Merritt, British Columbia
, is a city of 8000
in the Nicola Valley
, located 271
km to the Northwest of Vancouver
With the completion of the Coquihalla Highway in 1986, the Nicola Valley became more accessible from Vancouver's Lower Mainland, and the Okanagan. Merritt is the commercial centre for the area.
The Nicola Valley was home to First Nations, and European settlers first came to the area in the mid 1800s, trying to find a trading route between the coast and the interior. They settled here because of the verdant grasslands, suited to cattle ranching.
In 1872, Merritt's founding father, William Henry Voght, bought up land at the fork of the Nicola River, and the Coldwater River. The town was renamed Merritt in 1906, after the mining engineer, William Hamilton Merritt. Mining made up the large part of the town's industry, followed by logging, and milling. In 1911, Merritt (the place) was incorporated as a city; in the 1930s, the city was put into receivership, with the failure of a local mill.
After World War II, more mills opened, and forestry became the dominant sector. Mining regained importance with the opening of the nearby Craigmont copper mine, and other mines in the Highland Valley.
In 1986, the highway was completed, making Merritt central to transportation and communications in British Columbia's southern interior. There are two Provincial Parks in the region: Monck Park, and Kentucky-Alleyne Park. In addition, there are some 200 lakes.
Merritt is, perhaps, best known for the Merritt Mountain Music Festival, which last several days, and takes place each summer.