With a historic ranch and town site, archeological finds and one of the best lakes in the region for fishing and water sports, Nicola has something for everyone.
First Nations people have inhabited the Nicola Valley for thousands of years. The name Nicola derives from Nicholas, the designation given to powerful First Nations Chief Hwistesmetxquen, whose name the fur traders could not pronounce.
Nicola was one of the most important settlements in the area, with a population of close to 1,000 in the 1860’s. With the discovery of coal and the routing of the railway south of Nicola, the community began to move to Merritt. In 1919 Charles Sydney “Major” Goldman from South Africa started the Nicola Stock Farm, and purchased the Nicola town site. It has changed ownership over the years and has become one of the largest ranches in B.C.
Black Angus and Wagyu (Kobe Style Beef) cattle, fallow deer and sheep are raised on Nicola Ranch. On their 2000 irrigated acres of farmland, hay and other crops are harvested. Although some of the renovated historic buildings are available to hire as self-catered accommodation through the ranch, they are not open to the general public. Visitors are welcome to walk around the town site to enjoy the many original buildings that are still intact. Highlights include the Harness Maker’s House and the Blacksmith Shop circa 1890. Murray Church is also well worth a visit; dating back to 1876, it is one of the oldest in the B.C. interior. It is named in honour of its founder, Reverend George Murray. Being the only Presbyterian minister in the Interior, Murray also ministered in areas as far away as Yale, Clinton, Ashcroft and Lillooet, with periodic visits to Quesnel. His area exceeded 600 miles, covered entirely on horseback, with his Bible under his arm. Before you leave Nicola Ranch, browse the Nicola Ranch Country Gifts, with unique jewellery, cowboy hats, clothing, souvenirs and collectables.
Explore Gold Country with the Gold Country GeoTourism Program to enjoy beautiful viewpoints, historical sites and geological wonders. In the Nicola area, try to find the Monck Provincial Park cache.
This lake is reportedly home to 26 different species of fish, making fishing a popular pastime. If you prefer to keep your feet on land, enjoy the lake by hiking or biking along the shoreline. A bird watcher’s paradise, the vegetation along the lake is vital to the abundance of migratory and resident bird species. Watch for a range of fowl from warblers and waxwings to ducks, geese, ospreys and eagles.
A popular spot for camping or day-use, Monk Provincial Park is an ideal place for enjoying the natural environment, whether hiking, swimming, fishing, water skiing, windsurfing or simply relaxing. Three fascinating archaeological discoveries have been made in the park; evidence of the region’s rich First Nations heritage.
Every June, the Conayt Friendship Society hosts an Aboriginal Day Celebration at Monck Provincial Park.UPCOMING EVENTS IN UPPER NICOLA
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