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Denver's parallel universe found in Canada

Denver's has a little copycat just north of the border
Denver's has a little copycat just north of the border
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Most people who live in Denver, Colorado will agree that it's a great place to live. The sun shines over 300 days a year, the mountains are a hop, skip, and a jump away, and there's now a weed store on every corner. In my travels I often find myself assuming that when I say, "I'm from Denver", people realize that I'm talking about Colorado. However, I was recently humbled to learn that there's also a cozy little mountain town in Canada, conveniently named New Denver (and for the record, there's also 22 other 'Denvers' in the United States).

New Denver is tucked into the Southeast corner of British Columbia, closer than not to the Canadian-Washington State border. The mining town was founded in 1892 and originally dubbed Eldorado City (sound familiar as well, Denverites?), but later renamed New Denver in honor of Denver, CO, although the exact reason for the change of heart was not recorded. Like it's big brother to the south, New Denver is also situated in the Rocky Mountains, next to Slocan Lake (that's right, Slocan, not Sloan's Lake), and 5 miles North of a town called Silverton (are you seeing the pattern here?).

Unlike Denver, CO, New Denver played an interesting role in World War II. It acted as a Japanese Canadian internment camp. While the able bodied Asian men were sent off to work camps in other parts of Canada, approximately 1,500 of their children, wives, and elders remained in New Denver in an area called the "Orchard". Apparently, many of these homes still stand and are open to tourists.

Following that unpleasantness, New Denver gained notoriety during the 1950's as a Freedomite colony. The Freedomites, also known as the Sons of Freedom, were a radical Russian Christian group that took a foothold in Canada in the early 1900s (and still maintain a small presence there today). One fun fact that you might not find in the travel guides is that they were known to have unusual, anarchist in nature protests that included burning their possessions and nude marches.

These days, New Denver is a much quieter place, inhabited by a little over 500 people. In this regard, it is very different from it's Colorado namesake. However, thanks to its proximity to the Rockies, it does thrive on tourism from winter sports and fans of the outdoors just like the original Denver.

While 'parallel universe' might be an overzealous description for this quaint Canadian village, the similarities are worth noting, although I'm sure the poutine is much better New Denver.

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