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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 47

Kamloops-Shuswap District

Kamloops-Shuswap District.

Let us enter the district from the east. Columbia River is 44 miles from Shuswap Lake, viâ Eagle Pass. Three Valley Lake (altitude 1912 feet) is about 34 miles from Shuswap Lake. Directly south from Three Valley Lake is a long, wide, grassy valley, which leads across a low "divide" to the headwaters of the Shuswap or Spillemeechene River. This is a gentle river flowing through a large valley, much of which has clay subsoil; fine fall-wheat without irrigation; very good and heavy crops here; only about half-a-dozen energetic settlers; large farm-buildings; well fenced fields; Indians at work on farms; fine bunch-grass on the high land, round which the river makes a southern bend.

A farmer on the Shuswap Prairie thrashed out 80 tons of wheat in 1872; two other farmers 40 tons each. Prices here of very superior extra flour, 12 dollars (48s. English) per barrel of 196 lbs.; choice bacon, 25 cents (1s. 0½d. English) per lb.; juicy beef 10 cents (5d. English) per lb.

Leaving the Shuswap or Spillemeechcne River at a point, say beyond page 66 where Cherry Creek joins it, there is between that point and the head of the Okanagan Lake a district of open prairie and sparsely timbered land, abounding in rich pasturage and dotted with a few farming settlements.

From the head of Okanagan Lake to the Thompson River (south branch) is about 45 miles north-west. Leaving the open, rolling, bunch-grass valleys of Okanagan, you first ascend for about 20 miles through timber land; reach Grand Prairie—fine soil, luxuriant bunch-grass, dotted with cattle; the prairie 16 miles by 2 miles, bounded by hills; a river between; elevation (1450 feet) causes some danger from night frost. Grand Prairie to Thompson River—glittering stream through valley, bordered by alders and willows, green meadows, clumps of trees, small lakes; good soil ready for cultivation.

From the nearest point at which you strike the South Thompson River down to its meeting (forks) with its north branch is 16 miles of open grass country. At the junction stands Kamloops, a few miles from the head of Kamloops Lake—25 miles long—(see Map); rolling prairie land, with fine grass, and also some fertile valleys on southern bank of lake.

There is an open, or lightly timbered bunch-grass country along the banks of the North Thompson River, and north of Kamloops Lake, for 130 miles.

Several English gentlemen from the American side have taken a prairie of 2000 acres on the North Thompson, a short distance from Kamloops, and are making a long ditch for irrigation.

In 1871 the yield of grain on the Tranquille and north and south branches of the Thompson River was a million and a quarter pounds.

The whole Kamloops-Shuswap district is a district of table-land, with considerable depressions—abundant pasture, generally free from forests, and only interspersed with timber; summer climate dry, great heat; winter frequently very cold for a day or two, but on the whole not very sharp; snow generally lies a short time only; cattle are driven here to winter in severe seasons; Hudson's Bay Company used to "winter out" 500 horses here, including brood mares and young horses. This district will doubtless become known again as a mineral district. The first gold found in quantity by the natives was found in this district, and fair wages are still made on the Thompson River. The Thompson, near its mouth, is too full, rapid, and rocky for mining.

Kamloops itself is likely to be a distributing centre for the fine country around it, even if the Canadian Pacific Railway does not come to help the infant city; schools, visiting clergymen, three fine stores already, three hotels, two blacksmiths' shops, &c. Hudson's Bay Company building a store (60 by 40 feet), and going to keep more goods than hitherto; sawmill 20 miles up the north branch of the Thompson; good grist-mill, generally busy, on the Tranquille (flows from north into Kamloops Lake); the Tranquille Mill grinds a good deal for the North and South Thompson districts, and also portion of the Okanagan country. In 1872 wheat was sold for 2 to 2¼ cents per lb. (1d. to English), delivered to merchants at Kamloops or to the Tranquille Mill. The higher price was towards the end of the year, and arose partly from the requirements of the Canadian Railway survey.