along the lakes. North of the Okanagan is the Thompson Region with the South Thompson River flowing west from Shuswap Lake to join the North Thompson at Kamloops, a vibrant trading city, now home of Thompson Rivers University and the centre of BC’s cattle ranching.

Grasslands near Kamloops (by Melanie Smith)
Grasslands near Kamloops (by Melanie Smith)

While the main cities and towns in the region are located in the valleys, it is often the back country and high country that leave a lasting impression on visitors. Home to many ski resorts as well as back country and heli skiing lodges, and crossed with a plethora of back roads and hiking trails, the whole region is an outdoor enthusiast’s Mecca.

Nancy Greene Raine grew up in the small town of Rossland, in the West Kootenays, where her parents were founding members of the local ski club that built one of the first chairlifts in Canada. She now makes her home in Sun Peaks, a mountain community just north of Kamloops boasting Canada’s second largest ski area.