A Brief History of the Kettle Valley Railway
As the interior of British Columbia revealed more and more wealth in deposits of copper, silver and gold there arose the need to build extensive railway systems throughout both Western Canada and the Northwest USA. A great deal of competition arose between rivalry railways – particularly the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the Great Northern Railway. Both wanted access to the Boundary Region of BC and many a battle was fought over the area. Midway, or Mile 0, was the stage for many of these brawls and it was here that Andrew McCulloch began his engineering feat for the victorious CPR in 1910. With not only battles of men to contend with, this new railway then had to be built through the forces of nature, including the Myra Canyon which was eventually crossed with no less than 18 trestles and 2 tunnels with a 2.2% grade. The railway was completed on May 31, 1915 and stretched from Midway across the southern interior to Merritt.
The TransCanadaTrail – Canada’s Great Trail
The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is one small but significant part of the world’s largest trail – the Trans Canada Trail. At over 22,000 kilometres in length it reaches 3 oceans – the Atlantic to the Pacific and north to the Arctic. It is a blend of historic trails, pathways, roadways and abandoned rail beds – such as the KVR.
This creation of one trail connecting the vast expanses, rich cultural heritage, communities and wilderness areas of Canada was begun with the Government announcement in 1992 during Canada’s 125th anniversary celebrations. Since then it has been a long, hard road of thousands of dedicated volunteers and organizers at all levels to see it gain momentum and become the grand trail it is today.
Some ambitious and dedicated cyclists and hikers have made their way across Canada and if you are looking for rides in the future, or to extend your Kettle Valley Rail Trail experience you will want to explore the Trans Canada Trail website.
They also have a Trail Locater on their site so you can pinpoint where you want to cycle and see if there is a trail in that area. You will see many signs along the route of the KVR designating the route as part of the TCT as well and there is a Trail Pavilion you may wish to visit in Penticton at the eastern end of Lakeshore Drive on the shores of the Okanagan Lake.
The trail also led to the creation of BC Trails in 1994 to help establish the British Columbia portion. This site now has some great information and maps on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail as well – just click on the towns on the left sidebar under General Information.