Squamish, British Columbia

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Squamish
District municipality
District of Squamish[1]
Cleveland Avenue in Squamish with Mount Garibaldi looming in the background
Cleveland Avenue in Squamish with Mount Garibaldi looming in the background
Official logo of Squamish
Logo
Squamish is located in British Columbia
Squamish
Squamish
Location of Squamish in British Columbia
Coordinates: 49°42′6″N 123°09′32″W / 49.70167°N 123.15889°W / 49.70167; -123.15889
Country Canada
Province  British Columbia
Region Howe Sound/Sea to Sky Country
Regional District Squamish-Lillooet Regional District
Government
 • Mayor Rob Kirkham
 • Governing body Squamish Council
 • MP John Weston
 • MLA Jordan Sturdy
Area
 • Total 104.88 km2 (40.49 sq mi)
Elevation 5 m (16 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 17,158
 • Density 163.6/km2 (424/sq mi)
Demonym Squamoleon
Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Postal code span V0N, V8B
Area code(s) 604
Website District of Squamish

Squamish (/ˈskwɔːmɪʃ/; 2011 census population 17,158) is a community and a district municipality in the Canadian province of British Columbia, located at the north end of Howe Sound on the Sea to Sky Highway. The population of the Squamish census agglomeration – including First Nation reserves of the Squamish Nation not governed by the municipality – is 15,256.[2]

The town of Squamish had its beginning during the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway in the 1910s. It was the first southern terminus of that railway (now a part of CN). The town remains important in the operations of the line and also the port. Forestry has traditionally been the main industry in the area, and the town's largest employer was the Western Forest Products pulp mill. However, Western Pulp's Squamish Operation permanently ceased operation on January 26, 2006.[3] Before the pulp mill, the town's largest employer had been International Forest Products (Interfor) with its sawmill and logging operation, but it closed a few years prior to the pulp mill's closing. In recent years, Squamish has become popular with Vancouver and Whistler residents' escaping the increased cost of living in those places, both less than one hour away by highway. Tourism is an increasingly important part of the town's economy, with an emphasis on outdoor recreation.

Squamish people[edit]

Main article: Squamish people

The Squamish people are an indigenous people whose homeland includes the present day area of Squamish, British Columbia. They have inhabited an area of southwestern British Columbia that includes North and West Vancouver, Howe Sound, Whistler, the areas surrounding the tributaries entering Howe Sound, Burrard Inlet, and English Bay. The word Squamish derives from the name of the people which in their language is Sḵwx̱wú7mesh. The people reside primarily on a number of Indian Reserves owned and managed by the Squamish Nation in the Squamish Valley area. A few places and names in the Squamish area derive from Squamish language words and names. Ch’iyáḵmesh is the name of an old village that was located on the Cheakamus River. St’á7mes is a community located near the south entrance to the town of Squamish, which lies below the Stawamus Chief, which gets its name from that village. Mámx̱wem is where the Mamquam River name comes from as well.

Squamish territory comprises 6,732 km2, though lands controlled by the Squamish Nation band government are relatively scarce, and on Indian reserves only, though the Squamish Nation must be, like other native governments, consulted on developments within their people's territory. Residents of Indian Reserves are not governed by the District of Squamish but by the Squamish Nation. The Squamish Nation's population and Indian Reserves also include villages in North Vancouver and a number of other reserves at Gibsons and elsewhere in the general region.

The name Keh Kait was the traditional name for the site of downtown Squamish.[4]

Activities[edit]

The Stawamus Chief
Squamish and the Squamish Valley from the summit of the Chief

Squamish is known as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada.[citation needed] Attractions include the Stawamus Chief, a huge cliff-faced granite massif favoured by rock climbers. As well as over 300 climbing routes on the Chief proper, a majority of which require traditional climbing protection, there are steep hiking trails around the back to access the three peaks that make up the massif, all giving great views of Howe Sound and the surrounding Coast Mountains. In all, between Shannon Falls, Murrin Park, The Malamute, and the Little Smoke Bluffs, there are well over 1200 rock-climbing routes in the Squamish area (and another 300 or so climbs north of Squamish on the road to Whistler). In recent years, Squamish has also become a major destination for bouldering, with over 2500 problems described in the local guidebook.[5]

Another activity for which Squamish is well known is mountain biking, with over 600 trails suitable to all riders that can ride ultra-steep trails with huge gaps and steep rock surrounding the town. One of the more famous events supported by the Mountain Biking Community is the "Test of Metal,"[6] a 67-kilometre, cross-country, mountain-bike race held annually in late June. Limited to 800 riders, the 2007 race sold out in under an hour.

Kiteboarding and windsurfing are popular water sports in Squamish during the summer. Predictable wind on warm sunny days makes the Squamish Spit is the top kiteboarding location in western Canada.[7]

Squamish's extensive quality trail system is a key feature of an annual 50-mile ultra trail run, the Arc'teryx Squamish 50. Solo runners and relay teams run on many of the same trails as the Test of Metal, and pass through Alice Lake Provincial Park and the campus of Quest University. "The Double" is an award offered annually to the participant with the fastest combined time for both the Test of Metal and Arc'teryx Squamish 50.[8]

Other tourist attractions in Squamish include Shannon Falls waterfall; river-rafting on the Elaho and Squamish rivers; wind surfing and kite surfing at the mouth of the Squamish River; snowmobiling on nearby Brohm Ridge; and bald eagle viewing in the community of Brackendale, which has one of North America's largest populations of bald eagles. Squamish is also a popular destination among Greater Vancouver hikers, mountaineers and backcountry skiers, who visit the large provincial parks in the surrounding Coast Mountains.

Politics[edit]

The current mayor of Squamish is Rob Kirkham, who won the 2011 election. Previous mayors include Greg Gardner (2008-2011); Ian Sutherland (2002–2008); Corinne Lonsdale (1993–2002); Egon Tobus (1990–93); Phil Turner (1983–90); William Elliott (1980–83); Izzy Boscariol (1977–80); and Pat Brennan (1964–77). Current council members include Doug Race, Bryan Raiser, Patricia Heintzman, Ron Sander, Susan Chapelle, and Ted Prior. The municipality is also part of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

On the provincial level, Squamish is in the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky electoral district. The MLA is Jordan Sturdy (BC Liberal). He was elected in the 2013 provincial election after his predecessor, Joan McIntyre, also of the British Columbia Liberal Party, retired from politics. Sturdy was the sitting mayor of the town of Pemberton at the time of his election to the British Columbia Legislature.

Federally, Squamish is a part of the West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country electoral district. It is represented by John Weston (Conservative Party of Canada), who took office after Canada's 2008 federal election.

Education[edit]

Squamish has six public elementary schools: Brackendale, Garibaldi Highlands, Mamquam, Squamish Elementary, Stawamus Elementary and Valleycliffe Elementary. There are two public secondary schools – Howe Sound Secondary School and Don Ross Secondary School – as well as the board office for School District 48 Howe Sound. Squamish Montessori Elementary School is a Ministry of Education Independent school. The Cedar Valley Waldorf School also operates in Squamish.[9]

Squamish Montessori Preschool and Elementary School is a provincially funded independent school offering AMI Montessori education for K-6 aged children as well as early education for 2.5 to 6 year olds.

Coast Mountain Academy is the Sea-to-Sky Corridor's first and only independent university-preparatory school for grades 7 through 12. CMA is located in the campus of Quest University and offers Academic, Arts, Athletics, and Elite Athlete Academies.

Capilano University offers post-secondary education through its Squamish campus, including diploma programs and university transfer courses. Quest University (located in the Garibaldi Highlands neighbourhood) opened in September 2007. It is Canada's first private, non-profit, secular university.[10]

A panorama from the summit of the Stawamus Chief in Squamish, British Columbia.

Society and culture[edit]

Squamish is home to a variety of faiths. There are eleven churches and religious organizations, including several Christian denominations, as well as the Bahá'í Faith, and a Sikh temple.

The Squamish Public Library is located in the downtown area on Second Avenue. The library houses a collection of books, DVDs, cds, and magazines. It also has an Art for Loan collection and an online historical archive of various photographs, newspapers, and other items. Nearby museums include the Britannia Mining Museum and the West Coast Railway Heritage Park.

Squamish was the filming location of the 2002 Christopher Nolan film, Insomnia starring Hilary Swank, Al Pacino, and Robin Williams. Squamish was the primary filming location of ABC's romantic comedy-drama television series Men In Trees and was featured prominently in a Season 4 episode of the American television series Supernatural titled "Wishful Thinking". It was the filming location for Global TV's drama/action series The Guard and (Garibaldi Highlands) was the filming location for the 1993 movie Free Willy scene where Jason James Richter bikes down the hill to the bay (Howe Sound). It is featured in the 2008 movie Chaos Theory among others. In 1996 a scene featuring Adam Sandler and Bob Barker for the film Happy Gilmore was filmed at the Furry Creek Golf Course in Squamish.

In 1998, Squamish was briefly the home of the world's first unionized McDonald's franchise, although the union was decertified by the summer of 1999.

Squamish received an influx of visitors during the 2010 Olympics, being equidistant from Vancouver and Whistler Ski Resort, where most events were held. In addition, the Transportation Team base for four transit companies contracted to operate services for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics was located on Queens Way from December 2009 until April 12, 2010.

Squamish is also home to a well-established hardcore punk community in part, due to their proximity to the thriving music scenes of Vancouver.[citation needed]

Every year, Squamish hosts the popular Squamish Valley Music Festival. Usually taking place in August, the festival has hosted artists such as Eminem, Bruno Mars, Macklemore and Arcade Fire. [11]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1981 10,272 —    
1986 10,157 −1.1%
1991 11,709 +15.3%
1996 13,944 +19.1%
2001 14,247 +2.2%
2006 14,949 +4.9%
2011 17,158 +14.8%
[12]
Canada 2006 Census Population  % of Total Population
Visible minority group
Source:[13]
Chinese 110 0.7%
South Asian 1,675 11.3%
Black 40 0.3%
Filipino 220 1.5%
Latin American 95 0.6%
Southeast Asian 45 0.3%
Arab 0 0%
West Asian 25 0.2%
Korean 70 0.5%
Japanese 35 0.2%
Other visible minority 0 0%
Mixed visible minority 25 0.2%
Total visible minority population 2,345 15.8%
Aboriginal group
Source:[14]
First Nations 550 3.7%
Métis 0 0%
Inuit 0 0%
Total Aboriginal population 550 3.7%
White 11,990 80.6%
Total population 14,885 100%

Climate[edit]

Squamish is one of the wettest inhabited locations in Canada, with nearly 2,400 millimetres (94 in) of rainfall per year, often falling in long stretches through the winter. Snow is not typical in winter, but can fall in heavy amounts with 50 centimetres (20 in) accumulations not uncommon, although it often melts quickly.

Climate data for Squamish
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13
(55)
20.5
(68.9)
25.5
(77.9)
29
(84)
37
(99)
33
(91)
35.5
(95.9)
35.5
(95.9)
37
(99)
28
(82)
16
(61)
14
(57)
37
(99)
Average high °C (°F) 5.2
(41.4)
7.7
(45.9)
11.6
(52.9)
14.4
(57.9)
18.1
(64.6)
20.4
(68.7)
23.2
(73.8)
23.6
(74.5)
20.9
(69.6)
14.3
(57.7)
7.7
(45.9)
4.2
(39.6)
14.3
(57.7)
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.2
(36)
3.9
(39)
6.7
(44.1)
9.6
(49.3)
12.8
(55)
15.4
(59.7)
17.7
(63.9)
17.8
(64)
14.8
(58.6)
9.8
(49.6)
4.8
(40.6)
1.6
(34.9)
9.7
(49.5)
Average low °C (°F) −0.9
(30.4)
−0.1
(31.8)
1.8
(35.2)
4.7
(40.5)
7.5
(45.5)
10.3
(50.5)
12.1
(53.8)
11.9
(53.4)
8.7
(47.7)
5.4
(41.7)
1.8
(35.2)
−1.1
(30)
5.2
(41.4)
Record low °C (°F) −16
(3)
−15
(5)
−7
(19)
−2
(28)
0
(32)
3.5
(38.3)
4
(39)
5.5
(41.9)
0.5
(32.9)
−7
(19)
−14.5
(5.9)
−14.5
(5.9)
−16
(3)
Precipitation mm (inches) 323
(12.72)
250.3
(9.854)
186.3
(7.335)
160.9
(6.335)
113.6
(4.472)
84.2
(3.315)
58.8
(2.315)
61
(2.4)
75.4
(2.969)
262.6
(10.339)
384.1
(15.122)
262.5
(10.335)
2,222.7
(87.508)
Rainfall mm (inches) 295.1
(11.618)
228.6
(9)
179.5
(7.067)
160.8
(6.331)
113.4
(4.465)
84.2
(3.315)
58.8
(2.315)
61
(2.4)
75.4
(2.969)
262.2
(10.323)
372.4
(14.661)
234
(9.21)
2,125.6
(83.685)
Snowfall cm (inches) 27.9
(10.98)
21.7
(8.54)
6.8
(2.68)
0.1
(0.04)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.5
(0.2)
11.7
(4.61)
28.6
(11.26)
97.2
(38.27)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 19.1 16.4 16.9 18.6 15.1 13.1 9.3 9.1 9.5 16.9 21.5 18.3 183.9
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 17.1 14.7 16.8 18.6 15.1 13.1 9.3 9.1 9.5 16.9 21.2 15.9 177.3
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 3.9 2.9 1.5 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 1.9 4.9 11.8787
Source: [15]

Transit[edit]

Public transportation is provided by the Squamish Transit System; this service is free over the summer to students at school age (elementary and secondary). There is also bus service to Whistler provided by the Whistler and Valley Express.

Neighbourhoods[edit]

Neighbourhoods of Squamish include:

Nearby localities[edit]

Notable residents[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Squamish at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 49°42′06.2″N 123°09′31.5″W / 49.701722°N 123.158750°W / 49.701722; -123.158750