Agriculture along the Crow Route in British Columbia (5 of 5)
Although most farming and ranching along the Crowsnest Route was on lands that first needed to be cleared of trees, some areas were in valley bottom wet lands that were diked and drained. This was particularly true in the lowlands of the Kootenay River near Creston. Large scale diking and draining of these wetlands produced some outstandingly productive agricultural lands but at the cost of the habitats of many water fowl and other birds on the key migratory routes known as the Pacific Flyway. Later generations would begin to appreciate the value of these areas and start to preserve some of the remaining areas. Creston remains an important fruit-growing area and also produces substantial crops of vegetables, potatoes and grain.
After the Second World War there were many changes in agriculture throughout the region. Small farms and fruit ranches in the remoter areas became increasingly uneconomic to operate and urban expansion and a growing population in the region took over many of the areas once farmed commercially. Smaller local fruit packing and processing facilities also became uneconomic and largely disappeared from the region. Moreover, the expansion of the highway system and the development of improved refrigeration also meant that little agricultural traffic, except grain, moved by rail after the 1960s. Surviving agriculture and fruit ranching is now concentrated around Creston and Castlegar. Cattle ranching continued to a limited extent in the Cranbrook region.
The British Columbia Orchard Museum at Kelowna commemorates the history of fruit growing in the province with excellent displays, programs and temporary exhibits. It is located in the historic Laurel Packing House and shares facilities with the British Columbia Wine Museum. Many community museums and Fort Steele Heritage Park also preserve and interpret the agricultural history along the Crowsnest Pass Route.
Photographs and Illustrations for Agriculture Section: