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Quirky Attractions Only Found in the Kootenays

Only in the Kootenays will you find some of the most unique, historic, cultural and quirky attractions found in the world! These fascinating gems hold the key to our memorable past and the character of our remarkable communities.  Come discover some of our unusual interests only found in the Kootenays!

The hot springs originate around the Cody Caves above and to the east of Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort. The water works its way down through fractures in the rock, increasing in temperature at a rate of 40C per km until it is a lakeshore fault — a rock layer on a 45-degree angle.  This hot springs feature a unique horseshoe cave with falling mineral waters that form into a pool, providing a natural steam bath.  

Ainsworth Hot Springs Cave; Photo by Don Weixl

The two ‘grain elevators’ alongside Highway 3 in Creston are a very few in Canada that are still standing and have survived!  The grain elevators were built in 1935 and 1936, with the red one being the first. They were built to accommodate the wheat and grain crops expected from the Creston flats once they were reclaimed, a project also took place in 1935. Farmers sold their grain to the elevator, which then distributed it to markets in other parts of the country and to destinations around the world.

One of Creston’s Grain Elevators; Photo by Heidi Korven

Celebrating over 110 years, the Doukobor Discover Centre  in Castlegar is a rare heritage attraction nestled at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia rivers. This museum, on traditional Doukhobor orchard land, will introduce you to the unique skills, beliefs, culture and lifestyle of the Doukhobors as lived circa 1908-1939.  This complete communal village offers videos, thousands of artifacts, communal house with petch (over), the banya (sauna), linen textiles and other crafts.

This unusual roadside attraction was built from over half a million discarded embalming fluid bottles. In 1952, David H. Brown retired from 35 years in the funeral business. It occurred to Brown that there should be some practical use to put the bottles to.

The Glass House in Boswell-Sanca, is built in a cloverleaf patter with three main rooms, circular shape, 48 feet in length, 24 feet wide and with the upstairs room, it contains 1,200 sq. ft. of floor space. Flowers border pathways entice visitors from the terrace over a bridge also built of glass bottles. A winding path beneath the bridge leads to the lakeshore and a lookout called the ‘lighthouse’ offers spectacular views of Kootenay Lake.

The Glass House; Photo by Don Weixl

During World War II, over 20,000 Japanese Canadians were forcibly relocated from the coast to remove internment camps. The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre is located on the side of one of ten such camps in the Slocan Valley (near New Denver) and is dedicated to the preservation of the physical history and personal memories of Japanese Canadian internees. It is the only interpretive site of its kind in Canada and contains original internment shacks and a large hand carved Buddhist shrine that was built by a temple carpenter during the war. A beautiful commemorative garden has been created by master gardener and former internee Mr. Roy Sumi.

Castlegar’s Sculpturewalk features sculptures by local and international talented artists, located on a pleasant walking tour. Visitors can vote for their favourite piece via ballot, the winner of the People’s Choice Award is purchased by the city for their permanent collection.

Harold by Lawrence Cormier; Photo by David Gluns

Step back in time aboard the oldest sternwheeler in the world! The SS Moyie, in Kaslo, is the oldest surviving intact vessel of her type in the world. Berthed at the edge of Kootenay Lake, the sternwheeler rests permanently in her former port of call. Owned and operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway, the SS Moyie plied the waters of Kootenay Lake for nearly 60 years.  Launched in 1898 to provide connecting service to Nelson from CPR’s Crowsnest pass line from the east, the Moyie remained a fixture on Kootenay Lake until 1957.

SS Moyie; Photo by Field & Forest

Enjoy the spectacular views and hear the fascinating history of the “Great Sullivan Mine” on Kimberley’s Underground Mining Railway in Kimberley. The rail links the downtown with the site of the old Sullivan Mine surface facilities and recent reclamation activities and continues its route shuttling riders to the base of the Kimberley Alpine Resort.

Fall into the past, relive the memories and enjoy the folklore of the island by going through the Chapel House in Castlegar. The Island park will take you back several thousand years to when the Lakes Salish people first fished and build their winter pit house; when explorer David Thompson sailed down the Columbia River over 200 years ago and when Alexander Zuckerberg built his unique Russian Orthodox Chapel House.

Photo courtesy of Zuckerberg Island/Castlegar Museum

Alexander Zuckerberg, a great Russian writer, humanitarian and pacifist, came to Canada to teach Doukhobor children. Shortly afterwards he settle on the island (later named Zuckerberg Island Park) and began building the Chapel House. Zuckerberg was as unique as his work and is greatly admired to this day by many people.

There are still more:
Cranbrook — Step back in time at Fort Steele Heritage Town.

Fairmont — The Hoodoos are unique land formation created over time Fairmont Hot Springs — Funtastia Fun Park where all their lamas have unique hair cuts, including mohawks.

Kootenay Bay — Our one and only lighthouse in the Kootenays, on Kootenay Lake, is located at the Pilot Bay Provincial Park.

Parson — World’s Largest Paddle at Columbia Outpost Adventures

RevelstokeThe Enchanted Forest features 350 hand-crafted ferry-tale figurines & BC’s tallest treehouse

Revelstoke — at Craigellachie the last spike was driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway on November 7, 1885

Sparwood — Terex Titan: The World’s Largest haul truck

Yahk — Yahk Soap Company go and see their goats on their roof 

Yoho/Kootenay National Park — Burgess Shale Fossils are over 508+ million years old

Know Before You Go – Plan ahead so you can travel safely and responsibly. Familiarize yourself with weather, road conditions, general alerts for travellers and provincial health orders & recommendations.

Cover/top photo by Andrew Penner of the SS Moyie in Kaslo.
Story by Shannon Harrison (KootRocks Staffer).
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