A Pemberton-area guiding outfit has been designated one of Canada's signature tourism experiences.
Copper Cayuse Outfitters — which specializes in backcountry horseback adventures — earned the distinction from Destination Canada for its historic Li-Lik-Hel Mine Expedition.
"It means a whole lot to us, because it validates what we've been doing in many ways with the opening up of this historical area of the province," said Don Coggins, who owns Copper Cayuse with his business partner Dudley Kennett.
The Li-Lik-Hel expedition is a three-day camping trip by horseback into the Pemberton backcountry. It includes stops at three abandoned mines from a long-forgotten gold rush.
"It's a piece of history that you can look at," Coggins said. "It's unique in that no one in this area offers riding like this. They just don't. This is mountain riding at its purest, finest form."
The old-west miners of days gone by would access the mines on horseback and use them to ship the mined ore out when they were done, Coggins said.
"A lot of these horsetrails into the mines are packed so hard from where they took all the ore out by horseback, and so nothing ever grew back in the hosetrails," he said.
"The trees actually grew in from the side and up through the sunspace, so you kind of just ran a chainsaw down the side of it to open it up again, and then you'd have your trail."
Coggins and Kennett — with the help of their respective wives Evelyn and Jan — have been running Copper Cayuse for roughly six years now, Coggins said, operating three tenures in the Birkenhead-Tenquille area.
The Li-Lik-Hell expedition was introduced last year.
"We contacted the Canadian Tourism Commission about it and they said 'Absolutely this qualifies. This makes sense, because it has such an historical significance,'" Coggins said.
Other new additions to Destination Canada's Canadian Signature Experiences collection this year are Spring Caribou Migration at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge on Ennadai Lake, NU and The Rat's Nest Adventure Tour at Canmore Cave Tours in Canmore, Alta.
The three new additions bring the total of Canadian Signature Experiences to 186.
"Our government recognizes the important contribution that tourism makes to the Canadian economy," said minister of state for small business Maxime Bernier in a release.
"Through the Canadian Signature Experiences collection, tourism entrepreneurs do a great job showcasing to the world everything our country has to offer, while creating jobs and growth here at home."
Destination Canada is Canada's national tourism marketing organization.
The Signature Experiences collection plays a large role in helping sell Canada to the world.
"Our goal is to make Canada an easy destination to buy, to enjoy and to tell others about," Destination Canada president and CEO David Goldstein said in the release.
"Canadian Signature Experiences help do that by putting some of our industry's most innovative products front and centre in the window. Along the way, the CSE program helps inspire more entrepreneurs to rise to a new level of international competitiveness."
Meanwhile, Pemberton's Downtown Community Barn is in the running to be named one of the Canadian Institute of Planners' Great Places in Canada for 2015 under the category of Public Spaces.
Other categories recognize outstanding neighbourhoods and streets.
Winners in each category are chosen by a jury of professional planners.
Voting closes September 24. After the finalists are announced in October, the grand prize winners and people's choice winners will be declared November 4, in conjunction with World Town Planning Day.
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