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Salmon Arm
City of Salmon Arm
Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake
Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake
Salmon Arm is located in British Columbia
Salmon Arm
Salmon Arm
Location in British Columbia
Salmon Arm is located in Canada
Salmon Arm
Salmon Arm
Location in Canada
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
Region Shuswap Country
Regional District Columbia-Shuswap
Established 1905
 • City 155.28 km2 (59.95 sq mi)
 • Metro
165.57 km2 (63.93 sq mi)
415 m (1,362 ft)
 • City 17,706
 • Density 114.0/km2 (295/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Metro
 • Metro density 108.1/km2 (280/sq mi)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific Standard (PST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight (PDT))
Forward sortation area
Area code(s) 250, 778, 236, 672
Highways Trans-Canada Highway Hwy 1
Website City of Salmon Arm

Salmon Arm is a city in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District of the Southern Interior of the Canadian province of British Columbia that has a population of 17,706 (2016). Salmon Arm was incorporated as a municipal district on May 15, 1905. The city of Salmon Arm separated from the district in 1912, but was downgraded to a village in 1958. In 1970, the city of Salmon Arm once again reunited with the District Municipality. Salmon Arm once again became a city in 2005, and is now the location of the head offices of the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District. It is a tourist town in the summer, with many beaches, camping facilities and house boat rentals. Salmon Arm is home to the longest freshwater wooden wharf in North America.


Little is known about the history of Salmon Arm preceding the laying of the Canadian Pacific Railway in September, 1885. While miners and settlers looked for gold in the surrounding areas, the beaches of Salmon Arm lay virtually untouched. In 1890, five years after the railway was built, the residents of the town requested and obtained a post office. At the time, there was only a population of 28 residents. By the end of the 1890s, the town had grown to include many new buildings such as two general stores, a school, and a hotel. The population had also grown to include over 200 citizens.

By 1904, Salmon Arm had acquired a reputation for having an excellent fruit harvest. The local businessmen grew fruit as a main export, sending it to the larger, more populated towns that surrounded it. The displays for their crops could be located in stores in Kamloops and New Westminster, and the Hudson's Bay Company in Vancouver often featured an entire local Salmon Arm display.

In May 1905, a formal local government was started by the request of its citizens. The main concerns brought to the government centered on the building and repairing of roads.

Later on, in 1912, Salmon Arm upgraded its town status to an official city. They did this in part to receive funds from the provincial government to assist in road improvement, which was still a continued concern, and also to build a public water system. With the money they received, it didn't take long to fulfill their second project as Salmon Arm's first water system was official turned on in January 1914.

Electricity came to Salmon Arm in 1913, with the acquiring of its first diesel engine and in 1928 Salmon Arm became a part of the West Canadian Hydro-electric company grid.

In 1951, Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited Salmon Arm while on a royal tour of Canada.

On August 8, 1982, while Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his sons passed through Salmon Arm, they were confronted by three demonstrators protesting "high unemployment and the way the Prime Minister was handling the economy." Trudeau infamously gave the protesters the finger; his gesture was caught on a single television camera and immediately used by some as, "a vivid symbol for those who thought the Liberal prime minister arrogant and hostile to Western Canada."

However, to many Trudeau's response was seen as a commemorated joke. Only a month after the incident T-shirts, which depicted a characturized Trudeau leaning out of a train with his middle finger raised, were being produced and sold to the citizens of Salmon Arm.


A view from Mt Ida overlooking Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake.


With a December and January mean of −3.7 °C (25.3 °F) and a July mean of 19.1 °C (66.4 °F), Salmon Arm has a warm-summer humid continental climate with strong maritime influences as a result of its relative proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

Climate data for Salmon Arm
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.5
Average high °C (°F) -0.7
Daily mean °C (°F) -3.7
Average low °C (°F) -6.6
Record low °C (°F) -31.5
Precipitation mm (inches) 67.4
Rainfall mm (inches) 11.2
Snowfall cm (inches) 56.2
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 12.6 8.2 10.9 11.7 13.2 13 10 7.7 8.5 12.8 15.7 13.7 138
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 2.5 3.6 9.4 11.7 13.2 13 10 7.7 8.5 12.7 11 2.4 105.5
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 10.9 5.2 2.5 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0.4 6.1 11.9 37.1
Sunshine hours 30 67.6 138.6 189.6 226.4 225 284.8 267.8 217 103 31.2 21.2 1,802.3


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1921 967 —    
1931 1,671 +72.8%
1941 1,786 +6.9%
1951 2,389 +33.8%
1956 3,100 +29.8%
1961 4,007 +29.3%
1966 4,801 +19.8%
1971 7,793 +62.3%
1976 9,391 +20.5%
1981 10,780 +14.8%
1986 11,199 +3.9%
1991 12,115 +8.2%
1996 14,664 +21.0%
2001 15,210 +3.7%
2006 16,012 +5.3%
2011 17,464 +9.1%
2016 17,706 +1.4%
Sources: Statistics Canada

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Salmon Arm had a population of 19,432 living in 8,106 of its 8,517 total private dwellings, a change of 9.7% from its 2016 population of 17,706. With a land area of 155.19 km2 (59.92 sq mi), it had a population density of 125.2/km2 (324/sq mi) in 2021.

Canada 2016 Census Population  % of Total Population
Visible minority group
Chinese 110 0.6%
South Asian 120 0.7%
Black 100 0.6%
Filipino 100 0.6%
Latin American 25 0.1%
Southeast Asian 10 0.1%
Arab 25 0.1%
West Asian 10 0.1%
Korean 15 0.1%
Japanese 135 0.8%
Other visible minority 0 0%
Mixed visible minority 0 0%
Total visible minority population 655 3.8%
Aboriginal group
First Nations 390 2.3%
Métis 670 3.9%
Inuit 10 0.1%
Total Aboriginal population 1,115 6.5%
White 15,260 89.6%
Total population 17,030 100%


The summer months are when the city experiences it largest fluctuation of population with people on holidays coming to visit the city and surrounding area. During every third weekend of August the annual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues festival draws large crowds of festival goers with an international roster of performers. The Festival emerged from the Shuswap Coffee House movement of the 1970s and 80's, which by 1991 had coalesced into the non profit Salmon Arm Folk Music Society, the Festival's founding body. From its grassroots beginnings, Roots & Blues has grown into the largest and most musically diverse festival in the British Columbian interior. In July 2011 there was the first annual Sturgis North Motor Cycle Rally. Even though the city of Salmon Arm had mixed feelings for the event, 35,000 people attended. There is also the annual Shuswap International Writers' Festival.

Salmon Arm is home to a multiplex movie theatre (Salmar Grand) and a single screen theatre for movies and live stage performances (Salmar Classic); both are owned and operated by a non-profit community organization, the Salmar Community Association. Additionally, a community theatre society hosts plays and other live stage performances (Shuswap Theatre) in a building across the street from the Salmar Grand multiplex.

The RJ Haney Heritage Park & Museum is Salmon Arm's main museum, and celebrates the history of the region. The museum often offers a dinner theatre program during the summer months, with the theatre component offering plays based on local history.

Salmon Arm is home to a branch of Okanagan Regional Library (ORL), which is currently located in Piccadilly Mall.

The Salmon Arm public art gallery is the Shuswap Art Gallery, housed in a historic building owned by the city. The building was originally a post office, and later housed the Salmon Arm branch of Okanagan Regional Library for many years.

Notable performers with Salmon Arm connections include local blues group the Salmon Armenians.

Sports and recreation

Large crowds of tourists and locals are drawn to the beaches at Sunnybrae, Canoe, and elsewhere on Shuswap Lake during the summer. The city has many large hotels, as well as berths for a number of houseboats.

The community offers a number of recreational facilities and sports leagues. There are fields for soccer/rugby/football, fields for baseball/softball, as well as a 6 sheet curling rink (SACC), five-pin bowling lanes (lakeside lanes bowling center), several golf courses and many seasonal recreational businesses. The proximity of the Shuswap Lake has also resulted in a growing interest in rowing and paddling sports, particularly dragon boat racing.

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks hockey team, in the BCHL, plays at Shaw Centre (formerly the Sunwave Centre). The publicly owned twin ice rink facility is named in relation to the facility's community sponsor, Shaw Cable (which purchased the local, independent cable service provider SunCountry Cablevision in June 2011; SunCountry had branded its highspeed cable Internet service as, and had sponsored the ice rink facility under the name Sunwave Centre). Co-located in the same area with the Shaw Centre are the city's recreation centre (with pool, racquet courts, weight facility and auditorium/gymnasium), curling rink, lawn bowling facility, horseshoe pitch, and the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College. The city's previous indoor ice arena, Memorial Arena, has been re-purposed as an indoor field sports facility, and is heavily used by such sports as soccer, rugby, and archery. Memorial Arena, with sponsorship from the Salmon Arm Savings & Credit Union has been re-branded as the SASCU Memorial Recreation Centre, while the main recreation centre is similarly sponsored and branded the SASCU Recreation Centre.

Former NHL player Dave Scatchard was raised in Salmon Arm, playing his minor hockey there. Other notable athletes raised in or with ties to Salmon Arm are swimmer Rick Say and curler Sandra Jenkins.


Salmon Arm lies on the Trans-Canada Highway approximately halfway between Vancouver and Calgary. It is also at the top of Highway 97, which leads to Vernon and Kelowna. The economy benefits from through traffic; many brand-name hotels and restaurants have opened in the past few decades.

The Canadian Pacific Railway also runs through Salmon Arm. No passenger service is available, though the Rocky Mountaineer trains pass through on occasion.

Salmon Arm Airport mainly serves general aviation aircraft, though scheduled service to Vancouver and Calgary was available by Northern Hawk Aviation until it ceased operations.

Salmon Arm has a bus network that serves neighbourhoods and shopping destinations using commuter minibuses on hourly schedules. It also offers handyDart service for the disabled and scheduled services to communities across the region once per week.

Wildfire Damage 1998

In 1998, an area of 13,500 acres (34 km² or just over 5000 hectares) immediately southwest of Salmon Arm was burnt to the extent of deforestation by a wildfire started by lightning. The fire came down from the Fly Hills in the west and embers carried by the wind jumped the valley and ignited Mount Ida. Flames raced down both sides of the valley, threatening many homes. An emergency evacuation was executed as the fire hotfooted it closer. Remarkably, just as the fire reached the valley floor, a sudden change of wind direction forced the fire back on itself, extinguishing it. The fire came so close that trees in many backyards were singed and barn paint was peeled.

The media reported "20 homes and 15 barns" were destroyed during the firestorm in the Silver Creek area to the south of Salmon Arm, which also produced Canada's largest civil evacuation up to that date when the "5,000-hectare forest fire that forced the removal of 7,000 residents of Salmon Arm was being blown toward the town."

Sister city

  • Japan Salmon Arm's sister city is Inashiki, Ibaraki, Japan (Formerly Azuma, Ibaraki, Japan, until its recent amalgamation into Inashiki). There is a pavilion near McGuire Lake in honour of the friendship between Japan and Salmon Arm.

In popular culture

  • The Punch-Out!! character Bear Hugger resides in Salmon Arm. Additionally, he even has an attack of the same name.


Pier Salmon Arm 2013
The wooden wharf in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, facing south (May 2013).

The largest employer in the Salmon Arm area is the forest industry and related businesses; however, due to economic conditions, the former Federated Co-Op sawmill has been out of operation since Dec. 21, 2007, although the co-located plywood production facility has generally remained operational. The plywood plant is owned by Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd who purchased it from Federated Co-operatives Ltd. in 2012. The city benefits from access to the mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which passes through the city.

Many tourists come to Salmon Arm from Vancouver, Calgary and Asia. Most tourists arrive during the summer season, either stopping en route to other holiday destinations or to visit Shuswap Lake, often via rental houseboats and which has recreation residential communities and campgrounds all around its shores. Salmon Arm has several hotels, campsites and houseboat rental outlets.


Public schools in Salmon Arm are part of School District 83 North Okanagan-Shuswap; within the city limits, there are currently five elementary schools (kindergarten to Grade 7), one middle school (Grades 6 to 8), and a secondary school with two campuses. Salmon Arm offers early French immersion, late French immersion and outdoor learning programs. Several elementary schools outside the city limits, including one combined elementary/middle school feed into the middle school and secondary school in Salmon Arm. Salmon Arm also offer a private Christian School (Kings Christian School). The current division of education grades between the different categories of schools began in 2007; prior to 2007, elementary schools within the city limits offered kindergarten to Grade 7, followed by two junior high schools with Grades 8 to 10, and a single senior secondary school with Grades 11 and 12. School District 83 also has its administrative offices (located in the town centre) and maintenance complex (located in the community's main industrial park) in Salmon Arm.

Salmon Arm is one of four Okanagan College campuses; it offers a range of academic and vocational programs.

Notable academics with ties to Salmon Arm include David Lethbridge and Mike Worobey. David Lethbridge is a retired Professor of Psychology and the author of Norman Betune in Spain: Commitment, Crisis and Conspiracy. Mike Worobey is winner of the Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy for 2009 from Simon Fraser University and is known for research on COVID-19 pandemic beginnings.

Notable people

  • Gail Anderson-Dargatz – author
  • Calvin Ayre – entrepreneur
  • Dan Bremnes – Christian musician, resident of Salmon Arm
  • Brian Drummond, voice actor
  • Cody Franson – NHL player, defenceman for the Nashville Predators
  • E.V. Gordon – a well-known medieval philologist and colleague of J.R.R. Tolkien, was born in Salmon Arm in 1896
  • Curtis Lazar – NHL player, captain of Team Canada at the World Junior 2015
  • Justin Maas - Visual Artist & Author
  • Jesse Mast – country music singer-songwriter
  • Rick Say – a 3-time Olympic and national record holding swimmer
  • Dave Scatchard – a former NHL player
  • Greg Sczebel – a two-time Juno Award-winning independent singer/songwriter
  • Bev Smith – renowned basketball player and coach
  • Richard Underhill – jazz saxophonist and 2003 Juno Award winner
  • Natalie Wilkie – Paralympic Champion, cross-country skiing
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