Kimberley, Canada. Editorial credit: Oleg Mayorov /

Kimberley, Canada

Kimberley is a Canadian city set within the picturesque Purcell Mountains, near the St. Mary's River in British Columbia. It is located at an elevation of 1,116 meters above sea level, north of the border with the U.S. It is the highest city in Canada. While many tourists visit Kimberley for its wintertime opportunities, others also visit the city to admire the fertile and beautiful Kootenay River Valley and the Rocky Mountains to the east. Set on the northeast face of North Star Hill, its vertical drop is 751 m, and its summit elevation is at 1,982 m. From Vancouver, Kimberley is 870 km or 10 hours worth of driving via Crowsnest Hwy/BC-3 E.

View of mountain resort in Kimberley, Canada.

Origin Of Kimberley

Set amongst the Sullivan and North Star hills in south-eastern British Columbia, Kimberley had a humble beginning dating back to 1892, with determined prospector Pat Sullivan staking claim to the area and turning it into one of the largest lead and zinc operations in the world. Back then, it was known as Mark Creek Crossing and renamed after the South African mining center to its present-day name in 1896. While winter sport tourism, logging and sawmilling, are important for the town's growth, one may be surprised to learn that even to this day, Kimberley's main industry and pillar of the economy depends on the Sullivan ore concentrator, a fertilizer factory, and an iron and steel plant.

Church in Kimberley
An old church in Kimberley. Editorial credit: Oleg Mayorov /

Kimberley Today

With a recently renovated downtown, one may feel as if they have entered a Bavarian village when walking the streets of Kimberley's center, built in the Bavarian style and complete with a variety of shops and restaurants. Home to the largest cuckoo clock in Canada, some of its must-visit landmarks include the Marysville Falls, the Cominco Gardens, and the Bavarian City Mining Railway. The Kimberley Alpine Ski Resort is a getaway for winter sports enthusiasts. Visiting during the warmer seasons gives active access to hiking, picnicking, and more at the Kimberley Nature Park and the Kimberley Riverside Campground. The golfers will revel in the well-developed establishments meant to practice their game, such as the Trickle Creek Golf Resort, the Bootleg Gap Golf, and the Kimberley Golf Club.

Festivals Of Kimberley

The yearly festivals include the weekend-long celebration of July-fest, the International Old Time Accordion Championship during the second week of July, the International Music and Dance Festival on the Labour Day Weekend, and the Kimberley Snow Fiesta in February. The beloved July-Fest celebrates sports, family and fun, with various entertainment options that can include Canadian Bocce Championships at the Centennial Park, the giant July-Fest Soccer Tournament, a parade, high school reunions, music, and the longboard race. As well, First Saturday Kimberley's annual Arts Culture & Heritage runs monthly festivities the first Saturday of each month from July to October at the Kimberley Platzl area, with artisans, an art market, hands-on demonstrations, outdoor concerts, children's activities, and other forms of entertainment.

The Alpine Resort

The alpine resort in Kimberley. Editorial credit: Oleg Mayorov /

Set within an embrace of the Selkirk and Rocky mountains, Kimberley Alpine Resort is a popular skiing destination for its consistent snowfall, short lifts, and sunny days on end. Containing various types of terrain to suit any skills and experience, the 80 runs of the resort covering over 729 hectares (1,800 acres), are loved by families, experts, and beginners alike. With slope-side lodges, one can change out of slippers into skiing shoes at the door to spend an entire day on the slopes.

The ski area opened 74 years ago in 1948 as North Star would bring one up 460 m in eleven minutes. The five lifts today, include a high-speed quad chairlift the North Star Express, a triple chair the Easter, a double chair the Tamarack, a T-bar the Owl, and a magic carpet, with a capacity to get 6,452 people up the hill within an hour.

The season for skiing usually lasts from mid-December to early April. Rentals of all sorts of gear are also available, while instead of walking with skis or waddling in them to the chairlifts, one can take the newly established Snowcat ski shuttles to get up the hill. The Kimberley Nordic Club offers Cross Country Skiing and Snow Skating on North Star Mountain. The Lois Creek and Kimberley Nature Park Trail Systems are great for spontaneous hikes and snowshoeing experiences.

To diversify one's stay, there's always snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snow-skating, snowshoeing, hiking, fat-biking, and tobogganing, as some of the other activities to engage in. For a great pastime in the afterhours, one can make use of one of the illuminated skating rinks, roam the traffic-free central Platzl full of shopping options and unique boutiques, as well as the famed Stemwinder Bar & Grill, or one can always opt-out to go night skiing. There's also the Kimberley Heritage Museum, and always, the Visit the Kimberley Visitor Center for maps and helping staff. 

Kimberley's Underground Mining Railway

Running three times daily, Thursday to Monday, from June until September, the Mine Tour is an attraction developed for one to discover the town's origin as a mining settlement that ran for nearly 100 years until 2001, through fun and interactive story-telling. The 2-hour journey into the Underground Interpretive Centre and through the scenic Mark Creek Valley on a 9-ton locomotive includes the Orpheum Theatre and the North Star School House on the railway's grounds.

The Kimberley Heritage Museum

Open year-round and showcasing historical artifacts, a rotating feature exhibit, and local stories on displays, one will come face-to-face with the history of the Sullivan Mine, the Marysville Smelter, and the 1916 Mark Creek flood. With over 10,000 artifacts and over 11,000 historical pictures, other unique displays include gramophones, war-time paraphernalia, and photography of the past.

The Cominco Gardens

The 5-hectare property with over 45,000 flowers annually, along with the expansive views of the Mark Creek Valley, was established in 1927. Upon historically acquiring the Sullivan Mine in operation, the Cominco/Teck Resources branded its own fertilizer from ore by-products, with the gardens today, effectively showing off the natural fertilizer in a beautiful outdoor setting. Gifted to the community in 1987, the gardens bloom today, from spring to fall, as a visual legacy of the past.

Marysville Falls and Eco Park

Taking just a 10-minute stroll from town along a wooden walkway and Mark Creek brings one to a mesmerizing spectacle with 30 meters of falling waters, fullest in the spring season. As a two-in-one destination, a community Eco Park is just opposite of the trailhead in Marysville. Its mascot, the west-slope cutthroat trout, is a native species that returned to Mark Creek upon extensive restoration of its watershed. One can set picnic at one of the tables, marveling at the flower gardens, while in the vicinity of the west-slope cutthroat sculpture. The walk is simple in any season for those seeking a relaxing pastime to rest in a natural setting, although the waterfall rocks get icy during winter.

The Bridges

Bridge in kimberley
A bridge over a river in Kimberley. Editorial credit: Hanbrook Design /

The first three bridges of the town to be constructed over the Marysville Falls, the MacKenzie Street, and the St. Mary's Avenue, constitute landmarks to be visited. Constructed out of Douglas Fir logs and timber, and reinforced with steel metal, they won the WoodWORKS! BC Community Recognition Awards in 2014 for being visionary initiatives to advocate wood use in public structures. $30,139 per bridge came from the city coffers, while the partial funding of $50,000 came from the Enabling Accessibility Fund to make it easier for people with disabilities to move around. The fourth bridge was constructed at Ross Street, and the fifth was meant to connect the Peaks-to-Platzl trail to the downtown core.

Despite all of the attractions the town has to offer, residents preach that they were all developed with a collective mindset, while the tourists agree that it is, foremost, the sense of community that stands out while in town, and sticks to their minds in the aftermath.

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