The culture and history of Christina Lake began thousands of years ago with the Sinixt First Nations group (known also as the Arrow Lakes People), a branch of the Interior Salish.
It includes the fur trade, mining prospectors, railway expansion and a gradual evolution into a recreational destination.
Rock walls at several points along the north shore of Christina Lake exhibit pictographs (rock paintings) that attest to the long history of the Sinixt People in this area. For them, the waters of Christina Lake, the Kettle River and the area's many creeks served as important fishing grounds. History and anthropology buffs ask locals for directions and take a boat to see the pictographs.
Christina Lake was named for the daughter of fur trader Angus McDonald who ran the Hudson's Bay post at Fort Colville (now in Washington State) during the mid-1800s. The Dewdney Trail opened a Canadian route into the area for settlers in 1865, but the real population influx didn't start until the mining boom of the late 1890s and early 1900s.
Prospectors descended on the Christina Lake area in the general mining frenzy that gripped the Boundary District. The settlement of Cascade City was laid out on the Kettle River (3km/1.5mi from the present village of Christina Lake) in 1896 and soon grew to a population of 1,000.
Railway to Resort
When the Columbia & Western Railway pushed through to Grand Forks in 1899, there were a number of town sites in the area. The major settlement at Cascade suffered two catastrophic fires and was virtually destroyed in 1901. It never recovered. But by then, Christina Lake was developing, not as a mining centre but as a resort town, with people from Grand Forks riding out the train for daytrips.
The trains are gone, but hikers and mountain bikers can follow the old route, now part of the Trans Canada Trail.
Christina Lake has settled in as a small town where the population balloons by two-and-a-half times during July and August. Families return generation after generation for summer vacations, yet more and more people are realizing that spring and fall are ideal times to visit, when the crowds are gone and the weather remains mild. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers are discovering that many of the area's multitude of hiking and mountain biking trails are also great for winter sports.
The Christina Lake region hosts a variety of artists and artisans. See a broad collection of regionally-produced art in the Gallery at the Christina Living Arts Centre, as well as the Aboriginal-carved Story Pole in the main foyer.