What IS the Kootenay Lifestyle? Part 3 – the History edition

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History buffs – this week is for you!

What are we without our history? Part of the Kootenay Lifestyle includes exploring our past – whether that be the long legacy of the Ktunaxa Nation, Shuswap Band, and  Metis people or our more recent history. Our region has plenty of opportunities to look back and reflect. We can’t begin a look at our past without starting with the Ktunaxa Nation Creation Story.

Cranbrook’s downtown has historic structures like the Clock Tower, the Colonel Baker Home, and the Imperial Bank building. Pick up a self-guided tour map from the Visitor Centre and don’t forget to stop by Cranbrook Ed to learn why an elephant is Cranbrook’s unofficial mascot.  There are also some interesting abandoned buildings and structures you can visit in and around the Cranbrook area. Of course, long before any of these historic structures were in place, the Ktunaxa Nation were living on these lands. You can learn more about their history at the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Interpretive Centre or by taking part in Speaking Earth.

Fernie’s downtown has a number of historical buildings still in use. The Courthouse was built in 1911, City Hall in 1905, and the Fernie Heritage Library is located in the former Post Office and Customs building which was constructed in 1908. Leroux Mansion (1912) also provides an example of late Victorian Gothic architecture worth checking out.  Click for a copy of Fernie’s Heritage Walking Tour map.

Just on the outskirts of the town of Golden, you can find the Edelweiss Swiss Village, the historic home of the pioneering Swiss Mountain Guides in the Rocky Mountains. Along Highway 1, stop to see the point of interest sign located at the former Golden Sikh Temple, the first Sikh Temple in Canada. Visit the Golden Visitor Centre for Golden guides and maps.

In Creston, learn the history behind the Stone House, the 1921 Model T Ford, and the Trapper Cabin Exhibit (though sadly, Jordan’s Cabin was lost in a fire in 2020).

From the first hospital in Invermere to the former 1920’s police barracks, Invermere’s Historical Tour is not short on sites to see.

In addition to these landmarks, you can learn more about our region’s history at the following locations:

  • Cranbrook History Centre
  • Fort Steele Heritage Town
  • Fisherville Historic Site
  • Wildhorse Creek Historic Site
  • Fernie Museum
  • Sparwood Museum
  • Kimberley Heritage Museum
  • Kimberley’s Underground Mining Railway
  • Creston Museum and Archives
  • Sirdar General Store
  • Windermere Valley Museum
  • Kootenae House National Historic Site
  • Golden Museum and Archives