CPR hotel at Balfour

Lost Kootenay Lake hotels remembered in postcards

Two lithographed postcards depicting long-vanished hotels on opposite shores of Kootenay Lake sold for healthy prices of late.



Another in a series about Kootenaiana trading on eBay.

Two lithographed postcards depicting long-vanished hotels on opposite shores of Kootenay Lake sold for healthy prices of late.

The first, of the CPR’s Kootenay Lake Hotel at Balfour, went for $88.50 US. The same card has popped up before but never fetched anywhere near as much.

Erected on a bench overlooking the town, the Tudor and chateau-style hotel opened in 1911 and boasted 50 rooms, stone fireplaces, a large rotunda, and a steam-winched cable car that brought guests up from the sternwheeler landing (the alternative was several flights of stairs).

The outbreak of World War I forced the hotel’s premature closure, but in 1917 it re-opened as a sanatorium for convalescing soldiers, and later hosted the Prince of Wales. (Incredibly, footage of this visit survives and can be viewed at britishpathe.com/video/canadian-tour. The Kootenay content begins at the 14:17 mark.)

The sanitarium closed in 1920, and the building was demolished in 1929, its lumber recycled into several Nelson homes.

Less extravagant, but no less interesting, was the Outlet Hotel at Procter. While it was depicted on several lithographed postcards, a rare one showing a group on the lawn sold recently for $76 US.

The hotel began life in 1891 as the home of community namesake Thomas Procter, and doubled a hunting and fishing lodge. It opened to the general public in 1901.

Procter sold the building two years later to Gilbert Snow and wife, who greatly enlarged it. It became a favourite sternwheeler destination and picnic spot, famous for its Sunday chicken dinners prepared by an excellent Chinese cook named Goh.

The Snows sold to Nelson’s Billy Ward in 1919, but after the CPR opened its rail line from Procter to Kootenay Landing in 1931, the hotel’s heyday was over. It changed hands a few more times and was renamed the Holiday Inn before the furnishings were auctioned in 1966 and the building was demolished. On the site today are several homes.

• An original photo from the Boundary ghost town of Camp McKinney sold for the lone bid of $100. It depicts half a dozen men inside some sort of mill. Pencilled in purple at the bottom is “Pat Graham, McKinnie [sic] mill.”

The seller, from Vernon, believed it depicted a steam engine and 10 stamp mill brought from the abandoned Rainbow mine of Golden, Wash., in February 1894 — in a trail four feet deep in snow.

The photographer was named Baker — another of his Camp McKinney photos appears in Bill Barlee’s Gold Creeks and Ghost Towns, while a number of half-tone reproductions were published in the BC Mining Record in 1900.

Camp McKinney was founded in 1893 on the southeastern slop of Baldy mountain, following the discovery of several mines, chief among them the Cariboo-Amelia.

When the mine closed in 1904, so did the town.

This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on September 13.

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