Kimberley (pop. 8,000), 31 kilometres (19 miles) north of Cranbrook on Highway 95A, is a charming little town with no commercial strip or fast-food outlets, just streets of old stucco mining cottages and a downtown that was “Bavarianized” in the 1970s to attract more visitors. A few downtown shops and businesses have been decorated Bavarian-style with dark wood finish and flowery trim, steep triangular roofs, fancy balconies, brightly painted window shutters, and flower-filled window boxes.
Although named for a famous South African diamond mine, Kimberley boomed as a result of the silver and lead deposits unearthed on nearby North Star Mountain. The deposits were discovered in 1892, and by 1899 over 200 claims had been staked. As was so often the case, only operations run by larger companies proved profitable. The last of these, and one of the world’s largest lead and zinc mines, Cominco’s Sullivan Mine closed in late 2001 as reserves became exhausted.
Strolling the BAVARIAN PLATZL, you’ll feel as though you’ve just driven into a village high in the Swiss Alps, with only bell-wearing cows and brightly dressed milkmaids missing. This is the focus of downtown: a red-brick pedestrian plaza complete with babbling brook, ornamental bridges, and the “World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock.” At the far end of the Platzl, KIMBERLEY HERITAGE MUSEUM (105 Spokane St., 250/427-7510, 9 am-4:30 pm Tues.-Sat. July-Aug., 1 pm-4 pm Mon.-Fri. Sept.-June) houses mining-history exhibits, a stuffed grizzly bear, and displays relating to local recreation.
COMINCO GARDENS (290 Rossland Blvd., 250/427-2293) enjoys a hilltop location. Originally planted in 1927 to promote a fertilizer developed by Cominco, the five-hectare (12-acre) gardens now hold over 40,000 flowers each summer.
Departing up to six times daily through summer (weekends only in spring and fall), the UNDERGROUND MINING RAILWAY (111 Gerry Sorenson Way, 250/427-0022, June-early Sept.) was constructed from materials salvaged from mining towns around the province. From just northwest of the Platzl, the seven-kilometre (4.3-mile) track climbs a steep-sided valley, crosses a trestle bridge, passes through a tunnel, and stops at particularly impressive mountain viewpoints and the original town site before arriving at Kimberley Alpine Resort.
The Columbia Valley is one of British Columbia’s premier golfing destinations, and while most of the best courses are farther north, Kimberley is home to TRICKLE CREEK GOLF RESORT (250/427-5171 or 877/282-1200) along the lower slopes of North Star Mountain. The layout features huge elevation changes (such as the par-3 11th hole, which drops over 20 metres/66 feet from tee to green) and rolling mountain scenery.
From early December to early April, KIMBERLEY ALPINE RESORT (250/427-4881 or 800/258-7669) provides great skiing and snowboarding on a wide variety of slopes four kilometres (2.5 miles) west of downtown. Additional facilities at the resort include a mid-mountain terrain park, a cross-country ski area, accommodations, and restaurants.
TRICKLE CREEK LODGE (500 Stemwinder Dr., 250/427-5175 or 877/282-1200) is at the base of Kimberley Alpine Resort. This contemporary log and stone structure holds 80 spacious rooms, each with a kitchen, balcony, and fireplace. Guest facilities include a fitness center and a year-round slopeside outdoor heated pool and hot tub complex.
KIMBERLEY RIVERSIDE CAMPGROUND (250/427-2929, May to mid-Oct.) is seven kilometres (4.3 miles) south of downtown on Highway 95A and then three kilometres (1.9 miles) west along St. Mary’s River Road. It’s a large facility with an outdoor pool, a convenience store, a playground, and treed sites within walking distance of the St. Mary’s River.
For information on Kimberley and the surrounding area, drop by KIMBERLEY VISITOR CENTRE (270 Kimberley Ave., 778/481-1891, 10 am-5 pm daily July-Aug., 10 am-5 pm Mon.-Sat. Sept.-June), at the north end of the Platzl.
Kimberley Alpine Resort has year-round webcams at the base area and also at the top of the main quad chairlift.
View Kimberley Alpine Resort webcam
The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure maintains highway cams along major routes in the Columbia Valley, including on the south side of Kimberley looking south along Hwy. 95.