Mackenzie Village: Revelstoke’s rough roots, bright future

Revelstoke's Mackenzie Village development enters phase one.

Shelley and David Evans are the developers of Mackenzie Village in Revelstoke.

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Revelstoke is a town with a story-book natural backdrop. It’s within easy driving distance of an international airport and less than a day’s drive to several major urban centres. Famous for its picturesque views and the seemingly endless possibilities for adventure in any of a host of outdoor activities, Revelstoke is a great place to live, work and play.

Yet it’s equally the sense of community that defines this remarkable city. Shopkeepers in Revelstoke are likely to know your name and as you walk by well kept yards and gardens you’ll greet and be greeted by friendly neighbours.

It wasn’t always that way.

Revelstoke was very nearly named Farwell, after the civil engineer and surveyor, Arthur Farwell, who, intent on profiting by beating the coming railway to the punch, registered a 1,175-acre block of land in 1883 on the site where Revelstoke stands today. For its part, the CPR was having none of it, and chose to place their station down the line from Farwell’s holdings (about where their yards still exist).

The dispute between the two groups was to drag on in court for years, but manifested itself in a battle between the Dominion (of Canada) police force and the provincial constabulary in a truly wild west drama of almost comic proportions. The two groups were largely vying for control of the towns thriving liquor business, and regularly would deputize groups of random citizens to seize and then retake stocks of liquor from local bars.

And there were no lack of bars. The Revelstoke Herald described the scene in July of 1887, saying “Life was exciting, especially on paydays. There were brawls continually and gambling night and day… What the gamblers and saloon men did not get the women of the town did… and a small proportion of the money ever reached the shopkeepers.”

It’s a far cry from those rough and tumble beginnings to the idyllic, sustainable community we know today.

Situated at the center of the Pacific Northwest, Revelstoke is considered a small town with big adventure waiting just outside the door. It’s the ideal place for hiking, cycling, snowmobiling, golfing, skiing and cross country skiing. In fact, just about every outdoor activity one can think of is better in Revelstoke than just about anywhere else.

It’s also a place for families, boasting one of the top school districts in the province, and a lifestyle away from the stresses of high density urban living.

The tech community has seized on the recreational potential and community lifestyle of Revelstoke and, with the introduction of fiber internet access, tech workers, freelancers and telecommuters are starting to take notice. The town has developed its own collaborative workspace with a view to providing opportunities for high tech start –ups.

Shelley and David Evans are leading the Mackenzie Village Development in Revelstoke, and are thrilled to be a part of the town’s newest chapter. They are currently in phase one of a twelve-phase project planned to stretch out for over a decade.

“We love Revelstoke and want to build a sustainable community for the people I consider my own friends and neighbours. Mackenzie Village is about building a community for the scores of people who want to call Revelstoke home,” said Evans, adding that she and David’s group’s efforts are designed to feature solutions to the high demand and low inventory of specific types of homes in the community.

“We want to provide homes based on what people want, as opposed to just going out and building something that doesn’t work for the community. For example, we will build with triple glaze windows and high insulation factors, bear proof garbage disposal and landscaping without the fruit trees so attractive to bears,” she said. “We know this community and we’re a part of it. We want to be a constructive part of what Revelstoke will be in years to come.”

So, even though It hasn’t always been a smooth road from the brawling police forces of the nineteenth century to the outdoor paradise of today’s Revelstoke, Evans is proud of the way the town has risen from its rough heritage and confident of its brilliant future.

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