History of the Nicola Valley

Father of Merritt

In 1865, William Henry Voght, the father of Merritt, entered the valley and returned in 1872 to take up land at the forks, where the Nicola and Coldwater Rivers meet. This was the start of the development of Merritt. In 1906, the town was renamed Merritt, in honour of William Hamilton Merritt, a mining engineer and railway promoter.

Merritt was incorporated as a City in 1911, by this time the community’s economy had diversified to include coal mining, which would continue to be a major industry up until the 1930s. In the 1930s the failure of a local mill precipitated the receivership Following the end of WWII several mills opened in the city and forestry became the new backbone of the economy.

William Henry Voght – “Father of Merritt”

Historical Sites

We are proud of our heritage in Merritt and invite visitors to experience it. The Heritage Commission invites you to follow the Heritage Walk.

Baillie House

The Baillie Property is a symbol of the first major urban development of Merritt both residential and commercial / industrial. The house was built in 1908 with all the hope that a buoyant economy brings to a young working man with the prospect of a wife and family.

Coldwater Hotel

The Coldwater Hotel, located in the heart of Merritt, was constructed in 1908 and its copper covered cupola is a Merritt landmark. The hotel is still in operations with a restaurant, pub and banquet facilities.

Quilchena Hotel

Established in 1908, the Quilchena Hotel is one of the Valley’s most historic buildings. Overlooking Nicola Lake, the resort offers visitors a multitude of outdoor experiences: guided trail rides, tennis, swimming, fishing, hiking and a scenic 9-hole golf course. The resort also has an adjacent recreational part with 25 sites offering full hookup facilities.

Douglas Lake Ranch

Established in 1886, it is Canada’s largest working cattle ranch. The ranch is approximately 515,000 acres in size, has in the neighbourhood of 18,000 head of cattle and employs 60 people. In addition, the ranch has two of North America’s top lakes for producing rainbow trout and operates a general store and post office.

Nicola Valley Museum & Archives

Visit the Nicola Valley Museum & Archives Website

History Video Collection

The Wild McLean Boys

The Coquihalla in 20 Months