Would you like to travel back in time? Then choose your own adventure by visiting local heritage sites as you discover the history of the communities along the West Koot Route.
Rossland: A Pioneer’s Paradise
If you head toward Rossland, be prepared for a deep exploration into the heritage and architectural art of this region. The beginnings of the small town are linked to both the discovery and mining of gold in the surrounding mountains. As you explore, be sure to stop at the Rossland Miners’ Union Hall or the Flying Steamshovel.
Castlegar: Historic Jewel of the Region
From Rossland, drive north toward Castlegar and go for a visit to Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park. There have been many inhabitants on the island, from over two thousand years ago when the Lakes Salish people first fished and built their winter pit houses here. After that, drive over to the Brilliant Bridge Regional Park. The Brilliant Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Kootenay River constructed by the Doukhobor community in 1913 and restored for use in 2009.
The Doukhobor Discovery Center is located off of highway 3 and is a heritage site and museum portraying the life of the doukhobor settlers in the early 1900’s. Consisting of several buildings housing relics and items that the doukhobors used during that time period.
Located just beside the downtown railway the Castlegar Railway Station was a bustling hub of activity and travel that established Castlegar as a transportation hub until it was closed down. Then it was bought and restored from 1930 to 1990. Then it reopened to the public as a museum portraying the history of Castlegar and the Station.
Nelson: Something for Everyone
From Castlegar, head east toward Nelson and into the heart of the Kootenays. Be sure to make a stop at the Verigin Memorial Park, a Doukhobor burial site and tranquil flower garden.
Once you’re in Nelson, there are many historic sites to visit. You may wish to start learning about the heritage of the area with a self guided tour. You will not want to miss the Number 23 Streetcar that still runs along Lakeside park. Also, poke your head into the Chamber of Mines of Eastern British Columbia. As enthusiasts for information, they have a resource library with an extensive collection of geological information and maps, as well as rock and mineral specimens.
Nelson Museum and Art Gallery is another great resource to immerse yourself in the history of the region. They have a permanent museum and two rotating exhibition galleries showcasing both local and outside artists.
BALFOUR & AINSWORTH HOT SPRINGS: buildings with a story
From Nelson, head east along Kootenay Lake to Balfour and Ainsworth Hot Springs. If you’re getting on the ferry in Balfour, you’ll notice a quirky piece of history – The Wheelhouse. Originally plying the waters on board the M.V. Anscomb, this quirky piece of nautical history was retired from service in the 1960s. St Michaels and All Angels Chapel is one of the oldest, timber framed buildings in the Kootenays. Built back in 1892, this blue painted church served the parish for 128 years and today it is under renovation.
After a fire in 1896 raged through Ainsworth Hot Springs, the J. B. Fletcher Store was rebuilt and served the community until 1973. Now open after restoration, step back in time into one of the few surviving commercial buildings – complete with historic display counters, shelves and a charming cash register.
KASLO & NORTH KOOTENAY LAKE: HERITAGE SITES GALORE
Traveling north from Balfour, you’ll find Kalso – proud home to the SS Moyie. It’s the oldest intact passenger sternwheeler in the world. Open for you to relive the days when passenger sternwheelers took people up and down the Kootenay River.
The Langham Cultural Centre is a multi-award winning centre which does an excellent job of bringing to life that period of time in history, with 3 galleries and an excellent programme of curated events.
If you are on a real adventure, be sure to pass through Kaslo and go straight on up to Lardeau to visit their ghost towns – a relic of boom or bust on the gold trail.
Arrow Slocan: A Pass Through Time
If you go north through New Denver, you can bear witness to The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre. A National Historic Site which is dedicated to telling the sombre story of over 22,000 Japanese Canadians who were forcibly relocated during World War II.