» The Queen City
Brief History of Nelson and area.
Nelson, also known as the “Queen City”, is located in the Selkirk Mountain range on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Because of its impressive collection of restored heritage buildings from its glory days during the silver rush, Nelson is the most visually historical of the three cities which form the West Kootenay region. The West Kootenay region of British Columbia is part of the traditional territories of the Sinixt (or Lakes) and Ktunaxa (Kutenai) peoples. Hieroglyphs, arrowheads, and other remnance from these incredible first nations can still be found in the region today.
Gold and silver were found in the area in 1867. Following the discovery of silver in 1886, the town boomed and then became incorporation in 1897. Two railways were built to pass through Nelson. Due to its location near transportation corridors, Nelson grew to supply the local mining activity and soon became a transportation and distribution centre for the region.
Francis Rattenbury, an architect most noted for the Parliament Buildings in Victoria, and the Vancouver Provincial Courthouse, designed chateau-style civic buildings in Nelson made of granite, which stand today and are the heart of the city’s historic architecture. By the 1900s, Nelson boasted several fine hotels, a Hudson's Bay Company store and an electric streetcar system, and the local forestry and mining industries were well established.
The town built its own hydroelectric generating system. English immigrants planted lakeside orchards, and Doukhobors from Russia farmed the valley bench lands. Today the Doukhobor museum is located nearby, close to the neighbouring town of Castlegar.
For its geographic scale, the Central Kootenay region (in which Nelson is situated) currently has a high number of organic farms, market gardens, and home gardens. Many Nelson residents grow decorative or food gardens (or both). The town has several outlets for natural foods, including a year-round co-op market.
Due to the area’s natural beauty, historic charm, and multitude of outdoor activities, Nelson has become a desired location for new families and tourist alike. It It is now a cultural centre packed with good restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, local shops, small art galleries, the restored Capitol Theatre and impromptu theatre venues. In 1986 Steve Martin chose to produce his feature film 'Roxanne' in Nelson because of its beautiful setting and small town feel. This film paved the way for many other movie productions to seek out the geographic and historic charm of the area. This transformation marked the beginning of Nelson's ongoing transition from a resource-based town to an arts and tourism town.
Now tourist and locals enjoy the many activities that the lake and mountains of the area have to offer. From skiing or snowboarding, to hiking, camping, rock climbing, boating, carriage rides, or just relaxing in one of the many natural hot springs scattered throughout the area, Nelson really does have something for everyone.