Merritt is a city in the Nicola Valley of the south-central Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Situated at the confluence of the Nicola and Coldwater rivers, it is the first major community encountered after travelling along Phase One of the Coquihalla Highway and acts as the gateway to all other major highways to the B.C. Interior. The city developed in 1893 when part of the ranches owned by William Voght, Jesus Garcia, and John Charters was surveyed for a town site. [1]

Once known as Forksdale, the community adopted its current name in 1906 in honour of mining engineer and railway promoter William Hamilton Merritt. The 24 square kilometers (9 sq mi) city limits consists of the community, a number of civic parks, historical sites, an aquatic centre, a local arena, a public library (which is a branch of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Library System) and a civic centre. Merritt has dozens of bronzed hand prints of country music stars that have been in the city for the annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival displayed throughout town. Merritt is also home to a local radio station, two weekly newspapers and the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology campus. Nearby, there are four provincial parks, more than 100 lakes, and several recreational trails. Merritt is officially branded as the Country Music Capital of Canada.

Highway 5, Highway 8, Highway 5A and Highway 97C all intersect at Merritt with Highway 97C East connecting the city to Kelowna and Penticton, Highway 97C Northwest to Logan Lake, Highway 8 to Spences Bridge and Lillooet, Highway 5A South to Princeton, Highway 5A North to Kamloops, Highway 5 South to Hope, and Highway 5 North to Kamloops. Merritt's economy is dominated by the primary industries of forestry, tourism, and service. A member city of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, it is represented in provincial politics by the British Columbia New Democratic Party and in federal politics by the Conservative Party of Canada.

For years, the Merritt area was used as a gathering place by local settlers First Nations groups and a transportation route by early pioneers. The grasslands eventually drew the attention of settlers interested in ranching, and the first ranches were staked in the mid-1800s.

In the 1880s three ranches located at the confluence of the Nicola and Coldwater Rivers, owned by William Voght, Jesus Garcia, and the John Charters Estate, became the focus of a farming community knows as "The Forks". With the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway through British Columbia in 1885, interest increased in the coal deposits south of The Forks.

Part of the ranches owned by Voght, Garcia and Charters was surveyed in 1893 for the townsite of Forksdale, but the name did not catch on with locals. Instead, the name was changed in 1906 to honour William Hamilton Merritt, a mining engineer and railway promoter. By 1907, the coal mines were in operation and with the completion of the railway from Spences Bridge, government and other offices starting moving from Nicola west to establish Merritt as the major settlement in the Nicola Valley.

Armstrong's Store moved from Lower Nicola to Nicola Avenue in Merritt in the spring of 1907. G.B. Armstrong became Merritt's first postmaster at this location in 1908. In 1910, Armstrong's Department Store moved to 2025 Quilchena Avenue. In 1909, the Bank of Montreal moved from the settlement of Nicola to Merritt. A.E. Howse moved his department store to the west end of Nicola Avenue. The Nicola Herald, founded at Nicola Lake in 1905, moved from Nicola to Merritt in 1909 and the name changed to the Merritt Herald and Nicola Valley Advocate. Other the industries developed in the Valley, including ranching, copper mining, and forestry, and as a result, new business buildings were constructed.