Backcountry skiing at Red Mountain Resort near Rossland

(Dave Heath photo)


Culture & History

Rossland's physical history dates back approximately two million years, when a volcano erupted in the Monashee Mountains.

Rare minerals rich in gold ore were created from this volcanic eruption that spewed across Red Mountain. The fortune in gold lay hidden through the ages awaiting discovery.

Dewdney Trail

In 1865, Rossland became linked with other nearby villages. Interest in gold mining in the area was increasing and the British were seeking to tighten their grip on potential prospects, so a trail was created to provide access to the BC interior. The hope was that the Dewdney Trail, a 400km/248mi route leading from Hope to Fort Steele, and past the present site of Rossland, would improve transportation to and from the ore-rich mountains.

But as times changed, interests moved elsewhere, new roads were added, and the Dewdney's importance diminished. With only the local Salish Indian band using it, the trail lay fairly unused for 25 years.

Historic Rossland

In 1890, two prospectors discovered gold in the ancient volcanic caldera (or valley) near Rossland. Of the many claims staked on Red Mountain, one of the biggest and most famous was the Le Roi Mine, which visitors can learn about at the Rossland Museum.

Ross Thompson, a prospector, acquired a grant from the Crown in order to put forth the right to purchase 160 acres, and the town was born. The call of gold lured prospectors from around the world and the population exploded. The great wealth of commerce from the gold mines gave rise to the first (albeit short-lived) stock exchange in Western Canada.

Rossland's Name

The town site was first named "Thompson," but was quickly changed to Rossland. History has it that Ross Thompson wanted to name the town for his last name, but was robbed of that right when he found out another town with that name already existed.

Rossland was incorporated in 1897 and was, at that time, one of the largest cities in Western Canada. It was a hard-working one, too. The Western Federation of Miners started in Rossland and soon became an international union. Due to the active involvement of the Rossland union branch, well-known legislation around the eight-hour workday and worker's compensation was implemented.

But with great fortune came some tragic losses. Three massive fires ravaged the city and by the early 1900s, the rich ore deposits were nearing depletion. The Le Roi Mine eventually closed in 1929.

Visitors keen to find out more about the city's early history and the gold mining era and the Le Roi Mine should visit the Rossland Museum, which is located next to the Rossland Visitor Centre.


Rossland is not just about history – the town celebrates its modern-day community spirit and culture with a number of fun, family festivals and events, spread throughout the year. Among them, Rossland's Winter Carnival (held in late January) has been running for more than a century, and features games, music, fireworks, dancing, a parade and much more.