Visiting the Grist Mill: A Piece of British Columbia's Heritage
British Columbia's southern interior region might be best known for its abundance of local wineries, desert-like summer climate, and plethora of water activities, but for those of you looking to get to know the area's background and culture better, look no further than the historic Grist Mill & Gardens.
Throughout my travels I've found that there aren't a whole lot of places throughout the region where you can dive right into interior B.C.'s agricultural history like you can at the Grist Mill, which is not only a heritage site open for exploration, but a historical experience complete with staff dressed in 19th century garb to emulate the era of its heyday.
While the site isn't huge, it makes for an educational and fun stop if you're traveling through the area!
Grist Mill and Gardens History
Located in the village of Keremeos in the Similkameen Valley, about a thirty minute drive outside of the Okanagan Valley, the Grist Mill was once an important stop for local settlers, First Nations peoples, and miners traveling on the historic Dewdney Trail, a 700 kilometer route that served as the major thoroughfare in mid-19th century British Columbia.
At the time, the water-powered mill turned locally grown wheat into flour which was then sold in an associated general store, along with other practical household and kitchen items.
Today, the entire area the Grist Mill sits on has been carefully restored and preserved as a provincial heritage site open to visitors from spring to fall, while the actual mill has been rebuilt to its initial operating layout and its original equipment is grinding flour once again.
What you'll find on the site
On the 5 hectare (12 acre) site visitors can expect to explore the fully functional water powered flour mill (seen above under renovation at the time of my visit last year), wander through the beautiful Victorian gardens full of blooming flowers (depending on the season), participate in a workshop, enjoy a live performance, or simply enjoy a coffee or lunch in their quaint onsite cafe.
Nearby, you'll also find a creek side RV campground where you can stay the night.
There's also a section where you can view various farms birds squawking from inside their cages and you'll find some pigs enjoying their mud bath.
Last but definitely not least, there's also a rustic little patio where you can enjoy a piece of homemade pie or other baked treat while enjoying the surrounding greenery of the gardens!
Visiting the Grist Mill and Gardens
The Grist Mill and Gardens will be reopening for the season on May 1, 2018.
Adult admission is $7, seniors and students $5, and children under 5 years of age are free. You can also purchase season passes which provide free admission and discounts in the gift shop, tea room, and for selected special events.
Contact: 2691 Upper Bench Road, Keremeos, BC V0X 1N4 / (250) 499-2888 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Located not far off from the Crowsnest Highway (#3) which passes right through Keremeos, you'll see a couple of road signs along the highway directing you to the Grist Mill. It's a nice spot to stretch your legs or have a drink to break up the highway drive.
The Grist Mill & Gardens are about a 45 minute drive from Oliver and a 40 minute drive outside of Penticton (if you're coming from Penticton you'll know you've reached Keremeos when you see the friendly bear poking his head over the hill!).