Kamloops Heritage Railway
Hop aboard a Kamloops Heritage Railway train and ride a 19th Century, steam-powered locomotive. Kamloops grew rapidly as a community soon after the Government of Canada’s trans-continental railway was completed in 1883. The railway was built to maintain sovereignty over the west after the discovery of gold brought many explorers from the United States and China. Thanks to the Kamloops Heritage Railway Society, visitors can ride the rails and learn about the history and heritage of Kamloops and area. All Spirit of Kamloops railway riders should be warned, because Billy Miner and his gang are back to re-enact their famous 1906 train robbery.
St. Andrews Church
It’s a miracle that St. Andrews Church has lived to be the oldest public building in Kamloops. Until 1990, the church had been bought and abandoned twice since first hosting a service on Christmas Day, 1887. St. Andrews had been built by Presbyterians on land donated by the Canadian Pacific Railway to serve Kamloops’ booming population after the completion of the Government of Canada’s trans-continental railway. Since 1887, St. Andrews has been used as a church, meeting hall and gymnasium: it was a registration building for the 1993 Canada Summer Games, one of many tournaments that Kamloops has hosted over the years. The City of Kamloops purchased St. Andrews in 1990 to prevent it from being demolished and later declared it a heritage site in 1995. Soon after, the Kamloops Heritage Society restored the church: beautiful wood interior and stained-glass windows can be appreciated at wedding ceremonies and other special events hosted at the church. St. Andrews Church is located in downtown Kamloops on Seymour Street, not far from Riverside Park and the banks of the Thompson River.
McAbee Fossil Beds
Previous visitors to the Kamloops area were buried alive by volcanoes that occurred about 50 million years ago. Fossils of fish, plants, insects, flowers and birds at the McAbee Fossil Beds indicate that a thriving community existed long before Kamloops was incorporated as a city in 1893! Areas east and west of Kamloops sit on what was formerly a lake: that’s the finding of a joint Geological Survey of Canada and British Columbia Geological Survey called GeoTour Guide for Kamloops, British Columbia: Our Land, Our Community. The lake and all species in it were covered by volcanic eruptions that took place over 50 million years ago. Thanks to a lack of oxygen at the bottom of the lake, plant and animal remains fossilized since scavenging animals were unable to eat them. As a result, the McAbee Fossil Beds east of Kamloops are a treasure trove of fossils for avid hunters.
The Balancing Rock
The Balancing Rock weighs several tonnes and teeters on a pointy clay hoodoo overlooking Kamloops Lake. A geologist might say that a force of nature created it, but legend has it that the rock, visible from the Trans Canada highway west of Kamloops, tells the tale of how the Secwepemc First Nation came to own the land around Kamloops Lake. Many years ago the Secwepemc and Okanagan First Nations let two of their strongest men decide who should own the land: since their's was able to perch the rock atop the pointy hoodoo, the Secwepemc First Nations won title over it.
Heritage Walking Tours
Taking a self-guided Heritage Walking Tour is a great way to learn about Kamloops’ history and burn-off that wonderful restaurant meal before heading back to the hotel. The tour connects with 30 heritage sites in the downtown area, including one on the Rivers Trail at Riverside Park; information about the sites can be obtained at the Kamloops Museum & Archives. Fur traders, gold miners and cattlemen rode the Nicola Wagon Road trail along the Thompson River, and the remains of this trail is one of the tour’s stops. Bill Miner would have avoided Frederick Fulton’s old house, which is now Garden Manor Personal Care Home, but the walking tour does not. What is today Venture Kamloops used to be the Inland Cigar Factory, where there’s no smoke-filled air anymore. Put on comfortable walking shoes and enjoy these sites as well as the anti-Victorian-era style houses and landmark buildings, such as St. Andrews on the Square, that still stand in Kamloops.