New edition of Kootenay Outlet Reflections planned

A group planning to update and reprint a popular local history book is putting out a final call for submissions of family stories.

Kootenay Outlet Reflections was published to acclaim in 1988

Kootenay Outlet Reflections was published to acclaim in 1988

A group planning to update and reprint a popular local history book is putting out a final call for submissions of family stories.

Kootenay Outlet Reflections, a comprehensive account of Balfour, Queens Bay, Harrop, Procter, Longbeach, and environs, was published 25 years ago.

It’s long been out of print but there is no shortage of people who want a copy, according to Josh Smienk, co-chair of the committee working on the project.

“It’s very hard to get ahold of,” he says. “Someone in Queens Bay just spent over $100 on one. There’s quite a pent up demand for it.”

In addition to satisfying that demand by producing an exact facsimile of the 538-page book — save for correcting one image originally printed upside down — Smienk says they plan to add another 100 to 125 pages, covering more recent developments and history that was missed or wasn’t available the first time.

They’ve received over 40 submissions to date and hope to include pictures that have come to light in recent years, such as glass plate negatives showing early Harrop, and photos of the first log hotel in Balfour.

Certain oversights will also be corrected. While the first edition devoted plenty of space to early boats and transportation on the lake, it didn’t say much about the tugboats that worked for Kootenay Forest Products from the 1950s to the ‘80s.

“It wasn’t seen as relevant as the old stuff at the time,” says Smienk, who towed logs after high school. “Now you don’t even see tugboats on the lake.”

The addendum will further include additional text and photos on Queens Bay, which is marking its centennial, as well as pictures of turn-of-the-20th century agriculture and fruit growing, and land development ads.

Another idea is to create a list of homes by fire number and trace which families lived in them over the years — fire numbers didn’t exist when the book was first published, so it’s sometimes hard to figure out whose place is being referred to.

“It will provide some additional context,” Smienk says. “You’ll know you’re the third owner of the property, for instance. It won’t be exact, but I think it will help.”

A postcard went out last fall to everyone in the area encouraging them to submit family stories (maximum 500 words and one photo). A template is available online at, along with examples of stories included in the first edition.

Submissions can be sent to kootenayoutletreflections(at) or dropped off in person at the Balfour Gill and Gift, Procter store, or Kokanee Park Marine store.

Smienk says some people may think they haven’t been here long enough to merit inclusion in the book, “but in 30 years people are going to want to know. Don’t think of the value today, think of the value in 30 years.”

Smienk’s own family is among those omitted from the first edition who will appear in the second. The same goes for co-chair Truus Zelonka, who says that although the postcard indicated a deadline of this week, their goal is now to have all the material in by February.

“It’s going to take three to four months to write, and afterward, another six to 12 weeks to get the book out,” she says. “If there’s anything else people want to say about the history of the Outlet area that’s not in the first book, they’re welcome to.”

The original book was a project of the Procter seniors group, who have given the Balfour and District Business and Historic Association permission to do the reprint. A committee of eight is working on it, including block captains for each community.

In addition to pre-sales, the book is being helped by a Columbia Basin Trust grant through the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance. The initial print run will be 500 copies, and to keep costs down, it won’t have a hard cover as the first edition did.

Pre-orders are being accepted for $50 and can be placed at the Gill and Gift or sent to Box 2, Balfour, V0G 1C0.

“We’ve got quite a few people who have paid for the book already,” Zelonka says. “No doubt about it, it’s going to get done in 2013.”