This city of 90,000 (in 2019) was founded in 1812 by the North West Company, later taken over by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Kamloops is at the junction of the North and south branches of the Thompson River at Kamloops Lake, and now sits where the Trans-Canada Highway (#1) meets the Coquihala (#5).
The name comes from Shuswap phrase “T’kumlups” for “the meeting of the waters.” The area around the city is rolling hills with forests, grasslands, and hoodoos.
Kamloops began as a fur trading post in 1812, and boomed during the 1860s Cariboo Gold Rush as “overlanders” came down the North Thompson. Once the gold ran out, the area matured into cattle and sheep ranches. The coming of the transcontinental railroad in 1886 started Kamloops lobbying to be the provincial capital. In 1893, the community incorporated when it had a population of 1,000.
Today lumber is also an important resource, with many people employed in logging and processing (the local lumber mill offers summer tours). There are several large copper mines in the Highland Valley to the south. Ranching in the area is big, with over a thousand ranches, and several famous ones: Harpers, Douglas Lake, and Quilchena.
The city bills itself as the “tournament capital of Canada” and hosted the Canada Summer Games in 1993. The town has an impressive 84 baseball fields, 73 soccer fields, five ice arenas, 10 gymnasiums, 53 tennis courts, eleven golf courses, and a 5000 seat stadium.
Kamloops Festivals & Events
|Okanagan Icewine Festival||mid Jan||This unique wine festival offers wine lovers the opportunity to sample spectacular wines during the the Sun Peaks Progressive Tasting and attend wine masters dinners and educational seminars. The Icewine Festival offers two and three night packages including hotel accommodations, skiing and icewine events Sun Peaks Resort 250 861-6654|
|Kamloops Cowboy Festival||Early March||BC Cowboy Heritage Society presentation includes a western trade show, western art,|
western music and cowboy poetry March 7-10, 2002 at the Calvary Temple.. Toll Free: 1-888-763-2224
Phone: (250) 828-8772
|Kamloops Spring Classic Hunter/Jumper Show||Early-May||At the Kamloops Exhibition Associaton (KXA). Approx 250 entries from all over BC, Alta & USA. FREE admission. Call 314-9645|
|Mother’s Day Delight||Early-May||A popular family event at the Kamloops Wildlife Park. Call 373-3242 for details.|
|Team Roping Event||Mid-May||Team ropers from all over Western Canada & the USA come to Kamloops to compete. FREE admission. Concession & beer garden. Contact Phone: (708) 674-5288 Ronald Schmidt|
|Heritage Day||Late May||Kamloops Wildlife Park. Call 373-3242 for details.|
|Music in the Park||July through August||Evenings in Kamloops just got a bit more beautiful. Sit and relax with your family and friends while you listen to the array of performers.|
|Canada Day Celebrations in Kamloops||Jul 1||Ethnic entertainment with music & dancing, food booths, games, Youth Award, arts & crafts displays/sales, tree planting. Riverside Park 250-828-3695|
|Cattle Drive||Mid-July||Cattle Drive for vacationers from all over the world, fulfilling a dream of being a “cowboy” for a week|
|Annual Palmers Gulch Cowboy Action Shoot||early July||Provincial Championship Cowboy Action Shoot. Enjoy, relax, have fun & be safe. Camping unlimited. Since 1993. Palmers Gulch 250-994-3332|
|Annual Kamloops PowWow Days||August||A three-day event held annually which attracts approximately 1,300 performers, competitors, arts and crafts people, and more than 15,000 spectators. Tickets may be purchased at the entrance of the powwow grounds during powwow weekend. (250) 828-9680|
|9th Annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival||Late July||A four-day country and western concert presenting top performers from all over North America. Headliners in the past have featured top names like Brooks and Dunn, Pam Tillis, Randy Travis, and Michelle Wright|
call toll-free 1-877-330-3377
|The RiversAnnual Family Festival||late July||Family Fun, since 1994. Riverside Park 250-372-2197|
Kamloops In-town Attractions
Kamloops Art Gallery
207 Seymour S
The gallery shows works by local contemporary artists, including paintings, sculpture, photos, and video art. Open 9a m- 8 pm July & August; Mon-Sat 10 am – 5pm, Sundays 1pm – 5 pm the rest of the year. Admission.
Kamloops Heritage Railway
6-510 Lorne Street
Kamloops, BC, V2C 1W3
250-374-2141, Fax: 250-372-5332
Heritiage steam trains take you from the grasslands of the Thompson River Valley to the mountains, lakes and streams of the Salmon River Valley. Highlights include travelling through a 493-foot tunnel and around a unique 1 mile horseshoe curve, and along the 2 mile shoreline of Monte Lake. The Spirit of Kamloops runs from June 29 – August 27, and leave Kamloops on Mondays 7 pm, Fridays 7 pm Saturdays 11 am & 7 pm.
Kamloops Museum & Archives
207 Seymour St
The museum portrays the area’s history, including Indian culture, a reconstructed Hudson’s Bay fur trading cabin, pioneer artifacts, transportation items, and natural history specimens.
St Joseph’s Church
west on Chilcotin Rd, off Mt St Paul Way
This church was built by Roman Catholic missionaries and the Kamloops Indian Band in the late 1800s and has been meticulously renovated, including its gilded altar and its period artifacts. The church and adjoining cemetery are open to visitors July 1 to Labour Day.
Rocky Mountain Rangers Museum and Archives
1221 McGill Rd
(JR Vicars Armoury, Box 3250)
Museum of this regiment is located inside the JR Vicars Armoury, a fully operational army reserve regiment.
Secwepemc Native Heritage Park
# 311-355 Yellowhead Highway
Kamloops, BC, V2H 1H1
This museum (pronounced “she-kwe-pem”)interprets the history of the Secwepemc or Kamloops people and sits on their reserve on the banks of the South Thompson River. The Kamloops band is one of 17 that make up the Secwepemc Indians, which have occupied the territory between the Rockies and the Fraser for over 4,000 years. There is a museum, a full-scale reconstruction of a traditional Shuswap winter village in five different historical periods, and a 2,400 year old archaeological site. Native song, dance and theatre for part of the visitor experience.
Sunmore Ginseng Spa & Factory
925 McGill Rd
Visitor Centre – 1-800-662-1994
Spa & Tea Garden – 250-372-2814
Healthtech Ginseng Showroom – 250-374-3017
The climate in Kamloops makes for perfect conditions to grow American Ginseng, thus attracting the Sunmore Ginseng Factory which grows its ginseng on the fertile soils of the Kamloops Valley.
Mission Flats Rd, by airport
See a working pulp mill and sawmill. Daily tours 10 am from may to early September. Other times by prior arrangement. Ages 12 and up, must wear long sleeves and pants, with close-toed shoes.
Kamloops Nearby Attractions
10 km west on Tranquille Rd from North Kamloops
This is an active waterfowl habitat, particularly during the spring and fall migrations. Over a hundred species including whistling swans, trumpeter swans, Canada geese, snow geese and pelicans, can be seen from the road. From Red Lake Road, you can often see bighorn sheep.
BC Wildlife Park (formerly Kamloops Wildlife Park)
18 km east on Highway 1
This children’s zoo has more than 150 species of animals (both native and exotic) in their natural settings. Also with miniature railway rides and a picnic facility. Open 8am – 8 pm in July & August; 8 am – 4:30 the rest of the year.
Great Train Robbery site
30 kilometres east, at Monte Creek
Bill Miner, the notorious train and stagecoach robber held up a CPR train in 1906 (though only stole $15), and was tracked 80 kilometres before his capture. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in BC but escaped to the US in 1907. This is the subject of the feature film “The Grey Fox.”