Vegetation assemblages and associated disturbance regimes are spatially heterogeneous in mountain ecosystems throughout the world due to the complex terrain and strong environmental gradients. Given this complexity, numerous sites describing postglacial vegetation and fire histories are needed to adequately understand forest development and ecosystem responses to varying climate and disturbance regimes. To gain insight into long-term historical climate–fire–vegetation interactions in southeastern British Columbia, Canada, sedimentological and paleoecological analyses were performed on a sediment core recovered from a small subalpine lake. The pollen assemblages, stomata, and macroremains indicate that from 9500 to 7500 cal yr BP, Pinus-dominated forests occurred within the catchment and Alnus was also present. Climate was an important control of fire and fire frequency was highest at this time, peaking at 8 fires 1000 yr− 1, yet charcoal accumulation rates were low, indicative of low terrestrial biomass abundance. From 7500 to 4600 cal yr BP, Pinus decreased as Picea, Abies and Larix increased and fire frequencies decreased to 3–6 fires 1000 yr− 1. Since 7500 cal yr BP the fire regime varied at a millennial scale, driven by forest biomass abundance and fuel accumulation changes. Local scale (bottom-up) controls of fire increased in relative importance since at least 6000 cal yr BP.