Nicola Lake

Nicola Lake is a glacially formed narrow, deep lake located in the South-Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada approximately thirty kilometres northeast of the city of Merritt. It was a centrepoint of the first settlements in the grasslands lying south of Kamloops, and today is used for recreation and as a water storage site to provide irrigation and water flows to fisheries downstream in the Nicola River. The lake is important in the history of the local Nicola people as the location of one of their major communities, Nicola Lake Indian Reserve No. 1, which lies on its eastern shore[1] and is the home of the Upper Nicola Indian Band. Many of the band work for the Douglas Lake Cattle Company, aka the Douglas Lake Ranch, whose headquarters are also adjacent to the lake.

Nicola Lake
LocationBritish Columbia
Coordinates50°10′N 120°31′W / 50.167°N 120.517°WCoordinates: 50°10′N 120°31′W / 50.167°N 120.517°W
Primary inflowsNicola River
Basin countriesCanada
Average depth24 m (79 ft)
Max. depth55 m (180 ft)
Surface elevation628 m (2,060 ft)


Located at an elevation of 628 metres above sea level, Nicola Lake is a widening of the Nicola River system as it flows from the plateau south of Kamloops and northwest of the Nicola Rocks Valley. It is approximately 22 kilometres in length and has a general northeast-to-southwest lay, curving along its length. The lake has a mean depth of approximately 24 metres, with a maximum of 55 metres.[2] The Nicola Valley is narrow and mountainous, generating substantial winds that have given the lake a good reputation among sailors and windsurfers.

The lake is a short drive from Merritt on provincial Highway 5A, formerly the main route into the B.C. Interior but replaced in the 1980s by the Coquihalla Highway system. This highway runs along the southeast/east side of the lake, through the communities of Quilchena and Nicola. The Nicola River flows into the lake just north of Quilchena, and exits through the Nicola Dam at the south end, just north of Nicola.

Recreational Use

Being roughly three hours from Vancouver and in a temperate climate that sees warm weather for much of the year (despite a severe high-country winter), Nicola Lake has become popular among those looking for recreation. Monck Provincial Park is located on the shores of the lake, at a site used in centuries past as a First Nations village (depressions, known as quiggly holes, from the local type of indigenous pit house, are still evident). Camping, boating, and swimming are available at the park. Nicola Lake is a popular location for fishing as well, with rainbow trout and Kokanee the main species sought by fishermen. Burbot also populate the lake. Burbot must be released when caught by fishermen in Nicola Lake.[3] The winds that blow through its narrow valley have made Nicola Lake a destination for sailors and windsurfers. The Kamloops Sailing Association operates a facility at Quilchena that was originally constructed for the 1993 Canada Games sailing events, and today provides a location for club members and guests to sail, as well as lessons for new sailors. A pullout along Highway 5A is a popular launch site for windsurfers taking advantage of the wind. It was dedicated as a memorial to a local windsurfer several years ago.[4]

Water Concerns

As part of the Nicola watershed locally and the Thompson River basin on a wider scale, Nicola Lake is a link in British Columbia's salmon life cycle. Because of generally declining water levels in the Interior, the lake, controlled by the dam at its outflow, provides necessary flows through the summer for vulnerable coho salmon and other species downstream. Some organizations have expressed concern about the water flows,[5] and there is ongoing discussion about management of the dam, completion of the dam project (dredging of the inflow area being a key concern) as well as water supplies in the entire watershed.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "Nicola Lake Indian Reserve No. 1". BC Geographical Names.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ [4]
  6. ^ [5]
Johnny Ussher

John Tannatt Ussher, usually known as Johnny Ussher, was a settler, provincial magistrate and Gold Commissioner in the Thompson Country of the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada in the 1870s. John Tannatt Ussher was the son of Samuel Ussher Esq., a lawyer in Montreal, and Harriet Rebecca Colclough. He was born October 17, 1830.

On June 2, 1876 Ussher was named as a tax collector under the School Tax Act. On June 22, 1876, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council announced the appointment of John Ussher, Esq. to be Returning Officer for the District of Yale. The Provincial Secretary’s office announced in January 27, 1877 that Johnny was appointed as Government Agent at Kamloops, and registrar for births, deaths and marriages, and land agents.

Johnny Ussher married Annie Clara McIntosh, the youngest sister of his business partner James McIntosh, on October 21, 1878.

In 1879 the renegade sons of former Fort Kamloops Chief Trader Donald McLean, led by his eldest son Allan and accompanied by their friend Alex Hare, went on a drunken rampage across the Nicola and Thompson Countries. The "Wild McLeans" went on a binge of horse-thievery and stealing flour, liquor, ammunition and clothing. Ussher, whose duties as Gold Commissioner included the roles of constable and jailer as well as magistrate and who had previously demurred on arresting the McLeans, as attempts to hold them in the flimsy jail in Kamloops would prove futile, rode out with John McLeod, with Amni Shumway as guide, and rancher William Palmer, whose prize stallion the McLeans had stolen.Ussher and his party surprised the McLeans at Long Lake (near Quilchena, on Nicola Lake) on 8 December 1879, and was killed in the ensuing gun battle, which also wounded McLeod and Allan McLean. Fleeing the consequences of Ussher's killing, the McLeans sought refuge with the Nicola people and made a speech to their chief Chilliheetza, son of the famous Chief Nicola, trying to enlist their support in a revived version of the abortive uprising planned by the Interior First Nations peoples in 1874. Chilliheetza refused, knowing that the boys' motivation was not political but caused by drink, and chastised them for their shameful behaviour. On December 13 the McLeans and Hare surrendered and were brought to the BC Penitentiary in New Westminster to await trial. They were, after a second trial had to be held because of technicalities, hanged for the murder of Johnny Ussher and sheepherder James Kelly on January 31, 1881.

List of Chinook Jargon place names

The following is a listing of placenames from the Chinook Jargon, generally from the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, the Canadian Yukon Territory and the American states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Some outliers exist in California, Utah, Nevada, the Canadian Prairies and the Great Plains States, and as far east as Michigan, Ontario, Quebec and New Hampshire; those in the Prairies/Plains and Ontario/Quebec may be assumed to have been "carried" there in the era by fur traders.

Note: multiples entries of the same name are sorted in alphabetical order by state or province.

List of Indian reserves in British Columbia

The Government of Canada has established at least 316 Indian reserves for First Nation band governments in its westernmost province of British Columbia. The majority of these reserves continue to exist while a number are no longer in existence.

List of communities in British Columbia

Communities in the province of British Columbia, Canada can include incorporated municipalities, Indian reserves, unincorporated communities or localities. Unincorporated communities can be further classified as recreational or urban.

List of lakes of British Columbia

This is an incomplete list of lakes of British Columbia, a province of Canada.

List of rivers of British Columbia

The following is a partial list of rivers of British Columbia, organized by watershed. Some large creeks are included either because of size or historical importance

(See Alphabetical List of British Columbia rivers ). Also included are lakes that are "in-line" connecting upper tributaries of listed rivers, or at their heads.

List of tributaries of the Fraser River

This is a partial listing of tributaries of the Fraser River. Tributaries and sub-tributaries are hierarchically listed in upstream order from the mouth of the Fraser River. The list may also include streams known as creeks and sloughs. Lakes are noted in italics.

All of these streams are in British Columbia, Canada, except the upper Vedder River (Chilliwack River) and some of its tributaries, which are in Washington, United States.

Merritt, British Columbia

Merritt is a city in the Nicola Valley of the south-central Interior of British Columbia, Canada. It is 270 km northeast of Vancouver. Situated at the confluence of the Nicola and Coldwater rivers, it is the first major community encountered after travelling along Phase One of the Coquihalla Highway and acts as the gateway to all other major highways to the B.C. Interior. The city developed in 1893 when part of the ranches owned by William Voght, Jesus Garcia, and John Charters were surveyed for a town site.Once known as Forksdale, the community adopted its current name in 1906 in honour of mining engineer and railway promoter William Hamilton Merritt III. The 24-square-kilometre (9.3 sq mi) city limits consist of the community, a number of civic parks, historical sites, an aquatic centre, a local arena, a public library (which is a branch of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Library System) and a civic centre. Merritt has dozens of bronzed hand prints of country music stars who have been in the city for the annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival displayed throughout town. Merritt is also home to a local radio station, a weekly newspaper and the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology campus. Nearby, there are four provincial parks, numerous lakes, and several recreational trails. Merritt is known as the "Country Music Capital of Canada" for its wealth of country music attractions, activities, and events.

Highway 5, and Highway 97C intersect at Merritt with Highway 97C East connecting the city to Kelowna and Penticton, Highway 97C Northwest to Logan Lake, Highway 8 to Spences Bridge and Lillooet, Highway 5A South to Princeton, Highway 5A North to Kamloops, Highway 5 South to Hope, and Highway 5 North to Kamloops. Merritt's economy is dominated by the primary industries of forestry, tourism, and service.

Monck Provincial Park

Monck Provincial Park is a provincial park in British Columbia, Canada, located at Nicola Lake near the town of Merritt. The park's campground is one of those which accepts reservations. Activities including fishing, camping and hiking. Natural features other than Nicola Lake include lava beds associated with the Chilcotin Group.

Nicola (Okanagan leader)

Nicola (1780/1785 – ~1865) (Spokan: Hwistesmetxe'qen, Walking Grizzly Bear), also Nkwala or N'kwala, was an important First Nations political figure in the fur trade era of the British Columbia Interior (early 19th century to 1858) as well as into the colonial period (1858–1871). He was grand chief of the Okanagan people and chief of the Nicola Valley peoples, an alliance of Nlaka'pamux and Okanagans and the surviving Nicola Athapaskans, and also of the Kamloops Band of the Shuswap people.

Nicola Athapaskans

This article is for the extinct Athapaskan-speaking group of the Nicola Country of British Columbia. For the modern group known as the Nicola, see Nicola people.The Nicola Athapaskans, also known as the Nicola people or Stuwix, were an Athabascan people who migrated into the Nicola Country of what is now the Southern Interior of British Columbia from the north a few centuries ago but were slowly reduced in number by constant raiding from peoples from outside the valley (mostly Secwepemc), with the survivors, the last of whom lived near Nicola Lake, assimilated to the Scw'exmx-Syilx Nicola people by the end of the 19th century. The term Nicola for them is a misnomer, though a common one used by ethnologists and linguists - it commemorates a famous Okanagan chief who once held sway over the valley and its peoples as well as over the Kamloops Shuswap).

First appearing in the Bonaparte River valley and at Spences Bridge, they came into conflict with the Secwepemc and Nlaka'pamux peoples of that area, the Thompson Canyon, after journeying south to get away from "bad neighbours". At first in conflict with the Nlaka'pamux, peaceful terms were come to and they were invited to settle in the area of Nicola Lake and the upper Similkameen Country and lived alongside the valley's mix of Okanagan and Nlaka'pamux-speaking groups. The latter's name for them is the only indigenous name that exists for them, stuwix ("strangers"), as their own language, known as Nicola, did not survive and very little is known about it, as only a very little was recorded before it became extinct. At one time the Stuwix had also lived in the upper Similkameen and are credited by historian Mark S. Wade as being the first known inhabitants of that area until they were driven out by the group today constituted as the Upper Similkameen Indian Band and retreating to the area of Douglas, Stump and Nicola Lakes, where they were sheltered by Chief Nicola and the Scw'exmx and Spaxomin who lived under his rule. Despite friendly relations with their immediate neighbours, they were subject to repeated raids by hostile tribes, notably the Secwepemc (Shuswap) and by the later 19th century only a handful survived. Very little is known of them as by the mid-19th century they were nearly extinct due to constant raiding by Thompson and Shuswap from outside the valley, and their surviving members were largely absorbed by the surrounding Scw'exmx, a branch of the Thompson people by the time of European contact, and also partly by the Spaxomin, a branch of the Okanagan people also in the valley who are also known as the Spahomin Band. Some family lines are thought to survive among the Scwe'exmx, and a handful of placenames in the Merritt-Princeton area are believed to be from their language, which some linguists believe may be closely related to, or simply a dialect of, the Chilcotin language.

Nicola River

The Nicola River , originally French Rivière de Nicholas or Rivière de Nicolas, adapted to Nicolas River, Nicola's River in English, is one of the major tributaries of the Thompson River in the Canadian province of British Columbia, entering the latter at the town of Spences Bridge. It is named for Nicola (Hwistesmexteqen) the most famous chief of the joint community of Nlaka'pamux and Okanagan bands, founded by his father and today known as the Nicolas, (originally Nicola's people), as well is its basin, which is known as the Nicola Country. It drains most of the northern Thompson Plateau, beginning near the very eastern edge of the plateau only 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Kelowna, and flows from there more or less westward to feed Douglas Lake and Nicola Lake, with about 15 kilometres (9 mi) of the river's length between those two lakes. Nicola Lake at 20 kilometres (12 mi) long is the largest in the basin; the Nicola River enters at 3/4 way of its length up from its outlet, 10 kilometres (6 mi) downstream from which is Nicola Valley centre and Coquihalla Highway town of Merritt. From there the river flows 60 kilometres (37 mi) northwest to the Thompson, and is followed on that route by British Columbia Highway 8 and a spur line of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The area upstream from Merritt is known as the Upper Nicola, and is home to the famous Douglas Lake Ranch as well as the people of the valley's namesake, Nicola, an important historic chief in early 19th Century British Columbia. Downstream from Merritt is known as the Lower Nicola, which is also the name just west of Merritt of a locality named for the similarly named Indian Reserve and band at the same location; there is also an Upper Nicola Indian Band at Nicola Lake, among many others in the area. The only major tributary of the Nicola is the Coldwater River, which runs north from Coquihalla Pass to join the Nicola near Merritt. Other more minor tributaries are Spius and Guichon Creeks. Nicola Lake and the Nicola Country, a term which is synonymous with the Nicola Valley, were named secondarily for the river, not directly for Chief Nicola.

The terrain of the river's basin northeast and in the area of Merritt is broad rangeland valleys, with high semi-forested plateau uplands reached by relatively gentle slopes, up to and over 2,400 metres (7,900 ft). The upper basin has a number of large lakes, the largest being Douglas Lake and Nicola Lake, Below Merritt, the valley-bottom of the Lower Nicola is much narrower, but has room enough for a constant meander for most of its length, with lush farmland and deciduous forest, flanked by steep hills rising through sage and dryland forest hills to the broad plateau uplands above. The Nicola, as the Nicola Country is known for short, is known for broad rangeland views and a hot, sunny summer climate, as well as frigid winters due to its overall elevation.

Okanagan language

Okanagan, or Colville-Okanagan, is a Salish language which arose among the indigenous peoples of the southern Interior Plateau region based primarily in the Okanagan River Basin and the Columbia River Basin in precolonial times in Canada and the United States. Following British, American, and Canadian colonization during the 1800s and the subsequent repression of all Salishan languages, the use of Colville-Okanagan declined drastically.

Colville-Okanagan is highly endangered and is rarely learned as either a first or second language. About 150 deeply fluent speakers of Colville-Okanagan Salish remain, the majority of whom live in British Columbia. The language is currently moribund and has no first-language speakers younger than 50 years of age. Colville-Okanagan is the second-most spoken Salish language after Shuswap.


Quilchena is an unincorporated community located on the south shore of Nicola Lake near the city of Merritt, British Columbia, Canada in that province's Nicola Country region. On the former main route between Merritt and Kamloops, it is now largely bypassed since the construction of the Coquihalla Highway. A heritage hotel is the main landmark, lately transformed into a small golf resort.

Quilchena (disambiguation)

Quilchena may refer to:

Quilchena, a small community on the south shore of Nicola Lake, British Columbia

Quilchena Airport

Quilchena Elementary School (Richmond)

Quilchena Elementary School (Vancouver)

Vancouver-Quilchena, an electoral district in British Columbia, Canada

Stump Lake

Stump Lake is a lake in the Nicola Country region of the South-Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada, northeast from and of a smaller size to Nicola Lake at approximately 11 km long. Stump Lake is the location of the community of Stump Lake and is important in local native history as one of the original settlement sites of the alliance of Okanagan and Nlaka'pamux people today known as the Nicola people.

Stump Lake, British Columbia

Stump Lake is an unincorporated settlement in the Nicola Country of the South-Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada, located at the northeast end of that lake, which lies to the northeast of Nicola Lake and the city of Merritt.

Sydney Goldman

Major Charles Sydney Goldman (April 28, 1868 – 7 April 1958) was a British businessman, author, and journalist who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1910 until 1918. There is a Memorial Stone of C.S. Goldman in the yard on the Murray United Church.

Coastal features

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