1) KOOTENAY CO-OP: In 1975, about 20 families got together to start the Vallican-Winlaw Food Co-operative, which ordered bulk food and delivered it in a beat-up old panel truck.
From those humble beginnings emerged the Kootenay Co-op, which opened a small space in South Slocan in 1981 and moved to Nelson four years later.
Now the largest independent consumer-owned natural foods retail co-op in Canada, they marked their 40th anniversary by breaking ground on Nelson Commons, a combination retail and housing complex expected to open in 2016.
2) SAVE-ON-FOODS: BC grocery chain Overwaitea marked its centennial. The chain started in New Westminster, where grocer Robert C. Kidd sold 18 ounces of tea for the price of a pound, hence the name.
In 1924, a Nelson brach opened on Baker St. The store moved to larger premises in the late 1950s on Vernon St., where the credit union is today, but was burned out in 1972. It re-opened as an anchor tenant for the Chahko Mika Mall in 1980 and was renamed Save-On-Foods in 2001.
3) ST. FRANCIS-IN-THE-WOODS: One of the most picturesque churches in West Kootenay turned 100. The aptly-named St. Francis-in-the-Woods, tucked in the trees just off Highway 3A in Queens Bay, was deconsecrated in 1994 and is today a community centre used for weddings, memorials, dances, and other social events.
“This building generations a feel in of peace and protection,” said Nancy Corrin of the Queens Bay Residents Association. “it is the heart of our community.”
The centennial was marked in June with a well-attended tea that brought back many former residents.
4) AIMEE BEAULIEU TRANSITION HOUSE: It’s been 20 years since the Aimee Beaulieu transition house opened in Nelson as an emergency safe place for women and children facing violence. The facility has eight beds.
“It’s almost always full,” said Nelson Community Services executive director Rona Park as staff marked the anniversary with an open house at the Prestige Lakeside Resort. “That’s sad but it’s the truth.”
The transition house was named in memory of Beaulieu and her twin infants, Samantha and David, who were murdered in 1992 in a still-unsolved case.
5) GEORAMA GROWERS: What began as a small flower stand in 1970 is now a bustling, nursery, greenhouse, and landscaping business. Georama Growers celebrated 45 years, all under the helm of the Grypma family.
Anna Grypma’s modest kiosk in front of Super-Valu became a Baker St. shop, which moved to Blewett in the 1980s where it now employs 12 full-time staff — twice as many during the spring rush.
Second generation co-owner Case Grypma estimates they seed and propagate 350,000 to 500,000 plants from seeds and cuttings, working 12-hour days, seven days a week from March to mid-June.
6) WHITEWATER SKI RESORT: On Dec. 26, 1975, following a combination of donations, bank loans, government grants, and volunteer labour, Whitewater officially opened. Skiing in the West Kootenay was never the same.
The resort, famous for its deep powder, enters its 40th anniversary year with conditions promising to be an improvement on last year — a tough one for many western ski resorts, although Whitewater weathered El Nino better than most.