This is what Keremeos BC looks like in my memory from the 60s – the uncontested Las Vegas Strip of Fruit Stands.

Except that photograph is from just last month.  Not a lot of difference in a half century.

That’s true of most of Highway 3 from Hope to Osoyoos: it’s changed hardly at all.

Which is fine, since a lot of it looks like this:


The only developments between Hope and Keremeos are at Manning Park, Princeton and Hedley.  In between, no gas stations, no parking lots, no billboards, no major interventions except a copper mine.  After half a century, the biggest changes are the width of the highway and the height of the trees.

Most of us who dwell in the Lower Mainland know there’s a big back yard out there beyond Hope.  We too, like our visitors, are still amazed by the sheer scale.  Best of all, it’s free and it’s close.

Four hours, thirteen minutes away, says Google:

(Two things to note: (1) Google Map insists on using ‘Work’ as my destination pin.  Hardly.   (2) And check out ‘Explore Keremeos’ for its attractions – motordom as tourist bait.)


Princeton is the major stop along the way, though major overstates its impact.  Except for the signs:

Most small towns in the province seem to have received money for main-street beautification programs – or they all decided about the same time to outfit their commercial streets with the same features – rather like a trend in shopping centres and malls – to keep their communities alive with some kind of core. We’ll explore them along the way.

One conclusion: small town BC is still home to independent businesses, especially those that serve coffee.

Note the sidewalk extension into the curb lane, and the patio that results.  A big-city technique especially effective on the super-wide roads that cut though these towns – the provincial highways that connect them all.

These kind of small, incremental, locally rooted changes are unexpected (really, an independent book store?) and gratifying.  The pandemic will test their resiliency.


  1. Really enjoying this travel sequence. We’ve been vacationing in the west Kootenays for a couple of decades and have made Highway 3 our regular route, in spite of trying other routes (Hwy 1 to Revelstoke and south, Hwy 6 from the Okanagan through Needles/Farquar). The small towns along Hwy 3 to Nelson offer timely pit stops, great local coffee and snack stops and a nice slow pace. Hope you get a chance to stop at the Copper Eagle or Deadwood Junction in Greenwood, Wooden Spoon in Grand Forks, or the Pony Espresso in Christina Lake. We generally blow through Castlegar and stop at Thrums store there about 10 minutes east. Can’t wait for the next installment. The small towns have that comfortable local feel, not unlike small corner store cafe clusters around suburban parts of the lower mainland (think 33rd. and McKenzie as an example).

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