McBride was founded in 1913 as Mile 90 of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The village received its name after the 16th and then current Premier of B.C., Sir Richard McBride. Over the following few decades, the railway station and growing population provided the local region with a centre for rail shipping, logging, and agriculture. In particular, the surrounding Robson Valley is noted for its rich farmland, especially for root vegetables.
Until the late 1960s the Valley was only accessible by rail and remained largely isolated. Following the completion of the Yellowhead Highway in 1970, communities in the Robson Valley were more accessible. During the final decades of the twentieth century, the town saw the decline of the logging industry, and circa 2005 the town’s main lumber mill closed. Currently the town and surrounding Valley are transitioning from an industrial economy to a centre for tourism, culture, agriculture, and outdoor recreation.
Our rich heritage and pioneering spirit, however, continues to shape our future directions. Neighbours are still quick to lend a hand to friend, visitor, and animal-alike. In 2008, the story of the “Horses of McBride” became national news as residents dug a kilometre long trench through deep snow in frigid temperatures to rescue two horses trapped on Mount Renshaw. You can learn more about the rescue in Birgit Stutz’s book, “The Rescue of Belle and Sundance” or the film, “The Horses of McBride“.
The Library has a wide selection of local historical resources, including a series of newspapers dating back to 1957, which you can access during open hours. Marilyn Wheeler’s “The Robson Valley Story”, is an excellent and comprehensive resource based on archival research and oral history interviews, for example. In 2013 we began to conduct our own oral history interviews, thanks to the New Horizons for Seniors program of the Government of Canada. For more information, or to view the video archives, visit our research page.
You can also find additional information about our history through the Valley Museum & Archives Society sites, valleymuseum.ca and www.mcbridemuseum.ca, or stop by 241 Dominion Street to view their latest show.