UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

History and economic development of the Shuswap area Akrigg, Helen Brown


The problem which this thesis seeks to answer is why the Shuswap region of British Columbia, centrally located in the southern part of the province between Kamloops and Revelstoke, endowed with so many natural advantages of climate and scenery, of location on early water routes and later arterial railway and highways, has remained relatively unimportant in the economy of the province. In the process of finding answers to this problem a systematic study has been made, first of the topography and the natural resources of the area, then of the experiences of those who first sought to open up the region, and finally of the development of mining, agriculture, lumbering and the tourist trade. From the analysis of the growth, or sometimes of the decline, of these industries, much information has been obtained as to the deficiencies of the area in natural resources, the handicaps imposed by the Shuswap region's distance from major markets, and the problems encountered by the inhabitants in utilizing some of the resources. Basically, the area lacks rich natural resources - there is little mineralization; the areas of arable land are limited and are scattered in pockets through the region; the timber resources are not as extensive as at first appears, vast stands of mature timber having been burned over since' settlement came into the area, and much of the remaining timber having a high incidence of disease. Both lumbering and agriculture have been handicapped by high transportation costs because of the remoteness of the area from major markets. The recent vastly increased number of tourists and summer residents in the Shuswap area (much of it due to the completion of the Trans- Canada Highway through Rogers Pass) is responsible for a recent upswing in the region's economy and augurs well for the future. The conclusion is finally reached that the tourist trade is the sole activity which offers real prospect of future development. The Shuswap country's lovely scenery, hundreds of miles of lakeshore, and fine climate have proved to be its major natural resource. The main difficulty encountered in working on this thesis has been finding the necessary data. A certain amount of information is available in printed government documents - in gazettes, sessional papers, annual reports, memoirs and reports of royal commissions. Newspapers, both early and more recent, have proved helpful, as have a few books and some theses. The resources of the University Library, the Provincial Archives, the Vancouver Public Library's Northwest Room and the Kamloops Museum were used. But much vital information was still missing. To make good the deficiencies in the printed materials, many old-timers around Shuswap Lake were interviewed and, in a number of cases, their conversations were tape recorded. These talks were most helpful in securing a general picture of the process of settlement and the history of various industrial and land settlement schemes. Extensive correspondence was carried on with various individuals, government departments and companies, asking for specific information. Much time was spent in personally interviewing key civil servants in such sections as the Legal Surveys Division, the Water Resources Service and the British Columbia Forest Service of the Department of Lands and Forests in Victoria. Thanks to these contacts, permission was obtained to dig deep into files at least fifty years old or, where the files had been destroyed, to use the microfilm copies that had been made for departmental use. Finally, a reasonably balanced and full picture of the growth of the area began to emerge.

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