North to the Kootenay Rockies: Revelstoke

Mileage Today: 179 Total Mileage: 5054

We set off from Nelson on a lovely sunny, blue sky day with little or no haze. As the day went on some clouds did form and we even had the odd sprinkle of short lived rain – the first we’ve seen since August 4th – but by and large, it remained fine. We are still in shorts and t shirts, albeit beginning to fish out the longer sleeved ones.

Our route was just gorgeous. We retraced our steps back to Balfour where we landed on the ferry yesterday, and then headed up the east coast of this part of the mountains, hugging Lake Kootenay as far as Kaslo. We stopped there for a coffee and a couple of naughty freshly baked jammy cookies. It is interesting in Canada. A strange mix of the UK heritage – a bit of Scottish gruffness, a bit of English initial reticence, a bit of cross border Americanism and a unique flavour of something uniquely Canadian. Kalso is a lovely little place, historic, great atmosphere. There is an antique sternwheeler anchored up that serves as a museum but it is under renovation at the moment.

We enjoyed our stop and then our route turned west across the mountains towards Slocan Lake. More lovely scenery, autumn beginning to peek through the trees and the undergrowth. We stopped at Sandon which is a near ghost town. What an interesting place! The town hall, fire hall and a tiny hydro electric plant are preserved. There’s a museum of course, a steam train and carriages and a whole fleet of old buses used to bring workers in. The silver mine seems to have been acquired by the Klondike Silver company and may be active.

We reached New Denver and turned north east along the lake and then inland to Nakusp and Arrow Lake. Breathtaking scenery along the way – I do recommend this route – and such a quiet road as usual.

Onwards north to Galena Bay and another ferry. This one was bigger and a more modern design. The crossing of upper Arrow Lake was just 20 minutes and fantastic mountains in every direction. We really have enjoyed the ferries so far. Especially as the two we’ve taken have been entirely free.

Once off the ferry, we had about 30 minutes run north to Revelstoke, our stop for the next few nights. Our GPS went a bit mad and sent us in entirely the wrong direction to our hotel but we soon sorted that out. It was really windy when we were unpacking the car. We can tell we’re a bit higher now

Revelstoke has a strong railway connection. In 1871, British Columbia agreed to join the Canadian Federation, based on the promise of a trans-continental railway to connect Western and Eastern Canada. The project proved to be extremely dangerous and expensive. In the summer of 1885, as the project was nearing completion, the banking firm Baring and Glyn saved the Canadian Pacific Railway from bankruptcy by buying the company’s bonds. Consequently, the community of Farwell was renamed by the CPR to honour Lord Revelstoke, the head of Baring and Glyn. The last spike in the railway were laid at Revelstoke, the first trans American railway to be completed. Well… in fact the last spike is in Craigellachie just to the east of Revelstoke.

Modern day Revelstoke is a centre for all things alpine. Winter sports and skiing in winter, hiking, rafting, mountain biking in the summer. It is on the edge of two national parks: Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park and a slightly longer drive to Yoho National Park. All of which we look forward to exploring over the next couple of days.

We settled into our room and spent the rest of the evening watching a complete recording of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral which occurred today in London. It was….. immaculate…. moving…. a once in a lifetime sight. We so wished we could have been there to see it in person. The weather looked perfect for the occasion and we felt proud to watch such a wonderful tribute, such an unforgettable spectacle to honour our Queen who has served us all so well and for so long.