Squamish, British Columbia

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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
Squamish is located in British Columbia
Location of Squamish in British Columbia
Squamish is located in Canada
Squamish (Canada)
Coordinates: 49°42′06″N 123°09′32″W / 49.70167°N 123.15889°W / 49.70167; -123.15889Coordinates: 49°42′06″N 123°09′32″W / 49.70167°N 123.15889°W / 49.70167; -123.15889
ProvinceBritish Columbia
RegionHowe Sound/Sea to Sky Country
Regional DistrictSquamish-Lillooet Regional District
 • TypeElected council
 • MayorKaren Elliott
 • Governing bodySquamish Council
 • MPPatrick Weiler
 • MLAJordan Sturdy
 • Total104.88 km2 (40.49 sq mi)
5 m (16 ft)
 (2022 is over twenty thousand people)[3]
 • Total25,512
 • Density186.1/km2 (482/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Squamite, Squamishite, Squamolian[4]
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Forward sortation area
Area code(s)604
WebsiteDistrict of Squamish

Squamish (/ˈskwɒmɪʃ/; 2016 census population 19,512)[5] 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, which includes First Nation reserves of the Squamish Nation although they are not governed by the municipality, is 19,893.[6]

Indigenous Squamish people have lived in the area for thousands of years.[7] 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 pulp mill operated by Western Forest Products. However, Western's operations in Squamish permanently ceased on January 26, 2006.[8] 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 increasingly important in the town's economy, with an emphasis on outdoor recreation.

Squamish people[edit]

The Squamish people are an indigenous people whose homeland includes the present day area of Squamish, British Columbia. Oral stories and archaeological evidence show that they have lived there for thousands of years.[9] 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 Sḵwx̱wúʔmesh. 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.[10]


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

Squamish is known for mountain biking, hiking, climbing, and more

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 views of Howe Sound and the surrounding Coast Mountains. In all, between Shannon Falls, Murrin Park, The Malamute, and the Smoke Bluffs, there are over 1500 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.[11]

Kiteboarding and windsurfing are popular water sports in Squamish during the summer. Predictable wind on warm sunny days makes the Squamish Spit a top kiteboarding location in western Canada.[12]

Squamish's extensive quality trail system is a key feature of an annual 50-mile ultra trail run, the 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.[13][14]

Other tourist attractions in Squamish include Shannon Falls waterfall; river-rafting on the Elaho and Squamish rivers; 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.[15] 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.


The current mayor of Squamish is Karen Elliott, who won the 2018 election after having served as a council member. Previous mayors have included Patricia Heintzman (2014-2018); Rob Kirkham (2011-2014); Greg Gardner (2008-2011); Ian Sutherland (2002–2008) among others. Current council members are Eric Andersen, John French, Doug Race, Armand Hurford, Chris Pettingill, and Jenna Stoner.[16] The municipality is 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. He was re-elected in the 2017 provincial election and appointed the critic for Transportation and Infrastructure.[17]

Federally, Squamish is a part of the West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country electoral district. It is represented by Patrick Weiler of the Liberal Party of Canada, who took office after the 2019 Canadian federal election.


Squamish has five English language public elementary schools: Brackendale Elementary, Garibaldi Highlands Elementary, Mamquam Elementary, Squamish Elementary, and Valleycliffe Elementary. Under the Sea to Sky Learning Connections, the public schools district also manages Sea to Sky Online, Sea to Sky Alternative, Cultural Journeys, and Learning Expeditions. The Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique operates one Francophone primary school in that city: the école Les Aiglons.[18] There are two public secondary schools – Howe Sound Secondary School and Don Ross Middle School – as well as the board office for School District 48 Howe Sound.

Squamish hosts three private schools: Squamish Montessori Elementary School, Cedar Valley Waldorf School, and Coast Mountain Academy for grades 7 through 12. Coast Mountain Academy is located in the campus of Quest University.

Capilano University offers post-secondary education through its Squamish campus, including diploma programs and university transfer courses. Quest University, which opened in September 2007, is Canada's first private, non-profit, secular university, though only has an enrolment of less than 5000 students.[19]

A panorama from the summit of the Stawamus Chief in Squamish

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 Baháʼí 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, CDs, DVDs, and magazines. It has an Art for Loan collection and an online historical archive of various photographs, periodicals, and other items. Nearby museums include the Britannia Mine Museum and the West Coast Railway Association.

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.[20]

Every year, Squamish hosts the popular Squamish Valley Music Festival, though they did not proceed with the festival in 2016.[21] Usually taking place in August, the festival has hosted artists such as Eminem, Bruno Mars, Macklemore and Arcade Fire.

In media[edit]

Squamish has been a filming location for a number of media works and is a very popular place to film movies and TV shows. Examples include the films Free Willy 3: The Rescue (1997), Insomnia (2002), Walking Tall (2004), Chaos Theory (2008), The 12 Disasters of Christmas (2012), Star Trek Beyond (2016), Woody Woodpecker (2018), the television series Men in Trees, The Guard, A&E's U.S. adaptation of The Returned, the Hallmark Channel's Aurora Teagarden mysteries, and Netflix's Lost in Space reboot.


Historical population

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Squamish had a population of 23,819 living in 9,191 of its 9,906 total private dwellings, a change of 22.2% from its 2016 population of 19,497. With a land area of 104.71 km2 (40.43 sq mi), it had a population density of 227.5/km2 (589.2/sq mi) in 2021.[23]

Canada 2016 Census Population % of Total Population
Visible minority group
Chinese 195 1%
South Asian 1,295 6.6%
Black 120 0.6%
Filipino 565 2.9%
Latin American 120 0.6%
Southeast Asian 70 0.4%
Arab 15 0.1%
West Asian 25 0.1%
Korean 80 0.4%
Japanese 245 1.3%
Other visible minority 10 0.1%
Mixed visible minority 65 0.3%
Total visible minority population 2,805 14.4%
Aboriginal group
First Nations 555 2.8%
Métis 340 1.7%
Inuit 15 0.1%
Total Aboriginal population 950 4.9%
White 14,970 76.7%
Total population 19,512 100%


Squamish has an oceanic climate (Cfb) with warm summers and moderately cold winters. Squamish is one of the wettest inhabited locations in Canada, with over 2,200 millimetres (87 in) of rainfall per year, often falling in long stretches through the winter.

Climate data for Squamish
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.5
Average high °C (°F) 5.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.7
Average low °C (°F) −0.3
Record low °C (°F) −20.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 326.1
Average rainfall mm (inches) 300.2
Average snowfall cm (inches) 25.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 19.4 14.8 18.5 16.3 14.2 12.1 8.3 8.3 8.8 17.1 21.1 19.7 178.4
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 17.2 14.0 18.2 16.3 14.2 12.1 8.3 8.3 8.8 17.1 20.5 17.6 172.5
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 4.3 2.0 1.1 0.05 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.8 4.1 13.3
Source: Environment Canada[26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33]


Carbon Engineering, a company focusing on the commercialization of direct air capture technology, is headquartered in Squamish.[34][35]


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

Daily bus service to Vancouver and YVR Vancouver Airport is provided by YVR Skylynx with multiple departures every day.


Neighbourhoods of Squamish include:

Nearby localities[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Squamish has a sister city arrangement with the following city:

Freedom of the City[edit]

The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the City of Squamish.


  • Lois Wynne: 3 July 2018.[45]


  1. ^ "British Columbia Regional Districts, Municipalities, Corporate Name, Date of Incorporation and Postal Address" (XLS). British Columbia Ministry of Communities, Sport and Cultural Development. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Thuncher, Jennifer. "About that 'Squampton' saying". Squamish Chief.
  3. ^ Census Profile, 2016 Census - Squamish, District municipality Census subdivision, British Columbia and British Columbia Province
  4. ^ Wittenburg, Wolfgang (2 February 2013). "Squamisher or Squamolean ?". The Squamish Reporter. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  5. ^ Statistics Canada. Squamish District Municipality Census Profile, 2016 Census – 100% data Retrieved on: July 22, 2017.
  6. ^ Statistics Canada. Squamish Census Agglomeration Profile, 2016 Census – 100% data Retrieved on: July 22, 2017.
  7. ^ "Bowl an inspiration for Squamish archaeologist". Squamish Chief. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  8. ^ Western Forest Products Western Forest Products Announces Q1 2006 Results/Strategic Acquisitions Closed. Press Release, May 12, 2006. retrieved on: July 30, 2007.
  9. ^ "Bowl an inspiration for Squamish archaeologist". Squamish Chief. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  10. ^ "Squamish (district municipality)". BC Geographical Names.
  11. ^ Squamish Bouldering, 2nd Edition, Quickdraw Publications, 2010, ISBN 978-0-9732593-7-7.
  12. ^ Squamish Spit
  13. ^ "Home". Squamish 50.
  14. ^ Gracie, Jim. "Not just for biking: Garibaldi Highlands". Squamish Chief.
  15. ^ "Eagle & Bird Watching". squamish.ca.
  16. ^ "Council". squamish.ca.
  17. ^ "About | MLA Jordan Sturdy". jordansturdymla.ca. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  18. ^ "Carte des écoles." Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britanique. Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
  19. ^ Millar, Erin (22 October 2012). "The great experiment: Quest University's radical step in higher education". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  20. ^ "McDonald's workers decertify union". CBC News. Canada.
  21. ^ "Squamish Homes and Condos for Sale". squamish.com.
  22. ^ Population 1981/1986[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), British Columbia". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  24. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census". 2.statcan.gc.ca. 2017-11-29. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  25. ^ "Aboriginal population". 2.statcan.ca. 2010-10-06. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  26. ^ "Canadian Climate Normals 1981-2010 Station Data". Environment Canada. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  27. ^ "Daily Data Report for December 1968".
  28. ^ "Daily Data Report for January 1969".
  29. ^ "Daily Data Report for October 1984".
  30. ^ "Daily Data Report for November 1985".
  31. ^ "Daily Data Report for July 2015".
  32. ^ "Daily Data Report for August 2016".
  33. ^ "Daily Data Report for June 2021".
  34. ^ "Carbon Engineering | Direct Air Capture of CO2 | Home". Carbon Engineering.
  35. ^ Katie Brigham (June 22, 2019). "Bill Gates and Big Oil back this company that's trying to solve climate change by sucking CO2 out of the air". cnbc.com. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  36. ^ Keh, Andrew (2012-01-19). "Sarah Burke, Freestyle Skier, Dies From Injuries in Training". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  37. ^ "Squamish hereditary chief Ian Campbell mulls running for mayor with Vision Vancouver". The Georgia Straight. 2018-05-10. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  38. ^ Carney, Mike. "Biography". mikecarney.com.
  39. ^ "ARGOS SELECT OT JOE EPPELE". Toronto Argonauts. 2010-05-02. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  40. ^ "Grimes In Reality". The FADER.
  41. ^ "Our Culture | Squamish Nation". www.squamish.net. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  42. ^ "Catching up with soccer great Mike Sweeney". Squamish Chief. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  43. ^ "Alpine Canada | News | Ski Community Mourns Ski Cross Racer Mikayla Martin". alpinecanada.org. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  44. ^ Government of Canada, Foreign Affairs Trade and Development Canada. "List of Canada-Japan Sister and Friendship Cities". Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  45. ^ https://squamish.ca/assets/Uploads/601e8fb890/0703-Regular-Minutes-2018.pdf[bare URL PDF]

External links[edit]