COLUMBIA VALLEY COMMUNITIES

Brisco, Edgewater, Spillimacheen

The pretty hamlet of Edgewater lies just nine kilometres north of Radium Hot Springs. The village offers Pip’s Country Store, gas station, post office, and the Royal Canadian Legion. There is also a thriving arts community that makes use of the Edgewater Community Hall.

Windermere

The name “Windermere” has become synonymous with the entire Columbia Valley, but in fact it refers to a tiny community on the eastern shore of Lake Windermere. This area has long been a favourite destination for Albertans and other visitors from around the world.

Fairmont Hot Springs

The world’s largest outdoor mineral hot pool drew the first visitors to Fairmont Hot Springs more than 100 years ago, and they haven’t stopped since. At the heart of the community is the 140-room Fairmont Hot Springs Lodge, offering a full range of services including fine dining and spa treatments.

Invermere

Travellers driving between Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs might not realize that by taking a short detour off the highway, they will find one of the most beautiful towns in the world. Invermere-on-the-Lake is a community of 3,500 permanent residents on the northern shore of Lake Windermere.

Panorama

The 30-minute drive from Invermere to Panorama winds along the edge of the rugged Toby Creek Canyon, one of the most scenic drives in the area. Panorama is first and foremost a ski resort, with 4,000 feet of vertical terrain.

Radium Hot Springs

From Kootenay National Park, drive through Sinclair Canyon’s narrow gorge and enter the charming mountain community of Radium Hot Springs. The Village of Radium is a true resort, since attracting and keeping visitors is the village council’s mandate.

Canal Flats

The headwaters of the mighty Columbia River spring forth from the earth in Canal Flats, a small logging community at the southern end of Columbia Lake. Plans are in the works for an interpretive trail allowing visitors to see the source of this famous river.

The pretty hamlet of Edgewater lies just nine kilometres north of Radium Hot Springs. The village offers Pip’s Country Store, gas station, post office, and the Royal Canadian Legion. There is also a thriving arts community that makes use of the Edgewater Community Hall.The feature attraction of Edgewater is the wooden water flume, built in 1912 and still in operation. The community also has the old Edgewater United Church, still in use for special occasions. The Edgewater Elementary School offering Kindergarten to Grade 7 is located on a beautiful bluff overlooking the Columbia River.

In recent years Edgewater has become the area of choice for residents who are trying to escape the hustle-bustle of development in the rest of the valley. Although it is growing, the community has maintained its quiet country flavour.

There are two golf courses in the area: Edgewater Hilltop, and Spur Valley. North of Edgewater are Brisco and its neighbouring community Spillimacheen. Brisco and Spillimacheen run along a 25-kilometre stretch, nestled into the heart of the Columbia Valley about half-way between Radium Hot Springs and Golden.

Many residents consider this area to be the most beautiful part of the valley, with snow-covered mountain peaks on both sides and sweeping green pastures below. The total population of the three communities is about 790.

The economy is largely based on farming and ranching but the area is also home to a number of artists and studios.

There are two historic churches in the area. The Galena Church was built of logs in 1898. It is still used occasionally for weddings and funerals, and the cemetery is maintained by volunteers. The Brisco United Church was built in 1954 and is also still used by residents when required.

Brisco has its own community hall and also has a thriving Brisco Riding Club with a riding arena. On the far side of the Columbia River, the Bugaboo Glacier Provincial Park is accessible by road from both Brisco and Spillimacheen. The Bugaboos are famous around the world for outstanding hiking, climbing and heli-skiing opportunities. In 1972 the Alpine Club of Canada erected the Conrad Kain Hut, which has since been maintained by Parks Canada as a base for climbers. Canadian Mountain Holidays operate two lodges in the area.

Spillimacheen is the base for the Columbia Wetlands Society that’s dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of the wetlands. It’s also home to the seasonal Spilli Bean Cafe as well as some popular attractions including sport climbing on Spilli Rock and Beeland, the valley’s apiary specializing in alpine honey; located in the historic Spillimacheen Trading Post(est 1912).

Text and photo provided courtesy of the Columbia Valley Pioneer. Maps provided courtesy of and copyright the Columbia Valley Map Book.

The name “Windermere” has become synonymous with the entire Columbia Valley, but in fact it refers to a tiny community on the eastern shore of Lake Windermere.
This area has long been a favourite destination for Albertans and other visitors from around the world. It is now primarily a community of second homes.Windermere boasts a long history. It was christened Windermere in 1883, along with its namesake Lake Windermere. The first hotel was built in 1888 and the first church arrived in 1899. St. Peter’s Church is called “the Stolen Church” because Rufus Kimpton moved it via rail, wagon and riverboat from another community for his wife, Celina and reassembled it in 1900. The little white church with the red roof has been lovingly maintained and is still used for summer weddings.

The centre of Windermere is called the “Artist’s Corner” where several local artisans sell their wares.

Organized by the longstanding Windermere Historical Society, the Windermere Scarecrow Festival in September is a huge event with more than 1,000 people attending to see sheepdog trials, chainsaw carving, art and photography entries, baking and flower contests and much more, including a contest for the best scarecrow.

Text provided courtesy of the Columbia Valley Pioneer. Photo courtesy Gerry George.

The world’s largest outdoor mineral hot pool drew the first visitors to Fairmont Hot Springs more than 100 years ago, and they haven’t stopped since.At the heart of the community is the 140-room Fairmont Hot Springs Lodge, offering a full range of services including fine dining and spa treatments. Since the lodge was founded in the early 1900s, other types of accommodation have sprung up in the low-lying valley just south of Lake Windermere. Now the focus has shifted towards timeshare accommodation, with thousands of visitors spending part of their year here. There is also a choice of rental homes, mountain bungalows, motels, condominiums, camping or recreational vehicle parks.

Several award-winning golf courses are just steps away, including two 18-hole courses and two Par-3 courses.

This all-season resort also offers a ski hill about four kilometres away. With two lifts and a number of intermediate runs, the hill is a popular destination for families.
For the adventurous, there is guided horseback riding, mountain biking, white water rafting, all-terrain vehicle touring, snowmobiling and fishing.

Everything the tourist needs is available here: service station, esthetics studio, coffee shop, boutiques, liquor store, grocery store, video rentals and a couple of pubs with live entertainment.

Wind up your day on the golf course or the ski hill with a relaxing soak in the hot pools.

Text provided courtesy of the Columbia Valley Pioneer. Photo courtesy Gerry George.

Travellers driving between Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs might not realize that by taking a short detour off the highway, they will find one of the most beautiful towns in the world.

Invermere-on-the-Lake is a community of 3,500 permanent residents on the northern shore of Lake Windermere.

There are two public beach areas—Kinsmen Beach near the downtown, and the James Chabot Provincial Park at the north end of the lake.

The downtown centre—the entrance marked by a bronze statue of explorer David Thompson and his wife Charlotte Small—has a charming, flower-lined main street with shops, pubs and restaurants. Among many other businesses, there is a bakery and a delicatessen; two pharmacies, an artists’ co-op, bicycle shops, a health food store, three banks,a furniture store, two antique stores, three large grocery chain outlets, a pioneer village museum, and a historic movie theatre.

Tourism and real estate are the driving forces behind the building boom that is taking place in this lovely community as it continues to be “discovered” each year by thousands of newcomers.

There are five real estate agencies based in Invermere that can help you find your dream home.

The newly-renovated Pynelogs Cultural Centre at Kinsmen Beach hosts arts events throughout the year by the Columbia Valley Arts Council.

During the summer, many festivals and events take place. Wings Over the Rockies, a birding festival, is held each May. Every Saturday morning, there is a thriving Farmer’s Market downtown. Canada Day offers a parade, beachside events and fireworks. Valley Appreciation Day in July draws thousands of visitors. Loop-the-Lake in August continues to be a valley favourite as people run or walk 60 kilometres around the entire lake. There is also a triathlon, a wakeboard competition, a mountain bike race, a paragliding competition. December – March is the Winter-in-Motion Festival one of the highlights being the biggest outdoor bonspiel in the world is held on the surface of Lake Windermere along with the annual Snowflake Festival and Taste of the Valley in January.

The 30-minute drive from Invermere to Panorama winds along the edge of the rugged Toby Creek Canyon, one of the most scenic drives in the area.Panorama is first and foremost a ski resort, with 4,000 feet of vertical terrain. Panorama is a world-class resort with downhill skiing, snowboarding and cross-country trails. R. K. Heli-Ski operates from Panorama for those who wish to experience the truly untouched high terrain.

In the past ten years, amenities have been added to make this a four-season resort. Greywolf Golf Course is a spectacular 18-hole championship course open from May to October. Mountain biking, hiking, jeep tours, white water rafting, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, tennis and swimming are added attractions.

More people are purchasing property and building their dream getaways on the edge of the ski hill or the golf course. There are some gorgeous luxury homes at Panorama as well as hundreds of condominiums and hotel rooms for visitors.

Text provided courtesy of the Columbia Valley Pioneer.

From Kootenay National Park, drive through Sinclair Canyon’s narrow gorge and enter the charming mountain community of Radium Hot Springs.The Village of Radium is a true resort, since attracting and keeping visitors is the village council’s mandate. A full range of services is offered here with hotels and motels, restaurants, shops and world-class golf courses. A number of large real estate condominium projects are attracting second homeowners from around the world.

The area is justly famous for its hot springs within the boundaries of the national park. While soaking in the odourless mineral hot springs, you may spot a flock of mountain sheep grazing on the steep hillsides – a favourite subject for amateur photographers.

The community is striving to be “walkable,” meaning that you can park your car and walk everywhere. Make sure you drop in at the Visitor Information Centre operated by Parks Canada and the Radium Chamber of Commerce. It’s the building at the end of main street, marked by a bronze sculpture of Radium’s signature mountain sheep.

The headwaters of the mighty Columbia River spring forth from the earth in Canal Flats, a small logging community at the southern end of Columbia Lake. Plans are in the works for an interpretive trail allowing visitors to see the source of this famous river, which heads north towards Golden before turning south towards the Pacific Ocean.

The Village of Canal Flats, incorporated in 2004, has a population of about 800 and was traditionally supported by the Tembec Inc. sawmill. It has a grocery store, campground, an inn, gas stations, pub, restaurants, an elementary school and a community centre. It also boasts a the Headwaters Trail and has a great beach park with the only public access on Columbia Lake.

Canal Flats is a gateway to the back country, with several provincial and regional parks in the area. It has long been a stopping point for fishers, hunters and campers.

Recently this community on the shores of the breath-taking turquoise waters of Columbia Lake has seen increased real estate development. A condominium project is under way in the village, and land is being levelled on the east side of the lake for a new housing development.

Text provided courtesy of the Columbia Valley Pioneer. Photo courtesy Gerry George.