The Secwepemc (corrupted in English to Shuswap) People made what is now known as Chase, their home for thousands of years before first contact with European fur traders in the late 1700s.
Today, three member bands of the Shuswap First Nation – Adams Lake, Neskonlith and Little Shuswap – are integral parts of the local community. The Adams Lake Band, whose reserve is located across the South Thompson River from Chase, operates the renown Chief Atahm language immersion school, a sawmill and a lakefront development on Little Shuswap Lake. The Neskonlith Band, from its reserve farther along the river from Chase, is active on the environmental conservation front; while the Little Shuswap Band, located across Little Shuswap Lake from Chase is best known for the development and operation of Talking Rock Resort and Qaaout Lodge.
Learn more about the Shuswap culture at Talking Rock's interpretive sites, by viewing ancient pictographs in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park or by attending a Native celebration. The three bands host the annual Squilax (Black Bear) Pow Wow in July and the Neskonlith Band hosts its own pow wow in August.
When the first fur trading post was established in nearby Kamloops in 1812, the life and culture of the Shuswap People began to change forever. Within a couple of decades, settlers were beginning to claim land and in 1861 the first reserves were set up.
Visit the Chase & District Museum & Archives for a look at First Nations artifacts and to learn about the region's colourful first non-Aboriginal inhabitant. Whitfield Chase was a New Yorker who was drawn north by the Cariboo gold rush. He settled in what was then known as Shuswap Prairie in 1865, married the daughter of the Neskonlith chief and took up farming. Read about his experiences and the early post-contact history of the area in his collected letters, transcribed and displayed in the museum.
Chase, the man, was in his grave for more than a decade before Chase, the village named in his honour, took shape. The townsite was laid out on land purchased from his son in 1907 by an American logging company.
Forestry has been the main economic engine throughout Chase's history. See the development of the industry from 100-year-old log flumes on the Adams River to the environmentally conscious new mill on Adams Lake. Take the free cable ferry to cross the lake.
Chase is a working town, a close-knit community that supports a year-round slate of family-fun activities. The village also encourages creativity and supports local artists and artisans. Look for arts and crafts, including Aboriginal work, in some unusual places like Craig's Bakery, Little Bear Gallery, Rustic Mountain Furniture, Ska Hish Esso and Simply De Vine Coffee & Bistro.
With the area's rich natural beauty it's no surprise that tourism has become a major factor and residents treat visitors well. Information on what's happening around town is easy to find. Details are available at the Chase Visitor Centre or ask the locals. They'll be glad to help.