Thompson Country

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The Thompson Country, also referred to as The Thompson and in some ways as the Thompson Valley and historically known as the Couteau Country or Couteau District, is a historic geographic region of the Southern Interior of British Columbia, more or less defined by the basin of the Thompson River, a tributary of the Fraser and focused on the city of Kamloops.

The British Columbia Interior, BC Interior or Interior of British Columbia, usually referred to only as the Interior, is one of the three main regions of the Canadian province of British Columbia, the other two being the Lower Mainland, which comprises the overlapping areas of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, and the Coast, which includes Vancouver Island and also including the Lower Mainland.

Thompson River river in British Columbia

The Thompson River is the largest tributary of the Fraser River, flowing through the south-central portion of British Columbia, Canada. The Thompson River has two main branches, the South Thompson River and the North Thompson River. The river is home to several varieties of Pacific salmon and trout. The area's geological history was heavily influenced by glaciation, and the several large glacial lakes have filled the river valley over the last 12,000 years. Archaeological evidence shows human habitation in the watershed dating back at least 8,300 years. The Thompson was named by Fraser River explorer, Simon Fraser, in honour of his friend, Columbia Basin explorer David Thompson. Recreational use of the river includes whitewater rafting and angling.

Fraser River river in British Columbia, Canada

The Fraser River is the longest river within British Columbia, Canada, rising at Fraser Pass near Blackrock Mountain in the Rocky Mountains and flowing for 1,375 kilometres (854 mi), into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver. It is the 11th longest river in Canada. The river's annual discharge at its mouth is 112 cubic kilometres (27 cu mi) or 3,550 cubic metres per second (125,000 cu ft/s), and it discharges 20 million tons of sediment into the ocean.


Origin and usage

The term originated in the days of the fur trade as lying between New Caledonia to the north and the Columbia District or Oregon Country to the south. [1] It remains in use today, though not as an official designation, but in combination forms such as the Thompson-Okanagan or Thompson-Nicola Regional District or, in weather forecasts and tourism uses, Thompson-Shuswap. Although strictly referring to the entire Thompson basin, and potentially used in that context, more commonly it refers to the immediate vicinity of the Thompson River, with subareas such as the Bonaparte Country or Nicola Country usually referred to separately, and the term "North Thompson" used to refer to the valley of the North Thompson River. The term "South Thompson" refers not only to the short valley of the South Thompson River but also to Kamloops and towns westward along the Thompson and the Trans-Canada Highway as far as Spences Bridge. The Thompson Canyon downstream from there to Lytton at the Thompson's confluence with the Fraser, is usually referred to as being part of the Fraser Canyon, as is also the usual usage to mean the highway from Hope to Spences Bridge or sometimes Cache Creek.

New Caledonia was a fur-trading district of the Hudson's Bay Company that comprised the territory of the north-central portions of present-day British Columbia, Canada. Though not a British colony, New Caledonia was part of the British claim to North America. Its administrative centre was Fort St. James. The rest of what is now mainland British Columbia was called the Columbia Department by the British, and the Oregon Country by the Americans. Even before the partition of the Columbia Department by the Oregon Treaty in 1846, New Caledonia was often used to describe anywhere on the mainland not in the Columbia Department, such as Fort Langley in the Fraser Valley.

Columbia District Fur trading district in British North America

The Columbia District was a fur trading district in the Pacific Northwest region of British North America in the 19th century. Much of its territory overlapped with the disputed Oregon Country. It was explored by the North West Company between 1793 and 1811, and established as an operating fur district around 1810. The North West Company was absorbed into the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, under which the Columbia District became known as the Columbia Department. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 marked the effective end of the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia Department.

Oregon Country Early 19th century US fur trade district in North America

The Oregon Country was a predominantly American term referring to a disputed region of the Pacific Northwest of North America. The region was occupied by British and French Canadian fur traders from before 1810, and American settlers from the mid-1830s, with its coastal areas north from the Columbia River frequented by ships from all nations engaged in the maritime fur trade, most of these from the 1790s through 1810s being Boston-based. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 ended disputed joint occupancy pursuant to the Treaty of 1818 and established the British-American boundary at the 49th parallel.

Climate and terrain

The Thompson Country is semi-arid and desert-like, except in the upper reaches of the North Thompson and in the higher areas of the plateaus to the north and south of the river (the Bonaparte Plateau and Thompson Plateau respectively). Because of the low elevation of the valley's floor, winter temperatures are not too severe, and with the region in the immediate rainshadow or the Coast Mountains and Cascade Range, summer temperatures are among the hottest in Canada. The main image of the region is sagebrush and rangeland, with benchlands flanking the Thompson's deepening canyon from Savona downstream, and desert and, higher up, pine-covered mountains and hillsides flanking the river and Kamloops Lake, which lies at the heart of the region. Lytton vies with nearby Lillooet for the title of "Canada's Hot Spot", with summer temperatures regularly above 40 °C (100 °F)[ citation needed ]. Ranching is the historic core of the economy in the South Thompson and the adjoining Nicola and Bonaparte Countries, and also northeast of Kamloops in the Shuswap Highland country towards Adams Lake and the rest of the Shuswap Country. Logging and tourism are other traditionally-important industries, especially in the North Thompson.

The Bonaparte Plateau, in British Columbia, Canada, is a subarea of the larger Cariboo Plateau which extends to the Quesnel River and lies between the Cariboo Mountains on the east and the Fraser River on the west. The Cariboo Plateau is a subarea of the Interior Plateau, aka the Fraser Plateau.

Thompson Plateau

The Thompson Plateau, also known as the Okanagan-Thompson Plateau, forms the southern portion of the Interior Plateau of British Columbia, Canada, lying to the west of Okanagan Lake, south of the Thompson River and to the east of the Fraser River. At its most southern point the plateau is squeezed by the mountainous terrain of the Cascade Range abutting closer to the Okanagan Valley. Its southwestern edge abuts the Canadian Cascades portion of that extensive range, more or less following the line of the Similkameen River, its tributary the Tulameen River, and a series of passes from the area of Tulameen, British Columbia to the confluence of the Thompson River with the Nicoamen River, a few miles east of Lytton, British Columbia, which is in the Fraser Canyon. Its northeastern edge runs approximately from the city of Vernon, British Columbia through the valley of Monte Creek to the junction of the same name just east of the city of Kamloops. Northeast of that line is the Shuswap Highland.

Coast Mountains

The Coast Mountains are a major mountain range in the Pacific Coast Ranges of western North America, extending from southwestern Yukon through the Alaska Panhandle and virtually all of the Coast of British Columbia south to the Fraser River. The mountain range's name derives from its proximity to the sea coast, and it is often referred to as the Coast Range. The range includes volcanic and non-volcanic mountains and the extensive ice fields of the Pacific and Boundary Ranges, and the northern end of the volcanic system known as the Cascade Volcanoes. The Coast Mountains are part of a larger mountain system called the Pacific Coast Ranges or the Pacific Mountain System, which includes the Cascade Range, the Insular Mountains, the Olympic Mountains, the Oregon Coast Range, the California Coast Ranges, the Saint Elias Mountains and the Chugach Mountains. The Coast Mountains are also part of the American Cordillera—a Spanish term for an extensive chain of mountain ranges—that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western backbone of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica.


Most of the Thompson Country is the territory of the Secwepemc people. From Spences Bridge downstream the Thompson as well as the Nicola is the territory of the various Nlaka'pamux nations.

Secwepemc people in Canada

The Secwépemc, known in English as the Shuswap people, are a First Nations people residing in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Secwepemcúĺecw, their country, ranges from the eastern Chilcotin Plateau and the Cariboo Plateau southeast through the Thompson Country to Kamloops and the Shuswap Country, and spans the Selkirk Mountains and Big Bend of the Columbia River to include the northern part of the Columbia Valley region. The country's traditional territory covers approximately 145,000 square kilometres. They relied heavily on hunting, trading and fishing to support their communities. The Secwepemc are perhaps the most numerous of the Interior Salish peoples of British Columbia if based upon the numbers who speak their language.

Nlakapamux ethnic group

The Nlaka'pamux or Nlakapamuk, also previously known as the Thompson, Thompson River Salish, Thompson Salish, Thompson River Indians or Thompson River people, and historically as the Klackarpun, Haukamaugh, Knife Indians and Couteau Indians, are an indigenous First Nations people of the Interior Salish language group in southern British Columbia. Their traditional territory includes parts of the North Cascades region of Washington.

The Thompson Country, the South Thompson in particular, was one of the first areas of the Colony of British Columbia which were opened up to land alienation and active settlement. Originally traversed by fur traders using what was known as the Brigade Trail, which ran from the Okanagan via Kamloops northwestward to Green Lake, by the last leg of the Okanagan Trail from Washington Territory to the Fraser Canyon, and its western extremity was the key section of the Cariboo Road connecting the Fraser Canyon to the Cariboo Plateau and its distant goldfields, it has been the scene of many important episodes in the history of British Columbia. Many of the earliest ranches in the Interior remain today, with the Douglas Lake Ranch, based in the Nicola Country but spanning the Thompson and including some of the Shuswap, one of the world's largest. Near Cache Creek, the historic Ashcroft Manor and Semlin Ranch and others were British military land-grants, the Ashcroft and Semlin Ranches home respectively to a Lieutenant-Governor and a Premier. The Thompson's settlement and history and economy have been dominated by the presence of both transcontinental rail lines flanking the Thompson, with the Canadian National Railway coming down the North Thompson, the Canadian Pacific Railway along the South Thompson.

Okanagan Region of British Columbia, Canada

The Okanagan, also known as the Okanagan Valley and sometimes as the Okanagan Country, is a region in the Canadian province of British Columbia defined by the basin of Okanagan Lake and the Canadian portion of the Okanagan River. It is part of the Okanagan Country, extending into the United States as Okanogan County in north-central Washington. According to the 2016 Canadian census, the region's population is 362,258. The primary city is Kelowna.

Green Lake is a lake in the South Cariboo region of British Columbia, Canada, located east of 70 Mile House. The lake is a popular recreational residential area frequented by owners from the Lower Mainland. Several locations around the lake are part of Green Lake Provincial Park.

Okanagan Trail

The Okanagan Trail was an inland route to the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush from the Lower Columbia region of the Washington and Oregon Territories in 1858-1859. The route was essentially the same as that used by the Hudson's Bay Company fur brigades, following the Columbia River to the confluence of the Okanogan River, and then up that river's watercourse via Osoyoos, Skaha (Dog) and Okanagan Lakes, then using a pass via Monte Creek to Fort Kamloops, at the confluence of the North and South Thompson Rivers. The route then went west from there down the Thompson River either to the lower gold-bearing bars of the Fraser River between what is now Lytton, British Columbia and Yale, British Columbia, or via Hat Creek and Marble Canyon to the upper Fraser goldfields around present-day Lillooet, British Columbia. A shorter branch-route to the lower Thompson and lower Fraser Canyon diverged from the main route at the confluence of the Similkameen River and the Okanogan. Cayoosh and The Fountains are today's Lillooet, British Columbia and environs.

See also

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Fraser Canyon

The Fraser Canyon is a major landform of the Fraser River where it descends rapidly through narrow rock gorges in the Coast Mountains en route from the Interior Plateau of British Columbia to the Fraser Valley. Colloquially, the term "Fraser Canyon" is often used to include the Thompson Canyon from Lytton to Ashcroft, since they form the same highway route which most people are familiar with, although it is actually reckoned to begin above Williams Lake, British Columbia at Soda Creek Canyon near the town of the same name.

Clear Range mountain in Canada

The Clear Range is a small mountain range located in the angle of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers in south-central British Columbia. It has a small subdivision just northeast of that confluence named the Scarped Range. The Clear Range totals 16,270 km² (6,280 mi²) and is 75 km (47 mi) north to south and 35 km (22 mi) east to west. The Clear Range and its norhtward neighbour the Marble Range are both subranges of the Pavilion Range.

Cariboo Plateau

The Cariboo Plateau is a volcanic plateau in south-central British Columbia, Canada. It is part of the Fraser Plateau that itself is a northward extension of the North American Plateau. The southern limit of the plateau is the Bonaparte River although some definitions include the Bonaparte Plateau between that river and the Thompson, but it properly is a subdivision of the Thompson Plateau. The portion of the Fraser Plateau west of the Fraser River is properly known as the Chilcotin Plateau but is often mistakenly considered to be part of the Cariboo Plateau, which is east of the Fraser.

Cariboo was one of the twelve original electoral districts created when British Columbia became a Canadian province in 1871. Roughly corresponding to the old colonial electoral administrative district of the same name, it was a three-member riding until the 1894 election, when it was reduced through reapportionment and became a two-member riding until the 1916 election, after which it has been a single-member riding. It produced many notable Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), including George Anthony Boomer Walkem, third and fifth holder of the office of Premier of British Columbia and who was one of the first representatives elected from the riding; John Robson, ninth Premier of British Columbia; and Robert Bonner, a powerful minister in the W.A.C. Bennett cabinet, and later CEO of MacMillan Bloedel and BC Hydro.

Clinton, British Columbia Village in British Columbia, Canada

Clinton is a village in British Columbia, Canada, located approximately 40 km northwest of Cache Creek and 30 km south of 70 Mile House.

Nicola, also Nkwala or N'kwala, was an important First Nations political figure in the fur trade era of the British Columbia Interior as well as into the colonial period (1858–1871). He was grand chief of the Okanagan people and chief of the Nicola Valley peoples, an alliance of Nlaka'pamux and Okanagans and the surviving Nicola Athapaskans, and also of the Kamloops Band of the Shuswap people.

The Hudson's Bay Brigade Trail, sometimes referred to simply as the Brigade Trail, refers to one of two routes used by Hudson's Bay Company fur traders to transport furs, goods and supplies between coastal and Columbia District headquarters at Fort Vancouver and those in New Caledonia and also in Rupert's Land. Importantly the route was that used by the annual "Hudson's Bay Express", a shipment of the company books and profits to company headquarters.

The Nicola Country, also known as the Nicola Valley and often referred to simply as The Nicola, and originally Nicolas' Country or Nicholas' Country, adapted to Nicola's Country and simplified since, is a region in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. It is the main subregion of the larger Thompson Country and is often referred to separately, or in combination forms, notably the Thompson-Nicola Regional District. The combination Nicola-Similkameen is also common.