The Nelson and Kootenay Lake region is alive with history and heritage. Discover its past and why it continues to be a remarkably lively destination.
Self-Guided Heritage Tours
When you visit the Nelson and Kootenay Lake area, consider at least one heritage tour. Our community has lovingly restored heritage buildings, streetcars, the SS Moyie (the oldest sternwheeler in the world), and character homes to their original glory. The result is a collection of communities that offer a distinctive architectural beauty amidst our scenic surroundings.
Our Self-guided Tours brochure can be viewed online or grab your copy from the Nelson or Kaslo Visitor Centre or Gerick Cycle and Ski. You can also do a self-guided tour using our digital map.
With the Nelson, BC Heritage Walking Tour, you’ll stroll past buildings from the Victorian era and the Roaring Twenties and into a time when shopping local was just called “shopping”.
If you choose the Cemetery Tour, you’ll walk through a charming wooded area located just uphill from downtown. On Nelson’s Streetcar #23, you’ll ride along the waterfront and through Lakeside Park while you're entertained by stories of our past. Don’t forget to grab a coffee or snack for the ride at the Prestige Hotel, then have a local, organic lunch at the Rose Garden Cafe at Rotary Lakeside Park after your tour.
You can also walk your way through the beauty of the Ainsworth Hot Spring area with local photographers. Enjoy some magnificent scenery, visit some great view spots, and learn about the history and geology of the area.
Another way to discover our ever evolving heritage is the annual Haunted Heritage Tour each fall. Climb aboard Streetcar #23 for a journey through our storied (and ghostly) past. Do you believe in the paranormal? You might after you take the Haunted Heritage Tour!
With over 350 heritage buildings and sites, Nelson is known as the heritage capital of British Columbia. Wander the colourful downtown or step inside one of our many heritage sites to discover it for yourself.
- Experience Nelson’s stunning lakefront in the beautifully restored Streetcar #23 with a dedicated team of volunteers who bring history to life each summer and fall.
- The Nelson Museum, Archives & Gallery recreates our history in a gorgeous interactive exhibit that pays tribute to our past. Frequently changing exhibits showcase local artists who are contributing to our celebrated cultural heritage.
- The Chamber of Mines offers a taste of our mining history and some inspiration (did you know that you can still stake a claim and try your luck at gold panning in the region?).
- Our meticulously and lovingly restored downtown makes shopping a fun experience, devoid of large box stores and full of local curiosities and shops.
- In the 1930's there was a floating dance pavilion on Kootenay Lake. Greg Nesteroff, local historian, has captured the experience with words and historical images in his blog Kütne Reader.
The lakefront town of Kaslo offers an incredible combination of scenery and heritage.
- Step inside the lovingly restored SS Moyie in Kaslo for a tour of the oldest intact sternwheeler in the world.
- The Langham Cultural Centre is a hub of history and creativity not to be missed.
- Kaslo’s City Hall, a National Historic Site, is just one of many characterful downtown buildings.
- Head up the road towards New Denver and step back in time at the ghost town of Sandon.
Meadow Creek & Lardeau
The entire Lardeau Valley and Meadow Creek area is a place steeped in natural beauty and heritage.
- Take a drive past the north end of Kootenay Lake and along the Lardeau River and experience the area as it looked long ago.
- Lardeau Valley Museum will take you on a journey into times gone by. The museum highlights the history of the area and its mining, logging, agriculture and homesteading. In addition, a small collection of prehistoric artifacts from the early Aboriginal inhabitants of the region is displayed.
- John Mitchell has created an informative video about the Ghost Towns of Lardeau It's worth a watch if you're planning a road trip and want to take in the historic ghost towns in the area.
There is so much history in the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region. Local historian Greg Nesteroff writes a very intriguing blog capturing stories of the Kootenays. Take some time to explore our region and see for yourself why we’re known as the heritage capital of British Columbia.
Read our visitors guide online or order a copy of the official visitor's guide and map for our region.