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Pemberton, British Columbia

Pemberton, British Columbia

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Pemberton is a village north of Whistler
Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler is a Canadian resort town in the southern Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains in the province of British Columbia, Canada, approximately north of Vancouver...

 in the Pemberton Valley
Pemberton Valley
The Pemberton Valley is a valley flanking the Lillooet River upstream from Lillooet Lake, including the communities of Mount Currie, Pemberton, British Columbia and the agricultural district surrounding them and flanking the river as far upstream as the Pemberton Meadows area...

 of British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, with a population of 2,192. Until the 1960s the village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

 could be accessed only by train
A train is a connected series of vehicles for rail transport that move along a track to transport cargo or passengers from one place to another place. The track usually consists of two rails, but might also be a monorail or maglev guideway.Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate...

 but that changed when Highway 99 was built through Whistler
Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler is a Canadian resort town in the southern Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains in the province of British Columbia, Canada, approximately north of Vancouver...

 (then named Alta Lake
Alta Lake, British Columbia
Alta Lake was a recreational community and railway station on the west side of Alta Lake. It is now a neighbourhood of Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. The post office was renamed Whistler in 1976 when the area was incorporated as part of the Resort Municipality of Whistler.-References:**...

) and Pemberton.


The climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

 of Pemberton is very warm and dry in the summer and mild and wet in the winter.


1827 was the year in which Hudson's Bay men first penetrated the valleys of the Birkenhead
Birkenhead River
The Birkenhead River, formerly known as the Portage River, the Pole River and the Mosquito River, is a major tributary of the Lillooet River, which via Harrison Lake and the Harrison River is one of the major tributaries of the lower Fraser River...

 and Lillooet River
Lillooet River
The Lillooet River is a major river of the southern Coast Mountains of British Columbia. It begins at Silt Lake, on the southern edge of the Lillooet Crown Icecap about 80 kilometres northwest of Pemberton and about 85 kilometres northwest of Whistler...

s. Frances Ermantinger arrived then by way of Seton and Anderson Lakes, and James Murray Yale
James Murray Yale
James Murray Yale was a clerk, and later, a chief trader for the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Langley.Yale was born in Lachine, Lower Canada in 1796. He joined the HBC in 1815, and served first at Fort Wedderburn on Lake Athabasca. In April 1817, he was kidnapped by North West Company men and...

 came three years later, having made the trip north from Fort Langley. In all likelihood both men were searching for a safe route for fur brigades from Kamloops and Fort Langley, for a route to bypass the lower Fraser River canyons.

In 1846, Alexander Caulfield Anderson
Alexander Caulfield Anderson
Alexander Caulfield Anderson was a Hudson's Bay Company fur-trader, explorer of British Columbia and civil servant....

 traveled through this country with the same purpose: to decide if company horses could make their way from the Fraser to present day Mt. Currie and on, by way of Lillooet and Harrison lakes, to Langley. By now, the lower Columbia River
Columbia River
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state...

, the main link with the interior, was American, and for that reason Governor Simpson
George Simpson (administrator)
Sir George Simpson was a Scots-Quebecer and employee of the Hudson's Bay Company . His title was Governor-in-Chief of Rupert's Land and administrator over the Northwest Territories and Columbia Department in British North America from 1821 to 1860.-Early years:George Simpson was born in Dingwall,...

 considered a new route “most highly important”. The men traveled on foot and by canoe from Kamloops to the south end of the lake named for the leader (Anderson Lake). Seton Lake
Seton Lake
Seton Lake is a freshwater fjord draining east via the Seton River into the Fraser River at the town of Lillooet, British Columbia, about 22 km long and 243 m in elevation and 26.2 square kilometres in area...

 was named for Admiral Seton, a relative of A.C. Anderson and the Birkenhead was the ship Admiral Seton commanded which sunk off the coast of Africa. The exploration party continued by what Anderson described as a “very good trail”, and camped overnight at the Birkenhead River. The next day, following the Birkenhead River, they reached the Mt. Currie area by late afternoon.

In 1858 the gold rush began and some 30,000 miners began the trek through traditional Lil’wat territory to the gold-fields at Lillooet B.C. Many miners who reached the gold-fields in the summer of 1858 intended to stay the winter and this created an urgent problem for Governor Douglas of Vancouver Island. The miners needed food and that food had to be transported to regions above the lower canyons of the Fraser, where there were no roads. Because he knew that twelve years earlier A.C. Anderson had traveled from Lillooet by a chain of lakes to Langley, Governor Douglas asked the fur-trader to survey a route linking all lakes between the north end of Harrison Lake and the Fraser. The total length of trail would be just over sixty-eight miles, the total length of all lakes nearly fifty-six miles.

Five hundred miners eager to reach the gold-bearing Fraser River
Fraser River
The Fraser River is the longest river within British Columbia, Canada, rising at Fraser Pass near Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains and flowing for , into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver. It is the tenth longest river in Canada...

 bars volunteered to build the trails. They established Port Douglas
Port Douglas, British Columbia
Port Douglas, sometimes referred to simply as Douglas, is a remote community in British Columbia, Canada at the head of Harrison Lake, which is the head of river navigation from the Strait of Georgia...

 and constructed a trail called Douglas Portage to the south end of Lillooet Lake and called it Port Pemberton. This was the first public works project in the newly formed crown colony of British Columbia and is also known as the Harrison-Lillooet gold rush trail.

Pemberton was named for Joseph Despard Pemberton
Joseph Despard Pemberton
Joseph Despard Pemberton was a surveyor for the Hudson's Bay Company, Surveyor General for the Colony of Vancouver Island, a pre-Confederation politician, a businessman and a farmer. He was born in 1821 in Dublin, Ireland and died in 1893 in Oak Bay, British Columbia...

, a surveyor for the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 and Surveyor-General for the Colony of Vancouver Island
Colony of Vancouver Island
The Colony of Vancouver Island , was a crown colony of British North America from 1849 to 1866, after which it was united with British Columbia. The united colony joined the Dominion of Canada through Confederation in 1871...

 in the 1850s. Joseph Pemberton had laid out Victoria's
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 78,000 within the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, which has a population of 360,063, the 15th most populous Canadian...

 townsite, and supervised the construction of British Columbia's first legislature building, "the Birdcages". Joseph Pemberton never visited the place that bears his name.

The little port developed to serve the Gold Rush and nearby farming settlement grew as mining traffic increased. Then very quickly, when traffic shifted to a route better than the one between Harrison Lake and Lillooet, most of the settlers moved on. One of the assets of the area would become widely known – the richness of the land – and small waves of settlement would continue until a new Pemberton would replace the first Port Pemberton.
On August 6, 2010, the village was evacuated due to a nearby landslide
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

 from Mount Meager
Mount Meager
Mount Meager, originally known as Meager Mountain, is a complex volcano in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor of southwestern British Columbia, Canada. It is located north of Vancouver at the northern end of the Pemberton Valley. Part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc of western North America, its summit is above...


Pemberton is also well-known as the home of famous personality, raging homosexual Natty P, known for his catchphrase “Push it aaaaallll up there!”


The village's look is slightly rustic and has the appearance of the set of an Old West
Western (genre)
The Western is a genre of various visual arts, such as film, television, radio, literature, painting and others. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, hence the name. Some Westerns are set as early as the Battle of...

 movie. This is partly deliberate for tourism image-making reasons but is also a legacy of the area's roots as part of the Lillooet Country
Lillooet Country
The Lillooet Country, also referred to as the Lillooet District., is a region spanning from the central Fraser Canyon town of Lillooet west to the valley of the Lillooet River, and including the valleys in between, in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Like other historical BC regions, it...

 and its ranching and mining culture.


Pemberton is an important agricultural community famous for producing seed potatoes, and diversifying into market gardening, cranberries, food products and events. The main seed potato producers are located along the Pemberton Meadows Road, many of whom have been there for generations. Agri-tourism is growing, pioneered by Mayor Sturdy's North Arm Farm and popularized by Slow Food Cycle Sunday. Organic farming is also a growth area, initiated by Helmers Organic Farm and Across The Creek Organics, and followed by Riverlands and a clutch of new young farmers. The Pemberton Farmers Institute is a body representing local agricultural affairs. Pemberton is vital to the food security of the Sea to Sky corridor.


Pemberton also has a small aerodrome (CYPS), with a runway long enough to handle certain commuter-sized planes and private jets. Pemberton Aerodrome serves as the airstrip for Whistler, which does not have enough room in its valley for an airport, although there are no scheduled flights into Pemberton at present.

Local bus transit service is provided by the Whistler and Valley Express
Whistler and Valley Express
Whistler Transit Ltd., a division of Pacific Western Transportation, operates the public transit service in Whistler and the Pemberton Valley area of British Columbia, Canada. Buses operate every day between 5:30 a.m. and 3 a.m...

. Bus service to Vancouver is provided by Maverick Coach Lines. Greyhound buses also offer transport. Passenger train service is no longer available on BC Rail, and although the route is still in use by Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer is a Canadian tour company offering Western Canadian vacation packages that operates trains on four rail routes through British Columbia and Alberta.-Background:...

, the train does not stop in Pemberton.

Pemberton Festival

On July 25- 27, 2008, Pemberton hosted the Pemberton Festival
Pemberton Festival
The Pemberton Festival was a three-day summer music festival inaugurated in 2008. It was held in Pemberton, British Columbia, a village just north of popular ski resort Whistler. Produced by Live Nation Canada, the festival featured primarily rock and indie rock musicians, with a small proportion...

, which had a musical lineup of 66 acts including Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails is an American industrial rock project, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio. As its main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails and remains solely responsible for its direction...

, Coldplay
Coldplay are a British alternative rock band formed in 1996 by lead vocalist Chris Martin and lead guitarist Jonny Buckland at University College London. After they formed Pectoralz, Guy Berryman joined the group as a bassist and they changed their name to Starfish. Will Champion joined as a...

, Jay-Z
Shawn Corey Carter , better known by his stage name Jay-Z, is an American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and occasional actor. He is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America, having a net worth of over $450 million as of 2010...

, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, The Tragically Hip
The Tragically Hip
The Tragically Hip, often referred to simply as The Hip, is a Canadian rock band from Kingston, Ontario, consisting of Gordon Downie , Paul Langlois , Rob Baker , Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fay . Since their formation in 1983 they have released 12 studio albums, two live albums, and 46 singles...

, Death Cab for Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie is an American alternative rock band formed in Bellingham, Washington in 1997. The band consists of Ben Gibbard , Chris Walla , Nick Harmer and Jason McGerr ....

, Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend is an American indie rock band from New York City that formed in 2006 and signed to XL Recordings. The Band has four members: Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson, and Chris Baio. The band released its first album Vampire Weekend in 2008, which produced the singles "Mansard...

, Metric
Metric (band)
Metric is a Canadian indie rock and New Wave band founded in 1998 in Toronto. The band has also at various times been based in Montreal, London, New York City and Los Angeles...

, and Interpol
Interpol (band)
Interpol is an American indie rock and post-punk revival band from New York City. Formed in 1997, the band's original line-up consisted of Paul Banks , Daniel Kessler , Carlos Dengler and Greg Drudy . Drudy left the band in 2000 and was replaced by Sam Fogarino...

. The festival was the first to be held in the valley since the Stein Voices for the Wilderness Festivals of 1989-90, held in nearby Mount Currie
Mount Currie, British Columbia
Mount Currie is a small community in British Columbia, 164 kilometres north-west of Vancouver and 40 kilometres north-west of Whistler along Highway 99....

, which drew over 35,000 people, the largest number of people in the valley since the gold rush. Its roster of artists included Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr. is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music, and has been credited for helping define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s...

, Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Douglas Cockburn OC is a Canadian folk/rock guitarist and singer-songwriter. His most recent album was released in March 2011. He has written songs in styles ranging from folk to jazz-influenced rock to rock and roll.-Biography:...

, and Spirit of the West
Spirit of the West
Spirit of the West are a Canadian folk rock band, who were popular on the Canadian folk music scene in the 1980s before evolving a blend of hard rock, Britpop, and Celtic folk influences which made them one of Canada's most successful alternative rock acts in the 1990s.-Early years:The band began...


Further reading

  • Beyond Garibaldi, Irene Ronayne, self-published
  • Pemberton: History of a Settlement, Frances Decker
  • People of the Harrison, Daphne Sleigh

External links