This photo was taken in 1898 near present-day Wynndel. The boat is the SS Marion.

COLUMN: Kootenay Lake then and now

You’ve seen then-and-now pictures. But probably nothing quite like what Howard Boyle has done recently.

IMG_5474 from Greg Nesteroff on Vimeo.

You’ve seen then-and-now pictures. But probably nothing quite like what Howard Boyle has done recently with an album of photos taken at the south end of Kootenay Lake before 1900.

I wrote about the album recently, which comes from the Uno Langmann collection at UBC Special Collections and produced several never-before-seen images of the boomtown of Kuskonook prior to the fire of March 1900 that destroyed most of its buildings.

Boyle, who lives not far from there, has since been using the mountains in those photos to pinpoint their exact locations and overlaying contemporary photos on the historic shots. He’s compiled them into short films, including the one above, in which the past and present fade into each other and back again in a downright eerie effect.

While they’re all impressive, probably the most jaw-dropping of the bunch is a photo that shows what appears to be the steamer Marion tied up at a camp on the Kootenay River. A sign on one of the tents reads “Boat to connect [sic] with Ainsworth – Albeta [sic]/Lodging.”

That’s a reference to the SS Alberta, a steamship built by the Bonners Ferry and Kaslo Transportation Co. in 1893 as the State of Idaho but renamed in 1895 after running aground and being sold to the Alberta and BC Exploration Co. It was removed from service in 1902 and later tied up near Riondel as a summer home.

Boyle found the photo was taken around Wynndel — and in a breathtaking moment in the film, reveals what’s there today, which betrays no sign of its earlier use.

My thanks to Howard for letting me share his amazing efforts with you.

Below: A pre-1900 view of Kuskonook, taken from an album in the Uno Langmann collection at UBC Special Collections; a view of the same spot today taken by Jean Pigeon; and the two images overlayed by Howard Boyle.

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