The history of Valemount dates back to the arrival of the first European fur traders David Thompson and Pierre Hatsination around 1805. The Overlanders passed through the area in 1862, en route from Ontario to the Cariboo Goldfields. In about 1910, there was a community of approximately 10,000 assembled at Tete Jaune Cache, 20 km north of Valemount, strategically placed at the head of the navigable waters of the Fraser River. It played an important role in the construction of two railways—the Grand Trunk Pacific to Prince George, and the Canadian Northern Railway to Vancouver, eventually merging to become the Canadian National Railway. Valemount became a railway station in 1928, and memories and pictures remain of that era, with tools, furniture and historical artifacts on display at the Valemount and Area Museum.
Forestry has always been a mainstay for Valemount, first having to satisfy the needs of railway construction, and then gradually meeting the needs of national and international markets. The appurtenancy policy used in the management of forest resources ensured that local communities gained economic benefits from their adjacent resources. Applied to Valemount’s forest industry, it made sure that trees harvested in the Robson Valley were processed in this area. The appurtenancy policy was eliminated in 2006. As a result, Valemount’s mill was shut down permanently in 2007. There is hope that the newly established Community Forest can play a new role in the forestry sector.
On December 13, 1962 the community of Valemount was incorporated into a village under the Municipal Act. Valemount had a very small population, road conditions were poor in the wintertime, communications were not the best, and electric power was proving to be somewhat unreliable.
The late 1960s were a period of expansion, construction and population growth for Valemount, with the construction of the Yellowhead Highway 5. Population grew from 600 residents in the early 1960s to 1,160 residents in the mid-1970s.
The 1970s brought a sewer system, a water tower, a medical clinic, the inauguration of the Community Hall, several new hotels and motels and a new restaurant to Valemount. A new Village Office opened on January 23, 1980.
The 1980s were a time for new environmental sensibility. The Starratt Wildlife Sanctuary received a significant clean-up operation at the old dump site, mitigating and rehabilitating past landscape damages. In 1982, the first tourist booth was established, and in 1984 the Canoe Robson Education Development Association was formed, playing a fundamental role in assisting residents with their continued education and training needs, especially in the service sector (Super Host Programs).
The 1990s showed significant population change due to the cyclical nature of forestry, as well as reduced work forces. With a downturn in forestry, the tourism sector gradually strengthened, and thanks to the world-class snowmobiling terrain, Valemount’s hotels and motels increased in number and could also afford to stay open for the winter season. These new hotels and restaurants helped to improve the local tourism infrastructure.
Between 1993 and 2000, all streets in the village were paved. Major projects such as the curling rink and the recreation centre were completed or renovated, the airport terminal was completed in 1996 and a new airport lighting system was installed in 2006. The Caribou Grill (1999), a beautiful log building, was a precursor of the new high standards that guests and visitors expect from resort towns. The Holiday Inn (now Best Western) was completed in 2001 and equals the standards set by the Caribou Grill, the Loose Moose Pub and numerous other businesses that renovated their properties (Valemount Hotel, IGA, etc.)
The Village of Valemount has increased its infrastructure capacity by adding another water tower in 2003, ADSL and high-speed Internet services have been available since 2003 and cell phone service since 2004. In the winter of 2005 the doors opened to Valemount Secondary School’s brand new, state-of-the-art building; community members and local businesses participated in fundraising for a community theatre and an expanded gymnasium. A new A&W Restaurant opened in 2006, and later, the new Visitor Information Centre, located on Yellowhead Hwy 5 followed in 2007.