Part of the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa Aboriginal people, Invermere's European history begins with the great Canadian explorer David Thompson.
In 1807, travelling with his wife and children, Thompson was the first European to explore the upper Columbia River. After paddling upstream from a tributary just below present day Golden, Thompson established a trading post known as Kutenae House.
The first real settlement, known as Copper City, was established in 1890. Ten years later, the name was changed to Canterbury, and changed yet again in 1909 to Invermere. By the time Invermere's identity crisis was resolved, Columbia Valley Fruit Lands Ltd owned large tracts of the valley – and the promise of agriculture was attracting optimistic immigrants.
The prospect of new markets spurred the effort to build the first motor road across the Continental Divide. The Banff/Windermere Highway was completed in 1922, but it is unlikely that this rough road across the Rockies was a viable option for shipping delicate fruit. As the 20th century progressed, logging took the lead as the most important industry, but today, it is tourism that drives the economy of the valley.
Invermere Culture & Influences
While Invermere really is very much a part of British Columbia, golf courses, condominiums and vacation homes have proliferated in recent years as Calgarians have all but colonized the valley. It is telling that Invermere's newspaper vending boxes sell only Albertan newspapers.
Christmas and summer are the busiest times, but locals that live in the midst of all this development have to deal with the day-to-day reality of a large number of absentee owners.
Things to Do in Invermere
Condominium complexes can be 75% empty for months at a time, making it easy to find a parking spot, but hard to find a neighbour. On the other hand, almost everyone benefits from the valley's extraordinary inventory of recreational facilities – go river rafting, skiing, hiking and relax in rejuvenating hot springs. Locals even get a break on green fees at some golf courses.