The Development of the Kaslo River Trail

The Kaslo River was often subjected to severe flooding during the 1800s. In 1895-96, during the rebuilding of the town after one such flood, the first hydro-electric system was included in the construction. It was privately operated by George Alexander. Kaslo Creek (River) was rerouted southwards into the current channel. In 1914 the City of Kaslo purchased Kaslo Power and Light for $27,000. It was upgraded in 1931 to be fully automatic. Another flood occurred in 1948 and in 1962 the power utility was abandoned, putting Kaslo onto the BC Hydro grid.

Hiking trails began to develop along this abandoned land, but they were treacherous. In 2005 the many townspeople who like to use these trails formed the Kaslo Trailblazers Society and began the Kaslo River Trail Project.

Many volunteer hours over the past ten years have resulted in two beautiful, safe hiking trails along both sides of the river, joined by red-stained wooden bridges at each end, both built by the volunteers. Where parts of the trail have become flooded in recent years, new higher links have been created and reinforced with wooden steps. Rope railings to assist with the climb, and wooden or steel benches, dedicated to donors, make the hike more friendly to people of various physical fitness. Animal-proof garbage cans have also been added to help keep the area clean.

And the scenery is fantastic!


Last Two Packed-with-Fun Days in Kaslo

The wind was cold, the sky grey, the rain pelted down, as we stood in front of the too-wet-to-sit-upon bleachers that had been erected along the waterfront especially for the event. We were watching and waiting for sight of one or both of our grandchildren.  They, each accompanied by a parent, were participating in the annual Sufferfest being held in Kaslo. What is Sufferfest you might ask?

To quote the website intro: “Kaslo Sufferfest is a dynamic mountain biking and trail running event in the Kootenay Region’s mountain village of Kaslo in British Columbia.” This is a two-day event that draws many participants from the Kootenay area. There are races of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty for anyone age thirteen years and up. There is also, on Saturday only, an option for kid’s ages thirteen and under to bike or run a 2.5km course departing from Vimy Park.

Our five-year-old grandson is a fast and enthusiastic runner, too fast for Sarah to keep up to, so he was accompanied by his father in the eight and under running class. Sarah and her four-year-old daughter chose mountain biking in the six and under class.

Children began to trickle in, and after about fifteen minutes we saw a little pink bike, carrying a very determined, blond-haired girl round the corner, mother closely in tow. She saw us standing there, I’m sure, but her eyes were on the finish line. The fact that she’d come in last did not faze her. She was proud to have just completed the task.  And well she should be, considering she was the only four-year-old in the race, and she had just learned to ride a two-wheeler a month ago!

Before long the runners started to appear and we soon saw the boy we were looking for come running and smiling around the corner. Our presence distracted him and we had to remind him to continue onto the finish line. He was awarded a second place “medal” (huge chocolate chip cookie on a lanyard). I think he might just make a name for himself as a runner one day.

On Sunday morning we were honoured to be invited to join Sarah and Kendrick and the kids at a Drumming Circle and drum-making workshop, being held by the local Aboriginal Community at the Kaslo Youth Centre. We were warmly welcomed into the Circle, invited to share lunch, and encouraged to ask questions, take pictures and lend a hand in the making of drums and sticks.

The first step to making a drum is to choose a wooden frame.

wooden drum frames

wooden drum frames

Next, a skin is chosen and circles cut from the appropriate sized patterns to  fit the frames.

Tracing Patterns

Tracing Patterns

Long strips of hide are also cut for tying the drum heads onto the frames, and then they are put into warm water, along with the circles, to soak for a couple of hours until well softened and pliable.

Soaking the drum skins

Soaking the drum skins

While we waited we were entertained with songs and stories in the Drumming Circle, lunch was shared and pieces of leather were cut, stuffed and sewn onto wooden dowels to make drum sticks.

When the soaking was done, the hides were punched with holes for tying, and then stretched and tied over the frame, using the long strips of hide. There is a particular pattern to follow.

Punching holes for tying

Punching holes for tying

Drum tying

Drum tying

Drum tying

Drum tying

Drum tying

Once the series of tying is complete, a final piece of hide strip is wrapped around the outside to hold the edges down until the hide has completely dried.


Ready for drying

Completed drums

Completed drums

Sometimes the tying pattern is different, as in the one above, and often times the owner will take their new drum home to personalize it. They all sound wonderful in the drumming circle.

What an interesting way to spend our last day in Kaslo. It reinforced my feelings that Kaslo is like one big, loving, sharing family.

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.


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.

Revisiting a Favourite Destination: BC 2013, Day 1

Mountains over Coldstream

Mountains over Coldstream

It’s been a few years since we’ve driven through the mountains of BC.  I’d forgotten how beautifully majestic they are.

We flew into Kelowna and spent the night with friends in nearby Coldstream, before picking up our rental car the next morning for our drive to Kaslo. By the time we had arranged insurance, coordinated the GPS and bought a map for safe measure, it was time for lunch. We finally got on our way around 12:30 pm.

The air was crisp, but the sun was bright and it followed us most of the way. As usual, my finger was continuously clicking the camera button,  as I tried to capture every “great shot” that I saw. We took Hwy 97 north, from Kelowna back to Coldstream, and then turned east onto Hwy 6.

Hwy 97

Hwy 97 winding around Kalamalka Lake

The road hugged the mountains and curved along the shore of Lake Kalamalka.

Hwy 3

Hwy 97, one of many great motorcycle roads in BC

Both of these highways provide many turns that made us wish we on our motorcycle.

Logging truck on Hwy 3

One of several logging trucks we met on Hwy 6

Cattle on HWY 3

Deer weren’t the only animals we had to watch out for!

At Needles we waited for the free cable ferry to take us across Lower Arrow Lake to Fauquier, a journey of only one kilometer. This ferry has been running since 1913. It runs every fifteen minutes, so our wait was short.

Needles Ferry coming  in

Needles Ferry coming in

Needles Ferry

Needles Ferry, approaching Fauquier

Hwy 6 turns north from Fauquier and follows Arrow Lake to Nakusp, where it becomes Hwy 23, but at Nakusp we took Hwy 47 south-east to the fascinating old town of New Denver, the town we had visited for the Garlic Festival while on our motor home trip in 2010, but we had not seen the downtown. The few businesses on the main street are all colourful clapboard, reminiscent of the mining days.

New Denver Restaurant

New Denver Restaurant

New Denver Bank

A simpler life

Home Hardware

Home Hardware

Dome B&B

Dome B&B worth taking a closer look at, perhaps on our way back.

By the time we had an ice-cream and were on our way again, taking Hwy 31A to Kaslo, the clouds were floating low over the mountain peaks like smoke billowing from a non-existing forest fire.

Low clouds

Low clouds

More twisty roads

More twisty roads on Hwy 31A

We arrived in Kaslo and into the arms of family just as the rain caught up with us.