Squamish

Squamish, British Columbia

Squamish (2006 census population 14,949) is a community 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 is 15,256.

Squamish as a town had its beginning during the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway in the 1910s, and was the first southern terminus of that railway (now a part of CN), and 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, Squamish Operation permanently ceased operation on January 26, 2006.. Before the pulp mill the town's largest employer had been International Forest Products Interfor with their sawmill and logging operation but it closed a few years prior to the Pulp mill. In recent years, Squamish has also become popular with Vancouver and Whistler residents escaping the increased cost of living in those places, both less than one hour away by highway, with tourism an increasingly important part of the town's economy.

Sḵwxwú7mesh

The Sḵwxwú7mesh, (or Squamish) is the name of the Indians who have inhabited at this part of southwest BC (including North and West Vancouver) since before the time of contact with Europeans. Squamish is the European pronunciation of Skwxwú7mesh, the traditional name for the people. The name Keh Kait was the traditional name for the site of downtown Squamish.

Activities

Tourist 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 also 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 1000 problems described in the local guidebook.

Another activity for which Squamish is well known is mountain biking, with over 600 trails suitable to all abilities surrounding the town. One of the more famous events supported by the Mountain Biking Community is the Test of Metal, a 67 km cross country mountain bike race held in late June every year. It is limited to 800 riders, and the 2007 race sold out in under an hour.

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 nearby 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

The current mayor of Squamish is Ian Sutherland, who narrowly beat local celebrity and recycler Terrill Patterson back in the election of 2005. Previous mayors include Corrine Lonsdale (1993-2002), Egon Tobus (1990-1993), and Phil Turner (1983-1990). The municipality is a member of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

On the provincial level, Squamish is in the West Vancouver-Garibaldi electoral district. The MLA is Joan McIntyre (BC Liberal). She was first elected in the 2005 provincial election.

Federally, Squamish is a part of the West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country electoral district. It is represented by Blair Wilson (Green Party of Canada), who took office during Canada's 2006 federal election.

Education

Squamish has six elementary schools: Brackendale, Garibaldi Highlands, Mamquam, Squamish Elementary, Stawamus Elementary and Valleycliffe Elementary. There are two secondary schoolsHowe Sound Secondary School and Don Ross Secondary School — as well as the board office for School District 48 Howe Sound.

Capilano College offers post-secondary education through its Squamish campus, including diploma programs and university transfer courses. Quest University Canada, opened in September 2007. It is Canada's first private, non-profit, secular university. Squamish Montessori School offers 3-6 year olds a full AMI based Montessori preschool education.

Social and cultural

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. Squamish is a filming location of the ABC's romantic comedy-drama television series Men In Trees and Global TV's drama/action series The Guard.

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.

Climate

Squamish is one of the wettest locations in Canada, with nearly 2400mm 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 50cm accumulations not uncommon, although it often melts quickly.

Notable Squamish residents

Mike Carney, now realtor, former ski racer who had been a member of the Canadian Olympic downhill ski team

Mike Sweeney who grew up in Squamish competed in the 1984 olympics with Team Canada for soccer.

Neal Kindree, World Cup mountain bike racer.

Linda Firbank: Recipient of the Priemier's award for excellence in teaching.

Notes

External links

Surrounding municipalities

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