Blue River is located approximately 210 Kilometers north of Kamloops, B.C. on the Yellowhead Highway. Avola is located 40 Kilometers south of Blue River and is considered to be part of Area 'B'. The trading population of the area is approximately 500 residents according to the most recent Community Profile compiled by Venture Kamloops.
Blue River is midway between Edmonton and Vancouver in what is known as the Columbia Mountain System. The Monashee and Cariboo Mountain ranges rise over 3,300 metres above sea level.
Tourism is currently the mainstay of the economy in Blue River due to the successful marketing of Mike Wiegele's Heli Ski Resort, the proximity of the community right on the Yellowhead Highway and the increased tourism in neighboring Wells Gray Park. Other supportive tourism related businesses such as the River Safari (summer driven) and Blue Jewel Snowmobile Tours (winter focused) also provide additional attraction for tourism seasonally. Tourism has become the dominant economic stimulus in Blue River. With such growing interest in Eco-Tourism due to the pristine wilderness surrounding the area the potential for further tourism development is key to the survival of this area.
The First Nations peoples inhabited the North Thompson Valley long before the explorers and settlers established communities in the region. The resilient and creative native peoples survived on seasonal foods of the valley which included; berries, fish, and wild meat. Many roots added variety and nutrition to their diet. The first nations peoples of this valley flowing along the North Thompson River are known as "The Simpcw ("SEEM-kuh") and form part of the Secwepemc, the largest division of the Interior Salish spread over 56,000 square miles. 'David Stuart first encountered the Secwepemc of the North and south Thompson rivers in 1811, when his search for furs stranded him in a dim, smoky put house for the winter months.' *Excerpt from: BC Historical News, Vol. 35 No. 3; Written by Muriel Poulton Dunford. From this account, we know that early explorers found the first nations peoples to be well established in the North and South Thompson regions early on.
Pioneers and Settlers
Founding pioneers to the areas now known as Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) area 'B', were inspired by the unsurpassed beauty, ruggedly rich natural environment, and abundant wildlife. The areas of Blue River and Avola became known as the 'Thompson Headwaters', being located at the 'top' of the Thompson River Valley. The Gold Rush Era attracted those searching for their fortune to travel the route that we call 'The Yellowhead in the mid 1800's. The 'highway' was first used to transport goods on foot, by cart and eventually the railway followed it's course across the country.
Canadian National Railway
The Canadian National Railway established switching tracks and a roundhouse in Blue River in 1916, which proved to be an ideal location for this railway hub. In years to come the railway would provide links between Alberta and British Columbia's coast that were invaluable for transporting; furs, timber, goods, and people from province to province. Following World War II logging became the prevalent industry throughout the North Thompson region with numerous logging camps, sawmills and logging export taking place following the Thompson River Valley.
Highway and Logging Development
In the 1960's logging operations became more concentrated in specific areas in the North Thompson. Many of the smaller mills were absorbed into larger company operations creating towns around them such as; Vavenby, Clearwater and Barriere. Soon after this consolidation of logging mills began the Yellowhead Highway was built, creating the active highway that remains a major route for trucking, tourism and transportation today.