Region One : THE COLUMBIA WETLAND
Located on the glacial till deposit that separates the Columbia River and Kootenay River, it was the site of post-contact hydro development as early as the 1880s with William Adolf Baillie Gorman's Canal. His Canal attempted to link the Kootenay River into Columbia Lake and reduce the flooding downstream along the Kootenay River at Creston. The canal was not a success: it was used only twice for boat traffic in 1894 and 1902 before it was abandoned.
Kootenae House / Invermere
A former trading post built by David Thompson in 1807 for the Northwest Trading Company, Kootenae House is now known as Invermere. It is a recreational haven with Windermere Lake and ski hills located nearby, as well as gathering, hunting and fishing grounds for the Secwepemc (Shuswap) and a present-day location of the their band office.
As Golden is located along the TransCanada Highway and the CPR route across the country, its development was linked to transportation. Settlement began in 1882 with a survey party scouting the route through the Selkirk Mountains to Revelstoke. After the completion of the railway through Rogers Pass, forestry took over as a main industry. When Swiss guides hired by the CPR began exploring the surrounding mountains in the early 20th Century, Golden was also one of the first tourism areas in the province. Today tourism, forestry and the CPR continue to be cornerstones of Golden's economy.
Region Two : THE BIG BEND
Named by explorer and mapmaker David Thompson, it was located at the confluence of the Canoe, Wood and Columbia Rivers. Thompson and his party remained here for the winter of 1810-11, constructing boats that would allow them to continue to explore the Columbia and Kootenay River systems to the mouth at the Pacific Ocean. It remained an important stop for traders and missionaries traveling through Athabasca Pass to the Columbia River and those later adventurers who used the Big Bend highway to travel between Revelstoke and Golden and points further a field.
The construction of the Mica Dam and the creation of the Kinbasket Reservoir destroyed Boat Encampment which remains today only as a description and in photographs.
Settled as early as 1885 as Canadian Pacific Railroad constructed the line through the Selkirk Mountains across Rogers Pass from Golden, it became an important distribution centre for the region. It connected the communities along the Columbia River and Arrow Lakes to the CPR. As well, the completion of the Big Bend Highway in 1940 and the TransCanada highway across Rogers Pass led vehicle traffic through the city. The CPR, forestry and mining have been important factors for its growth. As well, hydroelectric development, from the first dam on the Illecillewaet River in 1898 to the Walter Hardman Project in the 1960s, the Mica Dam in the early 1970s and finally the Revelstoke Dam in the 1980s have all had impacts on the economy of the region.
Region Three: THE ARROW LAKES
Nakusp is a Sinixt Interior Salish word that means where "something in the lake comes together". It was a Sinixt year round village site for thousands of years before the first European Finan McDonald (who was part of David Thompson's party) arrived in 1811. It was believed that Nakusp would become a mining town, like so many of its counterparts, but it instead became a forestry and agricultural centre with the first sawmill opening in 1893 and many farms and ranches nearby. It was linked to the outside world by the CPR water transport route that extended the length of the Arrow Lakes and Columbia River from Revelstoke south to Robson. When the Hugh Keenleyside Dam was constructed the waterfront of Nakusp was relocated to higher elevation and the area was cleared and graded in preparation for the rising water levels.
Located on the eastern shore of the Lower Arrow Lake, Fauquier was relocated further up the mountainside in the late 1960s in preparation for the flooding of the valley behind the Hugh Keenleyside Dam. It was connected to Needles on the opposite shore of the Columbia River, by a ferry that was replace by a larger one once the size of the water crossing increased as well.
Until European contact, Burton was known as "xaieken" , a sizeable year-round village of Sinixt people where they fished and gathered plant foods in the river narrows, between the Arrow Lakes. Built on the low-lying flats of the riverbank, Burton was spurred to existence in the late 1890s when placer gold was found in the creek that crossed through the town. Before it was relocated above the level of the floodwaters, it boasted a school, playing fields, store, two churches and a community hall.
Known before contact to the Sinixt as "buffalo robe" this village at the head of the upper Arrow Lake, became Arrowhead, the terminus for the CPR spur line south from Revelstoke completed in 1890s. It was a major supply point for the Arrow Lakes and the Lardeau Valley. It was also home to two of the largest sawmills in the region and supported a population of over 500 by 1911. It suffered two major fires, a rockslide and a tidal wave before it was drowned by the Arrow Lakes Reservoir behind the Hugh Keenleyside Dam in 1969.
Known to the Sinixt as nk'mapeleks or "head of the lake" this was a large year-round village important for huckleberries and root digging. It became Beaton, located south of Arrowhead on the Beaton Arm of the Upper Arrow Lake. It served as an entry point to the mining riches of the Lardeau Valley from the north. At its peak it boasted stores, a hotel, an assay office and homes until these were destroyed by fire in 1904. Beaton was rebuilt, but never as prosperous as it once was as the mining interests in the area waned. In 1969, it was covered by floodwaters from the Hugh Keenleyside Dam.
Fruit growing was the reason for Renata. It was located on a creek delta of rich soil and shielded from cold winds by the surrounding mountains. The ideal location for orchards in the region, it was known for cherries, apples, pears and peaches, with some of the fruit crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
The Minto sternwheeler was Renata's main link to the rest of the world until it was retired by the CPR and service was extended to the town by means of a cable ferry and road to Robson. The vast majority of the fertile land was cleared and covered by the Arrow Lakes Reservoir in 1969 behind the Hugh Keenleyside Dam at Robson.
Located at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers, Castlegar has an ideal location that was long-recognized by the Sinixt, who lived in permanent villages here for thousands of years. From this point, travel is and always has been possible in all four directions either by water or land. North by water to Revelstoke, East by rail to Nelson, South to Trail and points beyond by water and West now by highway to the Boundary. David Thompson stopped at the confluence on his journey back to Boat Encampment in 1811. Later home to the Doukhobors, who sought their Utopia at the confluence. The steamboats stopped here as well.
Region Four : UPPER KOOTENAY RIVER
In 1891 a rich deposit of galena was found in the hills above what is now Kimberley and the mining history of the area began. A year later the Sullivan Mine was staked, which would go on to produce ore for over 100 years. Originally known as Mark Creek Crossing, the name was changed to Kimberley in 1896 after the productive mines of Kimberley, South Africa. Cominco bought the Sullivan Mine in 1909 and operated it until 2001.
Another mining town, Fernie's economy was based on coal. Mining began in 1897 and soon the Canadian Pacific Railroad followed. Forestry was also a driving force in the economy as large camps set up around the area. Fernie has survived many disasters, some manmade -mining accidents and economic depressions, and some natural - fires and floods.
Logging initiated the settlement of Elko, a planer mill established in 1898 by Charles E. Eyre, the North Star Lumber Company. A store, school, hotel and post office were set up and a hospital soon followed. Developers were not far behind and soon the area was being marketed as a prime fruit ranching location. Once the Elko Dam was in place and operating by 1924, the residents of the area looked forward to a supply of electricity, but it was not to be. All of the power was used in Kimberley at the mine and the new concentrator plant and at the coal mines.
Wardner was located in what was once a strong agricultural and forestry community that saw its livelihood drowned with the rising water of the Koocanusa Reservoir.
First settled in 1905, Waldo was located at the confluence of the Kootenay and Elk Rivers, north of the Canada-US border. It was the location of the Ross Saskatoon Lumber Company and the Baker Lumber Company, both very prosperous mills in the area. Waldo was also home to the Krag Hotel, run by Mary Palmer from 1906, known for its fine service. The town of Waldo ceased to exist when the floodwaters of the Koocanusa Reservoir reached the site in 1973.
Region Five : KOOTENAY LAKE, DUNCAN LAKE
Creston is located at the south end of Kootenay Lake, where the Kootenay River flows in from the south. This place has long been home to the Yaqaon Nunkiy, members of the Ktunaxa First Nation who hunted, fished and gathered in the area. Before the river reaches the lake, it passes through the flat, rich flood plain that William-Adolph Baillie-Grohman attempted to drain of the seasonal flooding as early as 1882. Baillie-Grohman built a canal at Canal Flats to divert the Kootenay River into the Columbia and blasted rock at the outlet of Kootenay Lake's West to try to drain the floodplain. Long after he abandoned his attempt to reclaim the Creston Flats, others took up the cause and in 1935, the area was finally reclaimed. Disastrous floods followed, but with the construction of the Libby Dam in 1973, water levels are more predictable and Baillie-Grohman's dream of rich agricultural land has at last been realized.
The village of Kaslo is located on the shore of Kootenay Lake, nestled at the base of the mineral rich Selkirk Mountains with awe inspiring views of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy. 1890 saw the first permanent resident of Kaslo, when George Kane sent his brother David to live there alone all summer. The next year, boosted by the rich mining claims found up the Kaslo River valley, the town was booming. It became a regular stop for the SS Nelson sternwheeler. By 1897, George Alexander of the Kootenay Electric Light and Power Company has completed the electric light plant and waterworks. The mining in the area eventually petered out, but the area persevered. The lake service provided by the CPR sternwheelers ensured Kaslo with contact with the outside world and some agriculture and forestry today maintained its economic base.
Howser was located at the outlet of Duncan Lake into the Duncan River. At its peak, the town had a sawmill, hotels, brewery, a store, post office and its own police officer. It was supposed to be the terminus for two railways the Great Northern and the Canadian Pacific, but land negotiations failed and the companies abandoned the location. The area provided the mines and camps with fruit and vegetables, until the demand fell. Before the water of the new Duncan Reservoir began to back up, the town of Howser was relocated to a higher bench above the lake.
Region Six : THE SLOCAN
Eli Carpenter and Jack Seaton found rich silver/lead deposits here in 1891, and others soon followed them into the deep valley where Sandon is located. It was a typical mining town, with numerous hotels, saloons, sawmills and churches, and a population over 5000. One of the first hydroelectric generating stations was set up in Sandon to power the needs of the city, and this spurred other growth including tramlines and concentrator. The city was destroyed twice by forces of nature, once by fire in 1900 and once by water as Carpenter Creek flooded down the valley in 1955. The city has seen many changes over the years, from the mining boom at the turn of the 20th Century to the internment of 1000 Japanese-Canadians during World War Two, to a rebirth as tourism and historic site.
Silverton and New Denver
Located on the edge of Slocan Lake, with the Valhalla Range looking down from the west, the villages of Silverton and New Denver were discovered by prospectors in 1892 looking for ore. Mining was the mainstay for this area until the 1920s. During WWII many of the Japanese- Canadians were located here and in the Slocan Valley.
Region Seven : THE BOUNDARY
Greenwood was one of the main centres for mining and smelting copper in the Boundary Region. It was home to the British Columbia Copper Company than was in operation from 1901 to 1918. The remnants of the smelter are still visible today in the black slag piles and the brick chimney. Once home to 3000 people, Greenwood is today the smallest city in British Columbia.
Incorporated in 1897, Grand Forks began as an agricultural settlement. That changed in 1899 with the construction of the Granby Smelter by the Granby Mining and Smelting Company, at the time the largest non-ferrous copper smelter in the British Commonwealth. The Granby Smelter processed the ore from the nearby town of Phoenix and powered the smelter with its own hydro dam, supplemented by the Cascade Dam and then power from the West Kootenay Power Dams on Kootenay River. The smelter remained open until the closure of the Phoenix mines in 1919 forced the closure of the Granby Smelter in 1920.
Cascade was nicknamed the "Gateway City" as it was a main route from the Boundary across the International Border to Spokane Washington. Its location near the border, the close proximity of productive mines, the promise of a smelter, the CPR and a hydro dam should have ensured its prosperity. The smelter never materialized, the mines eventually shut down and the town was wiped out by fire twice in three years.
Situated at 1400 metres (4,593 feet) above sea level, Phoenix was the highest city in Canada when it was incorporated in 1900. It was also situated on a large deposit of copper ore that resulted in one of the most sophisticated mining centres in the area. By 1911, Phoenix boasted a population of 4000 and a hospital, brewery, multiple saloons and an ice rink. When the ore body was depleted, the Granby Mining and Smelting Company, who owned the majority of the claims and the smelter in Grand Forks, decided to shut down the mines in Phoenix in 1919. With no economy without the mines in operation, Phoenix was a ghost town within a year.
Region Eight : THE KOOTENAY/ COLUMBIA/ PEND D'OREILLE RIVERS
Home to the first municipally-owned hydro power plant in British Columbia, Nelson has transformed itself many times since the discovery of silver rich ore in the mountains surrounding it. The Silver King Mine was in production from 1888 to 1902. The Hall Mines Smelter built to process the ore operated from 1895 to 1907. This was only the beginning of Nelson's boon and bust cycle that is continued to this day. The ability of the city to withstand the economic hardships of major resource industries shutting down and leaving town has been based partly on the ownership of the powerplant on the Kootenay River. Producing and selling power has allowed the city to rely on some constant economic generation.
Incorporated in 1901, the City of Trail became the industrial centre for the area with the construction of a smelter on the bank of the Columbia River to handle the ore from the productive Rossland mines. As the smelter grew, so did the city. The formation of the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada Limited (CM&S) in 1906, the purchase by the CM&S of the Sullivan Mine in Kimberley in 1910 and the expansion of the smelter over the years have all been economic drivers for Trail.
The discovery of gold and copper ore on the face of Red Mountain by Joe Moris and Joe Bourgeois in 1890 was one of the major milestones in the development of the region. Red Mountain was an important location for huckleberry gathering by the Sinixt, who call the mountain kmarkn, or "smooth top". Mining was the focal point for Rossland until the ore beds were depleted and production stopped. Rossland then transformed itself into a residential community for the industrial workers in Trail.