After leaving the beautiful Kettle Valley we began to head into a region known as the Kootenay Rockies. This is the southeastern corner of BC where the jagged peaks of the Rockies rise in parallel with those of the Purcell, Selkirk and Monashee ranges. In between these mountains lie valleys, lakes and mighty rivers, including the Kootenay and the Columbia River, which originates here in BC.
Mining was the big industry here in the late 1800’s and small Victorian towns dot the region. The mines are no longer in operation and now adventure tourism is the name of game. Today visitors come to the Kootenay Rockies for a rich palette of recreational activities that include world class hiking, biking, climbing, river-rafting, paragliding, canoeing, numerous hot springs, wildlife viewing and golfing.
We spent 2 nights at Kokanee Creek PP located just north of Nelson on the 65 mile long Kootenay Lake. While exploring Nelson we were able to attend a museum exhibit about the Doukobors, a radical pacifist group of Russians who immigrated to Canada in the 1800’s and later settled in this area. Their unusual method of protest attracted much media and police attention during the 1950’s. This is a segment of Canadian history that I knew very little about, but I remember my mother talking about them and I was eager to find out more, since we were right in the area. Click here for more info.
We then headed north to the pretty little town of Kaslo where the world’s oldest intact passenger sternwheeler, the SS Moyie, is located. Built in 1898 for the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Moyie steamed on Kootenay Lake until 1957 and was the last passenger carrying sternwheeler operating in Canada. Hundreds of steamers similar to the Moyie worked on nearly every river in the west, even plying dangerous rapids. It was great touring her and we were surprised at how luxurious she had been for such a tough working ship of her day.
These old mining towns are great, not only do they have beautiful Victorian architecture but they have attracted artisans of every specialty as well. There are shops located in all the towns and many residences along the way. I could easily do another tour of just the hot springs and galleries located along this route. Oh well, perhaps another day.