A Trip to Trail, BC

Thursday, while Jim finished up the planter, Sarah and I and the kids took Kendrick’s mother to an appointment in Trail, about an hour and a half drive south west of Kaslo. I enjoyed the ride snug between the two booster seats of my darling grandchildren, while reading stories, sharing snacks and watching for wild animals.

I’d never been to Trail before. When the appointment was over, we all trooped into  a local delicatessen for some freshly made sandwiches and beverages before driving across the bridge to Gyro Park to devour them, and to bask in the sun. We spent a few hours walking along the beach and the rocks; the kids practiced  their new fishing skills some more, and took a ride on a make-believe sailing ship. I attempted to capture every interesting moment with my camera.

Gyro Park

Breathtaking vistas

Gyro Park

Fishing at Gyro Park

Fishing Practice

Gyro Park

Steam billowing from a plant across the river

A Kayaker practicing white-watering

A Kayaker practicing white-watering

Dog enjoying the chase

Dog enjoying the chase

Gyro Park

The large rock and metal pole on the left became the make-believe ship. What fun!

But too soon the sun was lowering and it was time to head back to Kaslo.


A Little About Kaslo, BC

The next few days were devoted to helping family and friends with projects. Sarah’s mother-in-law had just recently received word that she had, after being on a waiting list for three years, been granted an apartment in the seniors’ complex, so I pitched in to help her start downsizing, while Jim built her a planter/privacy wall for her patio. We found some time to enjoy lunch at The Blue Bell with the family on Sunday, and Jim and I strolled along the main street, checking out the shops and taking pictures.

Kaslo sign

Kaslo is a great little town nestled below the mountain peaks and overlooking Kootenay Lake. Life there always seems simple and relaxed. There are farms in the area, many of which provide organic produce. Eating local and organic is a much easier choice than it is in Ontario, but anything that has to be imported, even from other parts of BC, is more expensive since transporting it is challenging. Although most people walk around Kaslo, a vehicle is a necessity to get anywhere outside the town. There are no trains, planes or buses. The closest bus terminal is an hour away, in Nelson; the closest airport is in Castlegar, an hour in the opposite direction and an expensive trip.  That’s why we flew into Kelowna and rented a car. But it’s worth the effort. The small town atmosphere is so inviting that you feel like you are part of a big family within minutes of arriving. There is a big, new hotel, and a motel, and several B & Bs so finding accommodations is relatively easy. However, Kaslo holds many weekend events that bring people in, so you should definitely check ahead if you plan to visit.

On the outside wall of the hotel, there is a little history of Kaslo portrayed in old pictures. Some things we were amazed to learn from this mural:

  • Survey crews laid out the Kaslo Town Site in 1889
  • A miner, J. Will Cockle, discovered the 125 pound Galena boulder, which became famous, in 1892 when he accidentally sheared a piece of rock while cutting a tent pole. Cockle was also a steam tug owner, a boat builder, an orchardist and an entomologist.
  • The Kaslo Hotel opened in 1896 and was expanded twice to accommodate the booming mining community. The stories of the original owners, J. Will Cockle and W.V. Papworth, reveal a large part of local history. Papworth owned the silver-rich Texas Mine, and later served for over twenty years as Town Clerk and Kaslo’s Mayor.
  • Cockle and Papworth sold the Kaslo Hotel in 1913. Daddy “Big Kid” Desmond managed the hotel, bar and billiards through much of the depression. After twenty years of depression the hotel and the town became run down.
  • In May of 1942, when Japanese Canadians were being moved from the West Coast and interned in Kootenay ghost towns after Pearl Harbor, internees began to arrive in Kaslo to face an uncertain future.  Some 1200 Japanese Canadians made up two-thirds of the town’s population.  Many were housed in The Kaslo Hotel. Most of the hotel residents were women and children and the conditions were cramped. The bus station (there was one then) was always busy as internees were constantly moved from camp to camp or to Eastern Canada. In 1945 the Kaslo Internment Camp was closed and Front Street became once again much less lively. The original hotel was replaced in 1958 with a masonry building.  Directly behind the Kaslo Hotel is the rail-to-water link, where rail barges were loaded from steamship to railroad up until 1957.
  • Kaslo experienced another boom in the 1960s with the building of Duncan Dam just up from the lake. The hotel was owned and operated by the Campbell family by then. Between 1957 and 2006, the hotel was known as The Mariner Inn. In 2007 the Eckland family bought The Kaslo Hotel and began a complete rebuild to an exacting heritage design by Robert Inwood. It is operated by Geoff Beer and Tom Eckland.
Kaslo Hotel

Kaslo Hotel Today


The Kaslo Hotel wasn’t the only hotel in town during the heyday of mining. The Langham Hotel had been built in 1896. It was so busy during this economic high that beds were rented in three shifts a day. During the Depression, it too fell into disrepair. During the Second World War the Langham was used as an internment centre for approximately 80 Canadians of Japanese descent.

The Langham

The Langham today

In 1974 a small group of Kaslo residents decided to take this derelict heritage building, about to be demolished, restore it and turn it into a cultural centre. In June of 1975 the Langham Cultural Society was registered as a society. Today this award-winning building offers a theatre, an art gallery and The Japanese Canadian Museum. To learn more about this interesting history, visit the website.

The S.S. Moyie moored at Heritage Park is another bit of history that you’ll want to visit.

S.S. Moyie

This picture was taken in 2008 when we visited Kaslo by bike

Kaslo is definitely a three-season tourist destination. During the winter months the snow is heavy and the roads are often blocked by avalanches.


Day 4 of Kaslo, BC Visit

Saturday dawned wet and cool. We had breakfast at The Treehouse Restaurant before meeting up with the family at the popular Farmer’s Market, where fresh vegetables were purchased and local crafts admired. The rain let up so we could enjoy lunch in the warmth of the sun outside one of the many bakery/coffee shops along Front Street, the main street.

Treehouse Restaurant

A great family-style restaurant as long as you don’t have food allergies

Jim and I shared a table with a photo journalist who had recently returned from documenting life in South America. He told us of the slide show presentation he was giving at the Langham Museum and Cultural Centre next Friday evening, an event we planned to attend.

After lunch, it was decided that we should all go pick up our swim suits and take the half-hour drive along Kootenay Lake to Ainsworth Hot Springs, another one of our favourite places to visit when in the area.


Ainsworth Hot Springs,

Ainsworth Hot Springs, on the hill

There’s nothing like soaking in the warm water of the natural springs, while watching the children splash about. A sign above the door told us that the temperature in the large pool was 101 degrees Fahrenheit. For the brave, there was an option to wade through a tunnel where the temperature was 104 degrees. Jim made it through, but I had to stay near the entrance.  The heat and humidity made it difficult to breathe. At the entrance to the tunnel you can also get quickly cooled off by getting into the plunge pool, a cool 59 degrees! Up to our ankles was enough of that for us!

Continuing the BC Visit

I have to admit that I’m often a very distracted writer, and often drift off to do other things rather than getting on with the writing that I really do want to do. But when it comes to family, I cannot feel guilty about being distracted; time with them is just too precious. So my plan to blog daily about our wonderful trip to BC was soon, necessarily, cast aside. Now that I’m home, I will make a determined effort to post daily until we’ve completed the journey together.

Day Two

After spending the morning planning a patio project for a friend, we joined my daughter, Sarah, and her two children on a hike part way up Buchanan Mountain to “the bench”, overlooking Kaslo. I was reminded along the way that, although I may look fit, I don’t get enough regular cardio exercise. That wooden bench was beautiful! The view from it made the trek worthwhile.

On the Bench

Made It!

View from Bench

View from Bench

Along the way my five year old grandson discovered these huge lobster mushrooms, which we cooked up for dinner.

Lobster Mushrooms

Lobster Mushrooms

lobster mushrooms

cooked for dinner

Day Three

My other daughter, Ann, arrived from Vancouver last night and she joined us and Sarah’s family on a trip to the Meadow Creek Spawning Channel, one of many channels created to compensate for the loss of natural spawning habitat due to the building of dams, in this case, The Duncan Dam, about ten kilometers above Kootenay Lake.

The Meadow Creek Spawning Channel is located at the north end of Kootenay Lake, north of Highway 31 on the Meadow Creek Road.  It was constructed in 1967 with B.C. Hydro funds and was the world’s largest at the time, supporting a total of 250,000 spawning Kokanee. It produces between 10 – 15 million fry annually with mean egg-to-fry survival rate of 45%. There is fisheries staff on site during the spawning season, which is August through October.

Meadow Creek Spawning Channel

Meadow Creek Spawning Channel

spawning channel

watching the fish

The water was red with fish.  There were signs warning of Grizzly Bears being seen in the area. We kept a close eye out, and didn’t stray from the paths, but there were several people sitting with cameras poised, hoping to get a shot of one.

From there we continued on to Duncan Lake for a picnic and kids’ fishing lessons on the beach.

Duncan Lake

Sisters sharing a moment

Drift Wood

Lots of Drift Wood on the beach

The sky was clear and the sun warm. The “resident” members of the family took the opportunity for a swim, while the rest of us watched and relaxed.

On the way back to Kaslo, we stopped to let Ann explore the Marble Cave that we’d discovered a few years ago.

Marble Mine

Graffiti cover walls of an old marble mine

A family dinner back at Sarah’s was a perfect ending to a perfect day.