Keremeos is a village of 1200
persons over 222
hectares in the Similkameen Valley
in south central British Columbia
. Keremeos has the status of "the fastest growing village
in British Columbia", in large part due to its appeal to retired persons. It is situated five hours east of Vancouver
by automobile, and forty minutes south of Penticton
. Keremeos' current mayor is Walter Despot
At 413m above sea level, and with more than 2000 hours of sunshine annually, the climate of Keremeos is generally dry, and quite mild, and is graced with long summers. Indeed, the average annual rainfall is but 30.5cm. The village is surrounded by rather imposing, beautiful mountains.
The region was originally inhabited by the Similkameen first nations people, and the village was named after the Similkameen word "keremeyeus", meaning either "the creek that cuts", "wind channel", or "the meeting of the winds". It is significant to note that Keremeos is British Columbia's only first nations place name to include the letter "R". Near Keremeos, there remain petroglyphs from the region's Similkameen inhabitation.
In 1860, the Hudson's Bay Company transferred its operations to Keremeos, and this decade saw an influx of white settlers, mostly ranchers and traders with the Hudson’s Bay Company, to the region. This outpost was closed in 1872, and the Keremeos Post Office was opened in 1877 to meet the postal needs for the region. In this same year, the Grist Mill was built. Upper Keremeos was established as a mining town, but because of poor access to water, the town was later replaced by Keremeos Centre, somewhat to the East. In 1887, the railroad came near to Keremeos and because of this, the town changed location again in 1907 to its current site. The only remaining architectural evidence of the town's one-time sites is an old cemetery. As mining became more profitable in surrounding regions, agriculture grew significantly in Keremeos. On October 30, 1956, Keremeos was incorporated as a village.
Currently, Keremeos' main industry is fruit production (particularly apples, apricots, cherries, grapes, peaches, and tomatoes), followed by ranching, horse breeding, gardening, wineries, tourism and light industry. Fruit production is so significant to Keremeos that the village has more fruit stands than any other agricultural region in Canada. Despite its small size, Keremeos has a secondary school, but the elementary school for Keremeos is in Cawston. Okanagan College has one campus in Keremeos, providing some university transfer, vocational training, and general interest courses.
Keremeos’ downtown, if it may be called such, is all inside of three blocks, and features many of the necessary commercial services for a small town. Keremeos has two parks: Pine Park, and Riparian Nature Park, both on the Similkameen River. Nearby attractions to Keremeos include a covered bridge, the rare Grist Mill (in fact, the only remaining pioneer flour mill in the North American West), Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park, the Similkameen River, and the APEX Mountain Resort. Spring may well be the best time to visit Keremeos, in that this season features both a rodeo, and an antique tractor pull. In the autumn, however, Keremeos hosts the annual "Zucca & Gourd Festival" at the Grist Mill - not something that any self-repecting person would want to miss.
Nearby communities include the towns of Hedley, Olalla, and Cawston.