At the northern end of the Sea to Sky Corridor, today the former rail town of Pemberton boasts an unparalleled mountain lifestyle.
By Claire Piech
Once a sleepy farm town accessed only by train, Pemberton has transformed into a vibrant valley region known for its tight-knit community, organic vegetables and world-class adventures. Nestled within the Coast Mountains (including the spectacular 8,000-foot Mt. Currie), the town is home to just under 3,000–people passionate about the area where they live.
The longest residents of the area, of course, are members of the Lil’wat Nation, who have lived in the valley since time immemorial. The first European settlers arrived during the mid–1800s gold rush, but until the 1960s the only way to get to Pemberton was by train. When highway 99 finally punched through, connecting the valley to Vancouver, the town blossomed and farming, forestry and tourism became mainstays of the economy.
“Pemberton has a unique mix of raw nature and good community,” explains Delaney Zayax, who moved to the area in 2008 and owns the cerified organic farm Ice Cap Organics. “It is close enough to Whistler and Vancouver to not feel isolated.”
The population includes a sizeable number of young families, and the vibe in Pemby (as it’s affectionately called by locals) is low-key and friendly. “We have two school-aged kids, and we’ve found Pemberton to be a wonderful place to raise them,” says Zayac. “There are so many healthy outdoor activities for them, as well as things like music and arts and crafts”–not to mention the safe, secure feeling of living in a small, tight community. World-renowned hiking, mountain biking and backcountry skiing–along with gardening, paragliding and horseback riding–are just some of the activities that keep residents outdoors year-round.
Just as importantly, the cost of real estate is still affordable, compared to neighbouring towns to the south, while still allowing access to the Sea to Sky lifestyle. Those looking to buy in Pemberton still have a wide-selection of properties, from apartments to huge acreages, with the average detached single-family home trending at $828,500 for 2019 (up 14 per cent).
You may no longer need a train to get there, but Pemberton might still be the Sea to Sky Corridor’s best kept secret, and there’s still time to jump on board.