For thousands of years, the Chilcotin First Nations lived, hunted and traded on the South Cariboo plateau where the community of 100 Mile House is now located.
The Chilcotin First Nations people were nomadic and lived in temporary lean-tos and teepees in summer, as they followed game and spawning salmon, and harvested wild fruit and vegetables. In winter, they lived in subterranean kekuli (pit houses).
Today, the administrative centres and communities for the four remaining bands that claim the region as their traditional territory are outside the 100 Mile House district.
Arrival of the Gold Rush and Colonists
In the mid-1800s, miners poured into the area following the news of gold in the Cariboo. A wagon road was created to manage the traffic that travelled from Lillooet (on the Fraser River) to Barkerville and through Bridge Creek House. Bridge Creek House was then renamed 100 Mile House because it was 100 miles from Lillooet, or Mile 0.
Between 1862 and 1870, more than 100,000 people traveled through the region via this route. A freight and stagecoach line carrying both people and provisions to the gold fields operated for more than 50 years.
With the import of cattle to feed the burgeoning population, a thriving ranching culture developed. Dog Creek, just 80km/50mi west of 100 Mile House, became the location for the Gang Ranch, which was once among the largest ranches in the world.
By the 1900s, logging and forestry became the dominant economic driver and out-ranked ranching and mining in the area.
Modern Day 100 Mile House
Today, tourism, logging and ranching are the leading industries in the South Cariboo and 100 Mile House. Many ranches welcome guests and visitors may pass by some of the expertly crafted log homes that were built by the 13 log home construction businesses that currently operate here. In fact, the log building that was BC/Canada's place during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, was built in 100 Mile House. The logs that formed the shell were the "blue denim" logs that result from the impact of the pine beetle infestation currently affecting the forests of BC's interior.
The town of 100 Mile House bustles as the service centre for the South Cariboo, and while the official population of the town hovers just below 2,000, the community actually serves a total population of more than 20,000.