Communities of Kootenay Lake
The beauty and wildness of the Kootenay Lake Valley has always exercised a magnetic pull on nature-loving souls. Many of us have chosen this area as home. That buoyant spirit fosters an open, inclusive sense of belonging that is attractive to visitors and newcomers alike, contributing to the continued growth and well-being of our communities. With a steady influx of many travelled individuals and families from “away,” our towns thrive with a diverse mix of talents and a cosmopolitan outlook, as well as those with a deeply rooted rural past.
The settlers on the east shore of Kootenay Lake were originally served by paddle wheeler. Highway 3A was completed in the 1950’s and these social centres began to blend together in what our local monthly paper calls The East Shore Mainstreet. Visit the East Shore Mainstreet’s website at www.mainstreet.eshore.ca
The village began in 1882 with the staking of the famous Bluebell mining claim – an intriguing tale of claim-jumping and murder. Since the mine’s closure in 1971, recreation and retirement have become Riondel’s mainstays. Today it is a tidy hamlet with pebbly beaches, 9-hole golf course and lakeshore campground with a spectacular lake view north towards Mount Loki. Visit Riondel’s website at www.riondel.ca
The eastern terminus of the Kootenay Lake Ferry, this tiny community stretches down Pilot Point south of the Ferry Landing. Just north, find the Yasodhara Ashram which draws yoga enthusiasts from around the world.
Originally homesteads with orchards and hayfields, Kokanee Springs Golf Resort now occupy most of the green floodplain of Crawford Creek. The sandy beach is gradual enough for small children.
Visitors love to tour the unique Artisan’s shops. Services include a Health Care Centre, the Nelson & District Credit Union and a new Crawford Bay Elementary Secondary School built with high environmental standards.
The Community Park hosts Sunday Markets, regular soccer and the Starbelly Jam Music festival.
Originally where the paddle wheeler loaded passengers for Nelson and points west, this was the only route connecting western British Columbia with the rest of Canada for many years. The pilings are still visible at the historic Gray Creek Store. The Gray Creek Historical Society booklet with self guided tour information on historic sites is sold at both stores. Keep an eye out for the old wooden water wheel. This is the western end of the summer only Gray Creek Pass forestry road to Kimberley.
Highway 3A winds through these scenic communities, locally considered the “banana belt” for their warmer winter temperatures. The highway here provides dramatic views of the lake and towering mountains. The communities offer public beaches and picnic areas, unique roadside attractions and art galleries.
Just south of shallow Duck Lake, Wynndel is the home of a lumber mill, the beginning of farm country and hosts a winery andKunze art gallery.