Arts, Culture & Heritage

Knowledge Network History Shorts Competition Winner - Amy Bohigian

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Knowledge Network History Shorts Competition Winner - Amy Bohigian

Knowledge Network History Nelson, BCI hiked up Pulpit Rock a few weeks ago to get some perspective on how to approach the Knowledge Network’s History Shorts Competition. As I looked around from that vantage point, the idea for my pitch emerged. The isolated and mountainous geography of our region shapes our communities and us as individuals living here. What if I told the history of Nelson and the Kootenays from that perspective? I entitled my pitch If These Mountains Could Talk and began to assemble the stories that could best capture the character and essence of our colourful history here. They wanted a series of 10, two-minute videos using archival photos. We spent the first of two days Touchstones Nelson working with the Knowledge Network’s Director of Independent Production, Murray Battle, in a workshop format, getting feedback on our pitches and learning more about the potential of short historical videos. Rudy Buttingnol, President and CEO of Knowledge Network, joined us the second day to hear everyone’s final pitch and select the winner of the competition. I worked to find a personal angle to each story. Whether it was about prospecting and mining or sternwheelers, there were amazing photos to enhance the emotion in each unique story. I am grateful to my multi-talented team which includes Nicole Tremblay, a local researcher and archivist, Daryl Jolly, an instructor at the Selkirk Digital Arts program, and Ben Euerby, a local composer. I feel privileged and proud to be the filmmaker chosen to tell the stories of what makes Nelson and the Kootenays such a unique and special place. These stories will be ready for viewing about a year from now, when Knowledge Network plans on returning for the premiere of the series at our very own Civic Theatre in Nelson. Amy Bohigian – Watershed Productions, www.watershedproductions.ca

Another rad night at Nelson's Spiritbar!

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Another rad night at Nelson's Spiritbar!

Diamond Rings at Nelson's SpiritbarAfter being in town for over a month, we, Caroline & Julie two Dutch ski journalists have been to a bunch of party’s. The Spiritbar is still our favorite pick as it is even cooler than most clubs in Amsterdam! Last Thursday we saw the flamboyant and charismatic Diamond Rings rocking their stage. This new wave sensation is lead by O’Regan and they have even performed on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Diamond Rings sure knows how to put up a glamorous and eccentric performance, which seems to suit Nelson perfectly!

Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History

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Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History

Touchstones Museum of Art and HistoryFirst of all, let me introduce ourselves: we are Caroline & Julie, two ski journalist from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, who are crazy about skiing. During a short visit to Nelson, BC last year we instantly felt at home in a place where the soul of skiing is disembodied. So this winter we are back for more! To learn more about the history of the Queen City it is worth visiting the Touchstones Museum, which is located in one of the 350 historical buildings. Nelson actually has the most historical buildings per capita of BC. During our tour we found out that one of the reasons Nelson still has so many heritage house, comes from the fact that stonewalls were built between houses to prevent a potential fire from spreading. We especially liked finding out that Vernon Street was actually designed to be the main street, but due to high prices of the land, shops were opened on Baker Street instead. The museum gives a clear overview of the rich history of people living in the region and serves as the cultural touchstone for Nelson and the region. Last Friday a new show was opened at current art exhibition, where local artist are showcased. The gallery is the perfect place to get a quick taste of the vast amount of local talent this eclectic city has to offer. http://www.touchstonesnelson.ca/

Touchstones Museum

Tchaikovsky and ballet - like fine wine and stimulating conversation

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Tchaikovsky and ballet - like fine wine and stimulating conversation

Capitol Theatre BalletThe Capitol Theatre, along with the Nelson Overture Concert Series hosted Ballet Jorgen, one of Canada's premiere touring ballet groups on January 31, 2013, to perform the classic Swan Lake. From the first piroette and memorable theme carried by the peircing tone of the oboe, it was mezmerizing. There were gasps, laughs and tears. It was a full house with a standing ovation and the audience bellowing loud bravos at the end. To bad they couldn't have done an encore. It was a spectacular evening. The arts and culture we are exposed to in this region are phenomenal. What other cities of 10,000 or so get Sheri-D one weekend and Swan Lake the other? Thank you for valuing the arts, enjoying them, and for bringing these artists of all styles and genres to our communities.

There is definitely more than one place to walk your dog

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There is definitely more than one place to walk your dog

Nelson BC Dogs There was a misrepresented article about Nelson BC written in the National Post this past week that has some Nelsonites stepping up and speaking very loudly about their charming, safe, diverse, welcoming community. In response to the article, and from my experience as a resident, Nelson is a place where people let their kids walk to school, ride their bikes to the soccer pitch and generally feel safe and secure. People that live here and visit experience genuine warmth from the community and Nelson is second to none with people who lead and live a welcoming, healthy and active lifestyle. We have a spectacular  ski hill - Whitewater Ski Resort, cross country skiing out our back doors or the groomed trails, amazing mountain and road cycling, fishing, hiking; and one of the most thriving arts and culture environments anywhere for a town this size. The list of vibrant and unique things to do goes on and on. And I mustn’t forget to mention our diversity and acceptance of differences, and the color and energy it creates in our community! Yes, there is the odd disgruntled person unsatisfied with the less than perfect bylaws, but trust me I can take my dog more places than I can’t. In fact, there is only one, just one place of the thousands that my dog is currently prohibited. I can take my dog mountain biking along the rails to trails, I can go on a dog walk along our waterfront, and I can cruise the neighborhoods with my dogs, and many of these places are off-leash. There is an endless number of much more redeeming areas for my dogs than Baker Street. And though the bylaw is not perfect, and city council I hope revisits the bylaw very soon, its flaws do not outweigh the spectacular positives one can experience in Nelson as a visitor, resident or dog owner. The latest action I’ve seen supporting Nelson is ‘Keep Nelson Weird’ facebook page – love it! This phrase is not new to our ears, and other communities (e.g. Austin, Texas) are already supportive of this slogan. Perhaps Nelson will consider it for its slogan. What is the cities current slogan? I’ll leave you with this beautiful song to dance or sing along to, Michael Franti - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=580NWAdGaAo Come to Nelson with or without your dog and you will be truly blown away, as the vast majority of visitors will attest to for all of the redeeming qualities that genuinely make Nelson and Baker Street a top quality destination!

Weekend Recap: The Kootenay Literary Competition & The Whitewater Winter Carnival

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Weekend Recap: The Kootenay Literary Competition & The Whitewater Winter Carnival

It was a busy weekend in Nelson with the Kootenay Literary Competition, hosted at the Prestige Lakeside Resort, welcoming over 250 people to the event and recognizing the written word by entrants of all ages and locations within the Kootenays. Ten winners were chosen and the top five read a few lines from their award winning works. It is extra ordinary what we create in the Kootenays – congratulations writers, and congratulations Kootenay Literary organizers on a very entertaining and successful event. And most importantly, continue writing everyone! Imagine a world without written word? Imagine. Books are on sale at Otter Books in Nelson or through the KLC website for $6.95. Apex and Busk had groomed trails and sunshine – pretty much a perfect 10 for snow conditions for x-country or skateskiing. The new hut at Busk is welcoming, offering a cozy break from the workout or graceful slide across the well-prepared snow. A night ski at Apex will be fabulous too, but do bring a head lamp just in case you want to venture into Cottonwood or Busk. The moon is about half moon right now, but give it another 7-8 days and the white snow will glisten a golden evening yellow. 

Cross country ski trails Nelson, BC

The Whitewater Winter Carnival started with a great success on Saturday morning with visitors from all over. Two particularly unique visitors from Fernie and Sandpoint, shared their carnival energy and fairy wishes upon us. (Yes, the Snow Fairy skied in her attire.)

Whitewater Ski Resort

Gericks Cycle and Ski hosted the Summit Cup, a well attended, organized and dynamic 4-person Skier Cross competition. Winners were of all ages and all areas! Loved that first turn – if you made it past that you had a pretty good chance of finishing, pretty good. Congrats everyone for participating. The evening was full of more entertainment, snow sculptures, dining and a torch parade down the mountain.

Whitewater snow sculpture

What’s next week? Check our calendar to find out events in the Nelson Kootenay Lake area. http://www.nelsonkootenaylake.com/calendar/

When the Walls Talk...Nelson's Kerr's Apartments

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When the Walls Talk...Nelson's Kerr's Apartments

Kerr's Apartments By Patricia A. Rogers Style: Richardsonian Romanesque Constructed: 1910-1912 Although a picture may be “worth a thousand words’ it can sometimes make the imagination stutter. As a result it is difficult to imagine, when you view the photograph of the fire gutted building, that when Edward Kerr opened his doors the opulence was the ‘likes of which’ the City had never seen. Edward Kerr (left) and his family arrived in Nelson in 1898. It was not long before he gained employment and in 1902 purchased the Occidental Hotel. He soon became known as a good and fair man who would never turn away a hungry man. When Edward purchased the lots that now constitute 514 Victoria Street a great many of the Citizenry thought he had taken leave of his senses. The lots were not fully developed and were not much more than a large rocky outcrop. How they could possibly be developed caused many a chin to wag! Edward saw opportunity where others saw rocks. He knew the City was not in need of more hotels/saloons, there were already eighteen; sleeping rooms and boarding houses were abundant; and, business blocks were soaring skyward. He decided the City needed its first apartment building-self contained suites of the finest quality. To meet these ends Edward hired local Architect, Alexander Carrie. Just as today the use of local contractors and trades people was preferred and these were employed by Mr. Carrie. The stone work was supplied by E. Palmquist; woodwork by Waters and Pascoe; roofing and hardware by Wood Vallance Hardware; plastering by I. Benilson; plumbing and heating by B.C. Plumbing and Heating; electrical by J.H. Mathieson; and, the gas ranges and fittings by Nelson Coke and Gas Company. The most unusual aspect of the entire construction was that all the granite was quarried on the site. The building literally grew from the granite floor. As the rock was carved into walls the interior of the structure was being constructed one storey at a time. It was much akin to working within a granite shell. Halfway through construction Edward’s finances were depleted. He had no money to move forward, could not pay his debts and could not qualify for a loan due to these debts. This is when a most extraordinary thing happened. All the people on the project met and decided they would continue without payment. As well they would sign an Undertaking that they had been paid in full allowing Edward to apply for and receive a $25,000 building loan from Great West Life. This act of generosity allowed the Kerr’s Apartments to go on to completion. All the debts were discharged in full. Nelson was booming in 1912. The sounds of hammers and saws could be heard throughout the City core. Houses were being erected in the residential areas and the large stone edifices tried to touch the sky in the downtown core. There was no want for employment. The year saw the completion of the Strachan Block (131 Baker) at $7,500.00; the Annable, $30,000.00; the Reid (330 Baker), $22,000.00; the McCulloch (377 Baker), $24,000.00; Brackman Ker warehouse (Front), $16,000.00; the Taylor Milling and Elevator, $7,000.00; the A.S. Horswill, B.C. Plumbing and John Burns and sons warehouses at $1,000.00 each; and, the Presbyterian Church, $27,000.00. The Kerr’s Apartments were completed at a cost of $60,000.00. Considerable expense was saved quarrying the rock on site so one can only imagine the amount of money that was earmarked for the interior of the building! In mid March 1912 the apartment building opened its doors. The first tenant was Louis Kerr, the owner’s son, who had taken on the responsibility of building caretaker. According to Edward Kerr he could have filled “a building thrice the size.” Kerr’s Apartments consisted of thirty-seven suites. It was soon evident no expense had been spared as the marble steps led into a gleaming foyer of highly polished stone and wood. The apartments ranged in size from three to seven spacious, furnished rooms with plastered walls and steam heated radiators. The windows were tall, wide and deep leaving window wells for seats or knickknacks. The plumbing system was the most up to date with a bit of a twist. The boiler used for heating was separate from that used for domestic purposes. As a result the 800 gallon domestic boiler could fill every bath in the building at once and not drain the system. Hot water was never an issue. Each apartment had a three piece bath with 'nickeled' fittings. The newest safety features were affixed to the boilers. The building was the most fashionable in the district with the use of electric lights to enhance hallways, entrances and apartment living. The electric switchboard was kept under lock and key in the Caretaker’s quarters. She was wired for both private and public telephones. Each apartment had a fully appointed kitchen with ample cupboard and drawer space. The latest gas ranges enhanced the preparation of meals. The basement was not without its own amenities. This roomy structure boasted a storeroom for each suite as well as laundry facilities. Nothing was over looked. Outside the building is of the Richardsonian Romanesque style with a large arched entranceway, stone window lintels and rusticated stonework. The black marks in the stones are naturally occurring. Time had not been kind to this once stately structure. Over the years her façade presented a building that had faded both inside and out. Her paint had worn and her elegance transplanted with areas of disrepair and convenient quick fixes. Her once high rental rate was reduced to low cost housing. On January 5th fire gutted the interior displacing all her tenants. Her once proud and erect walls that so broadly welcomed the upper crust of Nelson society support a gaping hole with blackened and boarded windows. The future of Kerr’s Apartments is uncertain. However, thanks to the plans of Architect Carrie and the resources of the West Kootenay she still appears sound and may once again be filled with the sounds of family life. ***The building was razed on Sunday, June 26, 2011.*** The Kerr 1912 and Edward Kerr photographs are courtesy of the Shawn Lamb Archives, Touchstones Nelson http://www.touchstonesnelson.ca/ ; the Kerr today is courtesy of the author; Edward Kerr obituary, Nelson Daily News, 13 May 1922

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