Unincorporated and Uncompelled
Latitude: 49°31'00" ~ Longitude: 120°42'00" ~ Relative Location: N
side of Tulameen River, NW of Princeton, Yale Division Yale Land
District ~ Physically situated in the Outram area of the Northernmost
Located on a Tulameen river floodplain, Coalmont Road, and Kettle
Valley Railroad portion of the Trans Canada Trail. Coalmont proper is
situated on the Coalmont Road between Princeton and Tulameen and
consists of nine blocks, although a few more were laid out originally.
The area to the south and southwest which includes the now abandoned
towns of Blakeburn and Granite Creek is generally included because of
the historical connection.
Right in Coalmont there are about 60 houses. Many of them have full
time residents. The stable population is approximately 85 which
includes around 20 people who live in the periferal area. The current
number of children is around 8. On top of that there are about 20
property owners who are weekend and seasonal residents. There is also a
handful of regular visitors, some of whom have been coming here for
Although Coalmont is politically associated with the Okanagan it is
physically situated in the Outram area of the Northernmost Cascades. It
is just east of Manning Park and about an hour’s drive west of the
Okanagan. Located on one of the many floodplaines along the Tulameen
river, the town is nestled snugly in the mountains. There is a lot of
wind whistling down the valley, but not much rain. Despite low average
temperatures for all but the summer months, there are a lot of sunny
days all year round. The river is usually low in the summer, and
sometimes dangerously high in the spring. The last flood was in 1995.
Coalmont is part of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. The
RDOS district covers diverse cultural groups and climatic regions. It
is composed of Regional Boards of elected municipal and rural area
directors. The governance is centered in Penticton which is located in
the far eastern side of the district. Coalmont, being both small and
remote, has no representation, although it is part of the smaller
electoral division called Area H. Historically the cultural and
economic connections tend to be with the lower mainland, and that is
still the originating source of many goods, including food and building
Coalmont has no real industry of it’s own. It was originally set up as
a distribution point for the mines and grew to include normal small
town businesses and residence but the last store closed 20 years ago.
Although tourism has been suggested as a contemporary substitute, there
are only three small businesses. The log cabins, a new three unit
motel, and the Coalmont Hotel which only operates as a bar. The whole
area is much used for hunting, fishing, motorized camping, and off road
motorsports. There is a large amount of tourism in the Princeton and
Tulameen areas and Coalmont is overrun on summer and long weekends, but
apart from the three business mentioned, there is no direct economic
benefit to the town.
Mining was the mainstay for many years. The main finds of Gold and
platinum are long gone, but some claims continue to be worked and hand
mining is still practiced by a few hardy souls. The major coal industry
stopped in 1940 but there have been some sizable developments in the
intervening years. Compliance Energy Corp. was trucking out coal as
recently as 2006 and still holds a licence for many tons. There has
also been serious interest in Coalbed Methane and recent explorations
claim positive result.
The area has two ranches and there is a small amount of hay grown for
local use only. There are free-range cows wandering the whole area and
they can occasionally be seen in town.
Logging has been done here since the beginning but has gained momentum.
There is regular traffic of logging trucks through Coalmont. Although
the only large mill is in Princeton, many logs go in the other
direction for processing elsewhere. Coalmont is located in the Cascades
Residents work in Princeton or even further away. A number are retired.
Some people choose jobs in construction. The surrounding area is being
developed at an unprecedented rate but the people moving in are mostly
from urban cultures and come with limited skills. This shortage of
tradesmen offers an opportunity for some.
The area became well know in the late 19th century because of the gold
and platinum finds. The plentiful coal soon became an interest and the
town of Coalmont was established in 1911. The town thrived in the
1920’s but the mine closed in 1940 and most people left. Despite having
no public utilities and being on the verge of becoming a complete ghost
town for many years, Coalmont continued to survive because of it’s
location and the tenacity of the unique individuals who chose to stay.
A synopsis of the history can be found on the history page associated
with this web site.
Probably due to the town being semiabandoned for many years, the
lifestyle has embodied values which are perhaps more common to remote
settlements. Little is done which does not include motorized vehicles.
Mechanical skills are taken for granted, even by young people. Those
that are retired, love to spend their time working with engines or old
and antique cars. In addition to cars, many residents have a truck,
either to get firewood or for recreational persuits. Quads, dirt bikes,
and especially snowmobiles, are popular and most people own at least
one of those.
Despite the changing times, Coalmontians still show a distinct
pioneering independence. Since there is no public water and sewage,
people learn to deal with the everyday problems of water pumps and
septic fields. Many have gasoline operated emergency generators to cope
with power outages, particularly because water pumps are almost all
electric. Houses are generally heated with wood, partly for historical
reasons, and partly because it is free or almost so. Most do their own
building and repairs. People have tools. They hoard building supplies
and things that can be used in the future. It is common to fix things
if they are broken. This all gives a certain “look” to the town that is
familiar and comfortable to locals but may seem unacceptable to
The children take the school bus. In the summer they go down to the
river to cool off. In those ways the culture is similar to other small
Canadian towns. The closest stores are 18 kilometers away and very
limited in scope, there being only one major grocery store there. Many
items have to be purchased in Penticton or brought up from the coast.
Television reception is by satellite only and the telephone is of the
old fashioned hard wired type. There is no reliable reception of any
commercial radio. Broadband, which is in the form of wireless, has only
been here since the end of 2006 and many people don’t have computers.
The environment has much effect on the lifestyle here. In the winter
people need to clear snow, mostly in order to maintain access to the
road. Houses and vehicles also need extra attention to cope with the
long winters. Home heating is an issue during December and January at
which time it never gets above freezing.
The long winding mountain road to the Princeton shops is sometimes a
challenge, although it is usually plowed twice a day in the winter
because of the school bus. The many slides in the area also create a
hazard with rocks and gravel on the road, but that too is cleared
The summer, particularly July and August, is quite hot and the lack of
water noticeably effects the vegetation. The general dryness is a
constant worry for residents who fear the ravages of forest fire. This
is particularly problematic with the higher levels of fuel in the woods
since the increase of insect attacks on the forest in recent years.
Most of the year there is a significant number of deer in the area
which are a serious traffic hazard as well as a deterrent to gardeners.
Bears are frequent and will destroy apple trees, but don’t stay long
and residents are careful to not tempt them with food or garbage. The
abundant wildlife is otherwise not a problem.
The inhabitants are a mixture of people born in the area, others that
came to persue a lifestyle not possible where they came from, and those
that just have a love of the area. There is a relatively high
proportion of part time residents. Colmontians have a marked “live and
let live” attitude, and generally respect those that came before.
Unlike in many communities, oldtimers and long time residents enjoy
some elevated status.
There is a traditional small town sense of responsibility, and people
are very helpful to each other. The sharing of resources such as auto
parts and building supplies is common. Nevertheless, Coalmontians
display a “frontier” independence, lack of interest in
institutionalized services, and some antipathy towards middle-class,
Recent increases in government legislation and other outside pressures
are causing local-translocal tensions. The desire to preserve the
friendly atmosphere and free but unconfrontational lifestyle is
clashing with the push to update Coalmont to urban and national
standards. Oldtimers tend to want things to stay the same, and more
recent arrivals wish to sustain the vital aspects of community life and
identity that first drew them here.
Page courtesy of the New Coalmont Courier ©2008 Ole Juul