Arts and Culture
Along the Creston Valley and Kootenay Lake Route, brooms never looked so beautiful. Hanging from leather straps against an historic log barn just off the twisty road in Crawford Bay, the North Woven Broom is just one of the many unique and diverse artisans along the Route. Explore local pottery, handmade crates, and custom stonework—take your sweet time. Walk through the doors of Creston's historic red grain elevator and into a gallery filled with paintings and sculptures, or grab a fresh-brewed coffee to savour while running your hands along the spines of books at a local's bookstore favourite. If peculiarity's your style, look no further than the extraordinary Glass House in Boswell; made of 500,000 empty embalming fluid bottles. Don't forget about the goats on the grass roof in Yahk, each with a name, each part of the Yahk Soap & Candle Co. Just ten minutes north of Creston, in the small community of Wynndel, Val's Mellowood Gallery offers original art to small souvenirs or gifts. One thing's for certain—arts and culture is never dull along the Route.
Homemade is so much better. Artists along the Route carry with them a unique set of skills, a passion for their trade, a desire to remain authentic, honest and meticulous. Crawford Bay in particular is filled with artisans and their trades; visitors can watch as weavers combine cotton, wool, alpaca and bamboo to produce incredible towels, headbands, and other colourful accessories. They can walk through Dog Patch Pottery for local ceramics, pick up home accessories at Kootenay Forge, or grab a hand-woven broom from the little log cabin just off the road.
Further south, stop by the Kootenay Crate Company for a rustic, hand-crafted wood crates. Public art in the Creston Valley has grown particularly popular; look for the nine sculptures on display around town this summer. Wherever you find yourself along the Route, you'll find incredible, unique art.
There are museums and galleries aplenty in the Creston Valley and Kootenay Lake Route. In Creston, the Kunze Gallery at the red grain elevator, the Creston Museum, and the Art Barn Studio give rise to artists and art-lovers. Fireworks Copper & Glass Jewelry in Crawford bay pump more culture into and along the Route. Find local art on the walls of coffee shops, like the Black Bear Books & Coffee House, or grab a fresh coffee with the locals at Kingfisher Used Books.
The Legend Logos & Yaqan Nukiy Heritage Centre is culture in and of itself—local First Nations showcase their beautiful garments and Native artwork, and historical photographs from the early 1900s are on display for a shared experience. Learn about the people who have called the Route home for thousands of years, find a special gift, leave connected.
The road along the Route meanders much the way a river does. Beneath trees swaying above waters of the Kootenay move in unison, its flow connecting north to south, east to west. Connecting Crawford Bay to Creston, Creston to Yahk. The Creston Valley and Kootenay Lake Route is more than just a gateway to another place—there's a connection here that's unparalleled.
The valley between the Purcells and Selkirks is a flood plain to the Kootenay River, flowing from all other areas of British Columbia, and even from parts of Alberta. Traditional territory of the Yaqan Nukiy people of the Ktunaxa First Nations lived off the land; fishing, trapping, hunting, through the marshes and into the woods still vastly deep, dark, mysterious. When the first settlers arrived in the late 1800s, the lush landscape was the only convincing they needed—the Creston Valley and Kootenay Lake Route was discovered.
Between railways and gold mining, homesteading and agriculture, the region saw changes over an incredibly short period of time. By 1935, dikes along the river were built and breached, farmers had experienced the repercussions of flooding, the successes of that deep summer heat, a niche for livelihood had developed. By 1965, the Salmo-Creston Pass highway was finished, and the region saw an increase in traffic, on the map for more than just a route.
Recognizing the unique beauty of the area, the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area was developed in 1968, and from there nature and recreation set a precedent—protect the wetlands, respect the land, take your sweet time.
Today, it's all anyone can hope for—time. You'll find it here, amongst the artisans and coffee shops, between the apple orchards and fruit stands, along the dusty walkway along the farmers' market. There's plenty of time.