Arts, Culture & Heritage

Nelson's First Mural Festival

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Nelson's First Mural Festival

By Emma Chart   |   Cover Photo @katiegreenart

The Nelson International Mural Festival has hit Nelson! 

If you’ve seen some hard-at-work muralists painting random nooks and crannies of Nelson and wondered why, it’s because this brand new festival is going on in Nelson all summer, with a culminating celebration on August 17-19! Yippy! 

The Nelson and District Arts Council (NDAC) is excited to present this fabulous event. Through the festival NDAC seeks to increase the cultural vibrancy of Nelson by engaging local, national, and international street artists, muralists, creators and arts lovers through large scale public artworks and educational opportunities. 

The festival has already been gaining traction in local media. Tourists and locals have commented on the new murals, saying what gorgeous and welcoming pieces of public art they are.

What is it?

Throughout the summer months, artists are invited to paint their specific mural for a few weeks until finished. As the murals are completed, a map has been made with locations and directions to each piece. Local and national muralists and even two international muralists were invited to come share their craft and beautify Nelson’s alleys. 

All supplies and equipment for muralists were provided by the festival. The walls used were both public and private. Muralists were chosen by quality of skills and techniques, and the ability to communicate a unique vision, overall professionalism and presentation of ideas, appropriateness of artwork to the community, experience, and potential to successfully complete the project within the required amount of time (this was usually around two to three weeks). 

Meet the Muralists and Murals!

The first mural completed is located behind Tandoori Indian Grill & Lounge. It was done by 24-year-old artist Andrew Tavukciyan from Vancouver, BC. Andrew is a graduate of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where he focused on industrial design. Using the windows and bricks of the building’s wall as a grid system, Andrew sketched out a design. His mural took around 10 days to complete. He describes his artwork as ‘organized chaos’.

The second mural completed was by Tyler Toews, and is located around the corner in the alley by the Outer Clove. Tyler is based in Nelson, but has done numerous murals across Canada. Many are influenced by his fascination with the outdoors and nature. This particular mural took about two and a half weeks to complete. His process included first fashioning a tiny 3D model of the ice to understand and render the shadows and angles more accurately. The mural depicts extinct and at-risk animals in glacier ice (also at risk), and touches on how the human race has an imposing nature on the natural world. 

The third mural to be finished was by Katie Green, and was painted on a concrete wall opposite the Nelson SPCA. This sprawling masterpiece took Katie around two weeks to finish. A University of Calgary art graduate, Katie had to paint many coats onto the concrete wall before she added the illustrations and final lines on top. On the theme of her whimsical and imaginative piece, she has said she wishes everyone who walks by to have their own take on it, and fill in their own interpretation and meaning of it for themselves. 

The fourth mural was created by Kelly Shpeley, a Nelson local, in the alley behind the Capitol Theatre. Kelly has had gallery showings in Canada, the United States, and Norway. John Cleese and Noam Chomsky are a few proud owners of her works. The mural took her two weeks to complete.

The fifth mural was by Barry Overn, and took 15 days to complete. Barry is an artist hailing from Calgary, AB. His mural contribution is located behind Downtown Automotive, and hints at Nelson’s heritage culture in its depiction of an old motor car in black and white. He also blends the modern and old with a present day bicyclist pedaling through the historical image. Barry has painted for such organizations as Disney, Universal Studios, Broadway, and Cirque Du Soleil. 

The sixth mural to be completed was by Stephanie Kellett, and was painted behind the Leaf Cross Society (can be seen by Outer Clove alley entrance). It took her about two weeks. The working title for the piece is  “Mountain Memories”. Stephanie says it speaks to the relationships between wolves, caribou, and the mountains, specifically saving the caribou. She described her experience of painting the mural as interesting as she had to learn how best to paint on corrugated metal, as well as drain pipes, and a steel door. 

The remaining two murals have not yet been/or are in the process of being completed. These murals will be made by:

The Colour Dreamers - Hailing from Miami, Florida, this is a mural artist duo by the names of Ivette Cabrera and Amir Shakir. Their mural piece will be located behind Hipperson’s Hardware.

Jerome Davenport - Arriving from Australia, this internationally renowned visual artist will have ten days to complete his mural contribution before the festival opens on August 18th and 19th. The mural will be behind Sea of Wolves in the Athen’s Centre

Join us for the Mural Festival!

Opening ceremonies and patio parties kick off on the evening of August 17th, followed by festivities throughout the downtown core on the 18th and 19th Pick up a mural map, stroll through town and take in all that these beautiful murals have to offer. 

On Saturday August 18th, the festivities will be located at Hall St. Plaza, and begin with info talks on how to apply to be part of next year’s mural fest, as well as artist talks by the local muralists who contributed this year. There will also be live theatre, and a street party and DJ from 7-10pm, an alleyway gallery, and Virtue Artisan Tea booth.

On Sunday August 19th, there will be more artist talks with muralists at the Civic Theatre as well as an artist panel discussion. The festivities will end with a closing wrap party at Red Light Ramen. 

There will also be a community wide ‘paint-by-numbers’ mural set up at Touchstones Museum for the public to contribute to ALL weekend! 

Come out and support the first annual Nelson International Mural Festival! It’s a wonderful initiative to support Nelson’s arts & culture and promote public engagement with public art. 

Share your mural pics on social media with #FindingAwesome and #NIMF

Culture Days is coming to Nelson

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Culture Days is coming to Nelson

If you’ve been hearing the words ‘Culture Days’, and wondering what it is, when it is, and what’s happening? Well, wait no more, this year, Nelson has been given the special distinction of Host City for the entire BC Culture Days celebrations! This launch event will happen September 19th and be a celebration of all that is culture in Nelson. And, on September 28, 29 and 30, the community events, that make-up the traditional ‘Culture Days’ will take place in Nelson once again. Here’s the details:

Culture Days… What is it?

Culture Days was created as a Canada-wide event in response to the growing recognition that a vibrant arts and cultural sector contributes directly to a healthy and stable society. In 2007, inspired by the success and impact of Quebec’s “Journée’s de la culture” weekend, leaders of Canada’s largest arts organizations came together to create a national event modeled after this one, celebrating our culture, and promoting the same core beliefs. The beliefs that Culture Days continues to stand by, are these:

  1. To thrive on generosity, solidarity and collaboration;
  2. To value the cultural life of urban and rural communities alike;
  3. To encourage the use of shared resources, and;
  4. To be produced with a unifying spirit, bringing together the best energies in the country

Now occurring for the 9th year, Culture Days has been a huge success, uniting communities across Canada for three days in late September every year. Rural and urban communities coordinate their local businesses, craftspeople, artists, creators, designers, and architects to share their own passions by creating open-house events the weekend of, and inviting the public to participate in everything that makes up their local culture through free hands-on activities and events.

What is Nelson’s Role?

Nelson has been named the Host City for British Columbia

This year Nelson has been named the Host City for BC. What does that mean? Nelson’s involvement will be even bigger and more fantastic this year. Nelson is the smallest city ever in BC to have been selected as a Host City. As a Host City, Nelson will receive additional marketing opportunities for businesses who want to host events, as well as more funding to organize the festivities. Additionally, there will be a Host City Launch party to celebrate the Opening of Culture Days in Nelson on September 19th, 2018. It is a huge accomplishment and honour for our small town to have been recognized provincially and chosen to be the Host City for British Columbia. Nelson was asked to host the annual kickoff by the BC Culture Days Steering Committee, a committee of arts and cultural leaders from across the province working together to help promote Culture Days movement by increasing accessibility, awareness, and public engagement around arts and culture.

Last year we were able to have 37 businesses/professionals involved in hosting events and activities. This year, we are hoping to surpass that and get over 50!

What Sort of Activities are Going On?

Last year, Nelson had a wide range of free activities and hubs, businesses, artists and professionals that participated. Here are a few activities that the public enjoyed in the past…

  • Reo’s Videos held their First Annual Geek Swap, a comic book swap for all ages. 
  • Baker Street Blues held a free outdoor Blues concert
  • Torchlight Brewing had free tours of their brewery!
  • The Civic Theatre had a backstage tour of the theatre
  • Mike’s Place Pub held a ‘Plaid & Poutine’ night with music by the Rob Funk Trio with free cover!
  • Discover Circus held an Aerial Silks Circus demonstration!

This year we are hoping to get a wider and even more diverse range of activities and events happening!

So… When? Where?

Now here’s the important stuff. The Launch party for Culture Days will be a free, open to the public event, scheduled for Wednesday, September 19th at 4pm. The festivities will involve a parade of activities, beginning at Hall Street, down to Vernon Street and ending the party at City Hall. There will be live music, emcee’s, dance demonstrations, food vendors and more, all celebrating the start of Culture Days. There will be two emcee’s hosting in different locations: Liesl Forst, and Jenna Skidmore. Oxygen Orkestar and Moving Mosaic Samba Band will also be in attendance.

The actual three day event will be the 28th, 29th and 30th of September, when businesses/professionals will host events and open houses.

How to Get Involved

Do you have a passion or interest you would like to share? Or is your business putting on an event that would already fit under the Culture Days umbrella? Then register your event at under the ‘register an activity’ tab and have your event be part of Nelson’s Culture Days! You can register your event up until September 14th, and edit it until the day before, September 27th!

Additionally, if you don’t have any activities in mind, but have a great space, register as a Hub! A Hub is a space where artists and professionals who do have passions/activities to share, can then come together and use the space to showcase their own event. It can be anything from space in your own business, or a hall, or theatre! Anywhere that your fellow cultural collaborators and creators could use the space efficiently to share their own activities. The public can then come to your Hub, and experience the wide range of activities offered by activity organizers.

What Makes Culture Days So Special?

Everyone has something to gain by being involved in Culture Days. Here are some ways in which you will benefit from participating!

  • Highlight the importance of arts and culture in your community. Anyone involved in Culture Days will experience the vibrancy of local arts and culture and how it encourages everyone to discover something new and reconnect with their own creativity and community.
  • Make meaningful connections. Many Culture Days activity organizers end up sharing space or collaborating with other organizers. This is a great way to branch out and meet other creatives, share resources and build connections.
  • Raise your profile. Culture Days is a great wait to expand your email list, and get your clients/new members/audience growing!
  • Unite to make arts and culture the topic of conversation. Culture Days is the largest public participation campaign undertaken by the arts and cultural community in this country. Last year, creative people and organizations in 789 communities registered 6,255 activities.  

Celebrate with Us!

Help us make this the best Culture Days in Nelson yet! Visit for more information regarding hosting an event, printing posters, activity ideas, registering an event, or any more info on Culture Days!

Culture Days has something for everyone. We can’t wait to celebrate the diversity of Nelson’s Culture with you! Come out on September 19th and join in the celebrations!
Follow us on Instagram: @nelsonculturedays
Like us on Facebook: Nelson Culture Days


Arts & Culture Shine Bright this Summer

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Arts & Culture Shine Bright this Summer

By John Bowden

Ever wonder where Nelson gets its reputation for being an arts and culture mecca? Live music, galleries, museums, boutique shops, heritage buildings, sculptures, outdoor markets, and a new mural festival are just some of the reasons. And summertime is when it all shines the brightest.

Nelson’s iconic ArtWalk celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2018. More than a dozen venues around the downtown core are showcasing nearly 40 artists from June 29 through September 7. And because everyone loves a good gala, the festival has three of them, including on July 27 as part of MarketFest, and a closing fête on September 7. Kaslo is also part of the action with their own ArtWalk until October 6. Check out the downtown businesses for a colourful collection of creativity.

Summer also means live music and outdoor festivals. Although the iconic Shambhala music festival is sold out, you can still get a taste of the big beats at Bloom Nightclub in the brand new Savoy Hotel. Further up the lake, the popular Kaslo Jazz Etc. music festival runs from August 3-5. Boasting a floating stage overlooking the Purcell mountains, this year’s lineup includes the indefatigable Mavis Staples, up and comer Shakey Graves, Polaris Prize winner Buffy Saint Marie, and many more.

Outdoor markets are another great way to experience the local flavour in the Kootenays. Nelson’s downtown market takes over Hall Street every Wednesday and brings Cottonwood Falls Park to life on Saturdays. Kaslo features a lovely market on Saturday mornings beside the Kaslo Hotel, while the Lardeau Creek Sunday Market a little further north is a laid back affair with some tasty locally grown delights. All of the markets feature local artisans and an abundance of fresh produce.

Long sunny days are ideal for wandering the historic downtowns in Nelson and Kaslo. Dozens of heritage buildings complement a cornucopia of brightly coloured trees and gardens. This blend of natural and cultural heritage is a defining trait of the region, and embodied in local hangouts like Oso Negro, Bluebelle Bistro, and the Rose Garden Café.

Nelson’s artistic side is also on full display with a series of outdoor sculptures. A blend of permanent and temporary pieces can be found throughout downtown. This year also marks the first ever Nelson International Mural Festival from August 17-19. Back alleys and side streets will be bursting with colour and creativity. Insider tip; lots of installations are already up, so you can check out the goods now, and follow and share through their Instagram.

Another 30th anniversary is being celebrated over at the Capitol Theatre in the form of Nelson’s Annual Summer Youth Production. This year sees the retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame on July 26, 27 and 28. More performances are on tap for late September onwards, including Jesse Cook and Jasper Wood. The Nelson Civic Theatre always has movies on the big screen, with a rockin' sound system, popcorn, and well appreciated air conditioning!

Add in cozy and comfortable accommodation, charming restaurants and cafes, unique independent shops, and bustling heritage downtowns, it all makes the Nelson and Kootenay Lake area a must visit cultural destination all summer long.

B.C.’s Top Literary Towns

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B.C.’s Top Literary Towns

Straight out of a storybook.

This article has was published by Montecristo Magazine
Story:    |   Illustration: Janice Wu

Audrey Thomas captured an entire era when she penned her 1984 classic, Intertidal Life. The novel painted an indelible portrait of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands in the 1970s—populated by eccentrics, rebels, and hippies—but it also illustrated what it was like to be a writer in the remote reaches of the province. Its isolation and wind-swept, wild landscapes have attracted many an author, and that continues today, with thriving literary communities that welcome readers and writers alike.

The rugged island outpost of Galiano is chief among these arts-minded enclaves. The village of just over 1,000 people has a rich literary history, counting both Thomas and the late Jane Rule as notable residents. Now a new generation has decamped to the island, including rising star Michael Christie, author of the Giller-longlisted If I Fall, If I Die, who, until recently, lived here full-time.

The community is also home to legions of bookworms. Enough, in fact, to support a library; a gem of an independent bookseller, Galiano Island Books (recently praised as an “excellent bookshop” by The Guardian); and a well-attended festival that attracts blockbuster authors like Heather O’Neill.

Guests of the annual Galiano Literary Festival, held at the oceanfront Galiano Inn, can book in for a restive retreat, wandering the lush gardens or hitting the spa for an out-of-this-world massage, eucalyptus steam, or float therapy session. Outdoor enthusiasts can get their Thoreau fix by hiking nearby Mount Galiano, or else paddling the coast with Galiano Kayaks, communing with seals and starfish. Later, return to the picturesque inn to soak up all the inspiring author talks on offer.

Lee Trentadue, bookstore owner and festival organizer, explains why the island tends to attract literary types. “It’s not as well-developed as places like Salt Spring, so it’s quieter, and contemplative,” she says. “Once you get a core of authors and artists on an island, they start pulling in others who want that experience, and know that there is a group of fellow writers that they can associate with and draw support from.” The wilderness is a big factor, too, she says, pointing to the swaths of land that remain near-pristine, protected by the island’s Conservancy Association.

Another B.C. literary stronghold worth a visit is the mountain town of Nelson in the Kootenays. There are so many published authors in this hamlet of 10,000 that its resident bookshop, Otter Books, has dedicated an entire section to local titles. Authors on offer range from newcomers like Roz Nay to veterans like Deryn Collier, Anne DeGrace, and the town’s cultural ambassador Eileen Delehanty Pearkes.

Over lunch at a popular haunt, The Library Lounge at the Hume Hotel, the latter three authors describe the scene in Nelson, which has roots that stretch back to a Jesuit university founded here in the 20th century. “The literary life in Nelson is totally embedded in the community,” Delahanty Pearkes says. “We take pride in ourselves.” There are weekly events, from book launches to readings, and writers regularly turn out to lend each other support.

“That’s a big inspiration,” agrees DeGrace. “For me, knowing that I am in a community of writers—that I have a cohort, and I can imagine them all squirrelled away in their little nooks, tap-tap-tapping away—that gives me courage to do it myself.” The scene is so vibrant, in fact, that the rest of the country is taking notice. The Toronto Star has named Nelson’s annual Elephant Mountain Literary Festival one of the best in the country. And with good reason, as it combines small-town charm with some of the best headliners CanLit has to offer.

Festival-goers can hole up with a good book at the exquisite treetop oasis The Cloudside Hotel, or camp out with laptops in airy cafes like Oso Negro (which, incidentally, grinds up some of the best beans in B.C.). Those wanting to stretch their legs have plentiful options as well, with hike routes like Pulpit Rock close at hand.

Meanwhile, book-lovers will find a similar vibe on the scenic Sunshine Coast. Here, too, many are leading a writer’s life—from newbies like Kara Stanley (Fallen: A Trauma, A Marriage and the Transformative Power of Music) to blockbuster author Naomi Klein, of No Logo fame, who’s lived here on and off for the past decade.

Nightwood Editions publisher Silas White, who grew up in the Sunshine Coast’s Pender Harbour and is now based in Gibsons, says being so far from Toronto’s cocktail party circuit is an advantage for independent houses like his, allowing time to focus on building relationships with authors.

And the region certainly doesn’t suffer a lack of enthusiasm for the written word. Sechelt’s Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2017, is legendary for its packed audiences, regardless of the time of day or night. Producer Jane Davidson says the festival has become so popular that the Sunshine Coast Regional District offers a five-week festival preview course, zeroing in on books by local and visiting authors. “It’s amazing,” she says. “It’s an incredible promotion, not just for the festival, but for the authors. They come in to the festival, and they already have in their audience 50 people who have already read their books.”

Writers and readers alike love attending this lively gathering, and it is little wonder why. Attendees can stay at the beachfront Bonnie Brook Inn, enjoy forest walks in Cliff Gilker park, stop for smoothies and salads at Gourmet Girl, and wrap up the day in Gibsons Landing, with mouth-watering tacos at lively Lunita’s on the wharf. Best yet, though, they can browse the curated collection at Talewind Books in Sechelt and pick up a few festival titles. That’s where this writer discovered Pat Carney’s delightful On Island, yet another testament to the rich literary life in B.C.’s tiny towns.

This article has was published by Montecristo Magazine

Streetcar #23

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Streetcar #23

The Nelson Streetcar is a lovely way to spend a late afternoon after a fun filled day at Lakeside Rotary Park. The streetcar travels from the Rose Garden Cafe in Lakeside Park, past the soccer fields located at the shores of the lake, and all the way to the Prestige Lakeside Resort


I had the great opportunity to speak with Walter Laurie, President of the Nelson Electric Tramway Society, about the history of the electric tram in Nelson. 

Walter Laurie, President of the Nelson Electric Tramway Society standing proudly in front of the car barn  Walter Laurie, President of the Nelson Electric Tramway Society standing with one of the streetcars

The city of Nelson was founded on the mining of rich mineral deposits, hidden in the mountains around the late 19th century. One of the most notable substances mined was silver which gave way to the Silver King Mine. This attracted many English investors who saw Nelson and the surrounding area as a prime opportunity to grow a strong city in the otherwise wild mountain terrain. An Englishman, who was known as Captain Duncan, had made himself a fortune off the Nelson mining industry. It was Captain Duncan who first proposed the idea of installing an electric tram to connect the community. In 1898 the first streetcar was installed at the top of Stanley St., a street that is known to be more than a little steep. As one can imagine, the late 1800’s version of Stanley St. was freshly cleared land and consisted of loosely packed dirt, making the streetcar ride a little adventurous. By the time the streetcar system was completely installed Nelson was the second community west of Winnipeg that had a streetcar system. The first community to do so was Vancouver who beat Nelson by only one year.

A historic photo of contruction of the streetcar track

The streetcar fleet had two cars that were commissioned from a British tramway company, and adopted a third from Columbus, Ohio in the 1920’s. Although the fleet only consisted of three cars they were numbered car #21, car #22, and #23, “it just sounds a little better,” Laurie says with a chuckle. 

The streetcars were beloved by the community and there are many pictures to indicate that that was true. Below is a photograph of young Nelsonites travelling to the community dance hall that was the top floor of the old boathouse. You’ll notice that back then the streetcars were open-air, with no siding or walls. Streetcar 23, which is in operation today at Lakeside Park, was modified to be enclosed to meet today’s safety standards. 

Young Nelsonites one the old streetcar travelling to the community dance hall that was on top of the old boathouse.

The push for diesel fueled buses surfaced post-war in 1949. With the expansion of paved roads, tire on pavement began to make more sense than local rails. However, the community was not fast to let go of the streetcars as they were a facet for life in Nelson during the early half of the 20th century. 

Once the bus system was fully in place, the original British commissioned streetcars were cancelled and Streetcar #23 was sold to a local veterinarian to be used as a makeshift dog kennel. The streetcar association was revived with help of Pierre Berton, who was tasked by the Canadian government to travel the length of Canada and revive communities historical features. 

Streecar #23

Streetcar #23 was refurbished and now serves it’s route that travels along the perimeter of Rotary Lakeside Park and ends at the Prestige Lakeside Resort. Take in the vibrant history of the Nelson Streetcar at the Nelson Electric Streetcar Society’s charming museum that is located to the left of the car barn that houses #23 when not in use. 

Captain driving the Streetcar #23

Find out more about Streetcar #23 here.  If you're wondering what else to do in the area visit our websiteinteractive map and digital calendar.

#findingawesome  |

Historical Hotspot: Lardeau Valley Historical Centre

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Historical Hotspot: Lardeau Valley Historical Centre

Step back in time and visit the incredibly well preserved Lardeau Valley Historical Centre, about a forty minute scenic drive north of Kaslo. It showcases an extensive collection of artifacts including perfectly preserved hand farming equipment, turn of the century home goods, First Nations artifacts, and historical photos of the area and its people. 

Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism was happy to help with the evolution of the Lardeau Valley Historical Centre by helping fund the relocation of the Centre’s sign and the addition of the “Tourist Station’ which will provide tourist info outside of the Centre’s visiting hours. 


The Lardeau Valley is historical land to numerous First Nations tribes including the Ktunaxa, Qatmuknek, Sinixt, and Secwepemc dating back 12,000 years. A collection of artifacts, such as arrowheads and spearheads, can be found at the Centre. The collection was donated by a fellow who worked the railroad line from Grand Forks to Crowsnest Pass and collected small artifacts found along the rail line. In talking with local archaeologist Wayne Choquette about the collection, he said, “it’s a big amazing collection.” 

Although the collection is extensive, Choquette brings up the point that the artifacts are not only from Lardeau Valley but from up and down the Kootenay region with no record of exactly where these artifacts are from. It is a rather large issue for archaeologists like Choquette whose work hinges on the locations of these finds. “Still though, an amazing collection,” says Choquette. 

The Lardeau/Meadow Creek area, like most settled towns in the Kootenays, has its roots in mining during the late 1800s. After the rush of panning for gold and other minerals ended, the region quickly became cultivated with crops and orchards. Samples of equipment used to mill and care for the land, such as an oxen yoke, are on display at the Centre. The non-motorized farming artifacts exemplify the amount of grit and sweat that it took to make a living in these mountains only 80 years ago. 

In talking with locals, it seems that it wasn't all work and no play. Roy Lake, a born and raised local of the area, told a story of another local named Hugh from back in the day who cleared many acres of land. "A tough job," Lake explained. However, Hugh always got a kick out of packing the tree stumps with a hearty amount of dynamite. "You would see them just pop off stumps into the lake. There was always a little gleam in [Hugh's] eye."

Lake has seen the area transform over the decades that he has lived there. He remembers when his father bought their first motorized vehicle, a red truck they used to transport produce. Previously, he used a horse and carriage. When Lake's father was backing up the truck one day, it started to slip over a bank. Out of instinct, Lake's father pulled up on the wheels as if they were reins and shouted out "Whoa! Whoa!" to horses that had been replaced by a motor. Lake chuckles, "Everyone was fine, and we got a story out of it." 

Although the region is small in population, Lardeau Valley is rich with colourful history and wonderful locals. Experience it for yourself at the Lardeau Valley Historical Centre. 

Extraordinaire Ebike Tour in Nelson BC

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Extraordinaire Ebike Tour in Nelson BC

Cemetery TrailBy Chad Hanson

You miss something when you view things through a car window. You don’t realize it until you're on a bike or in a convertible, then everything becomes a different experience. That's why my good friend Anna and I decided we would rent electric bikes in Nelson, BC to see the town, and holy smokes was that fun!

We're both fairly active but the idea of sweating all day to see the sights seems unappealing for vacation. Ebikes are simply the best way to get around that I've experienced in a long time. It's like cheating without the guilt. When that little boost kicks in everyone has the same reaction, like the joy you experienced as a child on a bike for the first time. You can’t not smile.

We started at Gerick Cycle and Ski on Baker Street to rent the Ebikes, after we grabbed our Self Guided Tour Maps from the Nelson Visitor Centre, in the old railway building that recently opened after a massive renovation. The Map is also provided in a digital form so you can see locations along the way and easily navigate your journey. Fun!

The cemetery might seem like an odd start to a bike tour; normally one would think it would be the end (rim shot). It’s at the very top of town and provides some amazing views and a peaceful setting. From there we bumped over to the top of Ward Street and got up onto the Rails to Trails path. The name says it all, this old railway route has been renovated and now incorporates some of the best views in town and beautiful foot bridges. You can follow it all the way down to the lake and Troup beach if you have time. We dropped back in around the Fairview district in town and rode down to the beautiful Rotary Lakeside Park.

Prestige Lakeside ResortThis stunning park and beach by the iconic Big Orange Bridge (locally referred to as BOB) welcomed us along with an ice cream from Rose Garden Restaurant located in the park. Kids were playing in the park along with families and couples and singles spending time on the massive lawn. Yes, it's really that storybook.

We hopped back on the bikes and headed down the lake and came across the Electric Streetcar, a beauty of a machine that has been running since 1924. We chatted with the driver Ray, a lovely fellow, and made a plan to return and experience the lakefront from that historic perspective. 

Touchstones MuseumˆWe shot up the lake towards The Prestige Lakeside Resort before heading back uptown to Touchstones, Nelson's museum of art and history. We grabbed a couple locally made gifts for friends and family, and checked out an exhibit from the inspiring Jack Shadbolt.

We had one last stop after that. Mike's Place Pub in the historic Hume Hotel and Spa for a tasty pint while we went over just how much we saw in the course of a day. Looking at the map and online it feels like we just scratched the surface. The sights and the people we met are memories we’ll carry for a very long time. It's crazy what a little boost from an electric bike will do for ya. 


Bringing Art to Life

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Bringing Art to Life

By John Bowden

Why does Nelson have a reputation for being Canada’s most celebrated small arts and culture town? It might have something to do with the impressive variety of public art that fills the downtown core.

It’s one thing for a city to have a selection of sculptures, but it’s another to refresh the collection on an annual basis. That’s just the case in Nelson, where a number of pieces have been installed just in time for summer.

Joy Barrett, Cultural Development Officer for the City of Nelson, oversees the artwork. “We started a partnership with Castlegar Sculpturewalk about 6 years ago, leasing a number of pieces from them each year. This allows us to support local artists and beautify our city within our budget. We feel that it helps reflect our vibrant artistic community." 

Sculpture Walk (image below) is an interactive cedar tunnel with a kaleidoscope-esque feel. The walls actually rotate 90 degrees and create a playful mix of light and shadow as you stroll through. The unmistakable scent of the woody cedar complements the hand built installation by local artists from the north end of Kootenay Lake, Argenta: Spring Shine, Christopher Petersen and Hans Winter.

Flower Power’s harmony of art and gardening is a fitting addition to Nelson. Victoria artist Illarion Gallant’s piece offers a rich texture of colours that invites viewers to consider the urban and natural environment. Located at the main entrance for town, it’s a fitting nod to Nelson’s past and present affection for community gardens.

It’s hard not to notice Kevin Kratz’s otherworldly White Sturgeon as you walk along Baker Street. Kratz, an instructor at Kootenay Studio Arts, created his interpretation of the prehistoric lake monster without detailed drawings or models. The result is a fantastical representation of the ancient fish that continues to survive against the odds in Kootenay Lake despite human encroachment.

Kate Tupper’s dazzling All Strings Attached is another fine example of the Kootenay’s reputation for artistry. Based in Nakusp, her work is distinctly feminine, with evocative heart-shaped forms and intricately woven threads giving the sculpture elegance and grace. It’s also playfully interactive, reflecting light when spun by hand.

Like a frozen statue, John McKinnon’s Wind Suite #1 is an arresting sculpture on Baker Street. The marble seems to fold over itself, curling and swirling upwards in a dance of openness and invitation. It feels alive and rooted at the same time. Based just outside of Nelson, a number of McKinnon’s other works can be found in town.

Although the aforementioned pieces are all easy to find, the committee threw a curveball with Del Pettigrew’s Red Raider. Located near the bay at Lakeside park, the bronze stalking red fox is hidden in the grasses and purposefully pitted and rough to signify the harshness of life in the wild. Can you find it? Pettigrew’s fox seems to sniff the area, poised to pounce on a moment’s notice. Hopefully the nearby ducks don’t think the fox is aiming for them! Red Raider is a permanent piece donated to the City of Nelson by Dr. Ken Muth.

This year's pieces are a nice addition to the variety of permanent installations around town. From bridges to railings, bike racks to benches, Nelson is incorporating artistic inspiration into form and function. Discover the full spectrum of this cultural capital on your next visit to Kootenay Lake. 

There are also over 23 pieces of permanent public art mapped out for you on the regions Digital Map. Do a self-guided tour around Nelson or Kaslo and discover more of our cultural strengths.

150 Reasons to Visit Nelson & Kootenay Lake

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150 Reasons to Visit Nelson & Kootenay Lake

By John Bowden

What if your birthday lasted an entire year? In Nelson and Kootenay Lake, we’re celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary with 150 suggestions to help you experience our region all year long.

Long before Canada was established in 1867, First Nations people had been residing in the Nelson area for over 5000 years. Living closely with the land, they were the first to discover the healing waters at Ainsworth Hot Springs. A visit to Touchstones Nelson is a great way to learn about this early history and how early peoples shaped the landscape.

After Confederation, early European settlers headed west, lured to Nelson by its scenic location and promises of fertile farming. Locally grown food continues to be a keystone of our identity, reflected in our popular markets and culinary creations at independently owned restaurants. The burgeoning craft beer scene in Nelson is the latest example of local flavours. Taste it for yourself on a tour of our four breweries.

Nelson’s mountain and lake scenery is often a major pull for visitors today, but it was mining on nearby Toad Mountain that brought people here in the late 1800s. As prospectors pored into town, Nelson became a major hub in the region, and was incorporated as a city in 1897.

An early bylaw required new buildings to be of stone or brick so as to avoid fires that had consumed so many other downtowns built of wood. This foresight led to a rich collection of heritage buildings that visitors enjoy today. Pick up a self-guided brochure or check out our online digital map to learn more about the hundreds of architectural gems in Nelson. And don’t miss a ride on our historic Streetcar #23!

Like Nelson, Kaslo also boasts a charming downtown with colourful buildings. The Langham Museum is one such site, and also tells the difficult story of Japanese internment during the Second World War. The two National Historic Sites (the SS Moyie Sternwheeler and Kaslo City Hall) are another legacy of the past, and provide visitors with plenty of reasons to visit the small town affectionately known as “little Switzerland”. 

Meanwhile, as Nelson grew, so too did cultural offerings and sporting interests. That heritage is alive and well today. Check out a festival, meet local artisans, visit a craft fair, or take in a live performance at the Capitol Theatre. For outdoor enthusiasts, consider a hike up Jumbo Pass, go for a trail run, mountain bike one of our trails, do yoga on the beach, raft one of our local rivers, or road cycle on our quiet roads. The options are endless!

Our close proximity to the American border meant that early holiday celebrations stretched from July 1st to 4th. The Nelson and Kootenay Lake area continued to be a magnet for those stateside during the Vietnam War. Draft dodgers famously flocked north, and their entrepreneurial abilities and counter-culture views played a prominent role in shaping the region. That energy is reflected in our live music scene, boutique shops, and wide range of local artisans.

Nelson and Kootenay Lake has diversified from its roots it mining and forestry to become a popular destination to live, work, play and visit.  Stay at the historic Hume Hotel, pitch a tent at Woodbury Resort, or relax at the iconic Kaslo Hotel, and enjoy a meal on a patio or sip a delightful cocktail.

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. Our list of 150 trip ideas will give you plenty of reasons to visit all year long and discover our rich heritage that is waiting for you!

150 Trip Ideas

Spring into Culture

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Spring into Culture

By John Bowden

We’ve all heard that April showers bring May flowers. So while Mother Nature does her rainy thing, it’s the ideal time to head indoors and explore Nelson and Kootenay Lake’s celebrated cultural reputation.

Touchstones Museum building framed by spring blossoms.Touchstones Nelson has a pair of attention grabbing exhibitions running until late May. “Edge of the Light” is a cabinet of curiosities like collection from local artist Tanya Pixie Johnson. Re-imagining humans and other species through figures, paintings and other oddities, it’s a trippy Tim Burton-esque experience not to be missed. 

In comparison, the exhibition “Geo. A. Meeres, Nelson, BC” is a more traditional gallery experience. Featuring a stunning selection of black and white photos, watercolours and hand tinted photos, it offers a unique glimpse into the early 20th century past of Nelson and the surrounding area.

It’s just a hop skip and a jump over to Oxygen Art Centre in downtown Nelson. There are all sorts of workshops lined up for the spring, including Intuitive Painting, Drawing Courses and Folk Band Basics. 

Performers on the Capitol Theatre stage.A block up from historic Baker Street is Nelson’s prized Capitol Theatre. With its art deco accents, spacious seating, wonderful acoustics, and a selection of local beers and gourmet chocolates at intermission (!), it’s a cultural treasure. Upcoming shows include music by PIGS (Pink Floyd tribute band), Sultans of String, and Completely Creedance, the play Getting to Room Temperature, and dance spectacle Glory. Film screenings and other offerings are also featured on their website.

But, don't forget to attend a film at our beautiful, heritage, state-of-the-art community movie theatre - the Civic Theatre. Hot releases, art films, family shows and local film-makers fill the screen all year round. 

The Langham Cultural Centre in Kaslo, BCThe Langham Cultural Centre in Kaslo is another site worth visiting. In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, they are showcasing the History of the Earl Grey Pass Trail until the end of April. Using historic maps and photos, oral stories and a “Then and Now” video, it reveals the rich history of the hiking trail at the northeast end of Kootenay Lake.

And when the sun pokes out, a walk around downtown Nelson or Kaslo reveals a surprising array of sculptures, murals and other cultural creations worth checking out. Visit Nelson and Kootenay Lake Tourism’s recently launched online digital map to find all the key sites, while the online events calendar lists all the goings on in the area. 

No matter the weather, the spring is an ideal time to explore the lively culture of Nelson and Kootenay Lake.


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