Pilot Bay Lighthouse

Pilot Bay Lighthouse

Pilot Bay Road, Kootenay Bay, BC

Pilot Bay Lighthouse Trail is a 0.6 kilometre lightly out and back trail a short drive from the Kootenay Bay Ferry Terminal. The lighthouse offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for walking.

Pilot Bay Provincial Park is on the right as you depart the ferry. Follow the road about 3km to the parking area and trailhead. This trail is an out and back, and follows the stunning shoreline with lookouts, and walkways down into remote beaches where you can take a refreshing dip. This trail is impressive from beginning to end, and suitable for families. 

History

In the 1890s, sternwheelers plied the waters of Kootenay Lake, delivering prospectors and supplies to isolated mining camps and settlements along its shores and also linking the Crowsnest Railway’s Kootenay Landing, a terminal at the southern end of the lake, to one near Nelson. A remnant of this era can be visited in Kaslo, where the S.S. Moyie, the world’s oldest intact passenger sternwheeler, can be visited. The Moyie began service on the Nelson-Kootenay Landing Route on December 7, 1898 and filled this role until 1906, when the larger S.S. Kuskanook took over.

To guide the growing vessel traffic on Kootenay Lake, a lighthouse was built on Pilot Peninsula, situated on the east shore of the lake, opposite the entrance to the lake’s western arm. The main body of Kootenay Lake runs north-south, but a significant arm leads west from the center of the lake and feeds Kootenay River, which merges downstream with the mighty Columbia River. Pilot Bay is a small, protected harbor just east of Pilot Peninsula and was so named because pilots of vessels often used it as a place of refuge during storms.

The light at Pilot Bay was originally produced by an oil lamp and was maintained by keepers that lived nearby. O. McElroy served as the first keeper of the light, followed by Eugene Montreuil, who served through at least 1921.

In 2003, two years before the lighthouse’s centennial, The Traditional Timber Framing Company placed two windows back in the south face of the lighthouse, restoring the tower’s original appearance. The lighthouse’s shake shingle siding was replaced in 2005, and a safer railing was installed on the lantern room gallery.

Visitors to Pilot Bay Lighthouse today are treated to not only a well maintained lighthouse but spectacular views of all three arms of Kootenay Lake.

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