GOA: Bob, JB Fletcher, an Angel, a Crow, some Bare Feet and a Dog

11 May 2023 – Yes, all of that — plus a go-round with airport security in Cranbrook that ends in laughter.

Exploration and chit-chat in Nelson, and the very next day we meet Bob. Well, BOB. In a manner of speaking.

BOB is the Big Orange Bridge that spans the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, and carries traffic up and down the main body of the lake. We are grateful for it, don’t get me wrong, and enjoy the nickname, but still — eyeing the colour scheme — think it might more accurately be called the Big Orange (Mostly) Bridge. Except then the acronym is BOMB. So maybe not such a good idea.

By whatever name or colour scheme, BOB does its job, and we drive on up the lake with two destinations in mind. First, Ainsworth Hot Springs, home to my vague memories of an actual soak in the springs so long ago, and then on to Kaslo, where I have no memories at all but we have a lunch-spot recommendation.

Ainsworth is not large, and we are immediately drawn to the JB Fletcher General Store (this photo courtesy of the tourist board, and thank you).

It is now a not-for-profit museum, and we’re tipped to this fact by the large poster in the front window.

We study it, and upon entry praise it to the young woman who greets us. She beams: she is the museum’s volunteer curator, and one of the people who slogged through the restoration that helped bring an 1896 general store, closed and abandoned in 1973, back to life. Though abandoned, it had not been ransacked, and once determined citizens (starting with Fletcher’s daughter) got the campaign going, they had all the original materials (floors, counters, shelving, gas lights, coffee grinder, etc) still in place.

We enjoy the visit, stuff a donation in the box, and walk on up to the hot springs resort.

I recognize nothing, and don’t mind. The springs are now enclosed in a sleek but simple &welcoming resort complex, owned and operated by the Yagan Nukly people (the Lower Kootenay Band of Creston BC). We don’t visit the hot springs themselves, we don’t even stay to eat lunch. We do — as travellers sometimes must — ask for the washrooms.

Where, on the toilet stall doors, we discover this: a poster explaining the Angel Shot.

We’d never heard of it. We are impressed. My friend immediately took a picture to share with restaurant-owner friends in Fernie. Please follow her example, help spread the practice.

Our goal in Kaslo is pretty simple-minded. Have lunch! Oh, and, walk its streets.

Lunch at Bluebelles is everything my friend’s source has promised. After that, we’re all set to go walk-abouts. It takes us lake-side, where I am promptly captivated by the sight of a steamship, up in dry dock at water’s edge. Memories of RMS Segwun, in Gravenhurst Ontario!

Here, it’s the SS Moyie, the oldest known intact vessel of her type in the world.

She was launched in 1898 as the Canadian Pacific Railway’s first “Crow boat,” to carry passengers on to Nelson from Kootenay Landing, the terminus for their Crowsnest line. She served in various capacities until 1957, was sold to the City of Kaslo in 1958 for exactly $1.00, and pulled up into dry dock.

Now a heritage site and under constant care, she is open to visitors through the summer season. But not yet, not while we’re there, so we admire from the sidewalk and trace the signs of her history: the pier, disappearing now beneath the surface of the lake…

and the old railway station and a vintage caboose.

Back to Nelson, and, the next day, out of Nelson and finally off to Fernie.

First the ferry across Kootenay Lake (judged part of the highway, therefore free)…

then a stop in Crawford Bay, on the east side of the lake, to enjoy the beauty and craftsmanship of the Barefoot Handweaving Studio/Gallery…

and then drive-drive-drive, and suddenly we are only 93 km from Fernie.

Or, as we discover once in town, FURnie.

Not the only sign to amuse us along the way. We remember Sew It Seams (fabric accessories) in Nelson, and Yack and Whack (hair salon) in Kaslo…

We walk around town, my friend fascinated to see its transitional spring-time face. She and her husband winter here, and are usually back in eastern Canada by this time of year. So… Fernie without snow? It’s a whole new world.

Up on the mountain complex of the Fernie Alpine Resort, for example, where the past season’s ski posters show their age…

and will soon be replaced by hiking signage. Most chairs are already off the various ski lifts, lined up for servicing, and the lifts themselves are under inspection.

We kick back for a couple of days, and then it’s time for me to head home. My friend drives me to the Cranbrook airport, where we discover that — oops — my gift jar of Haskap compote, purchased back at Thomasina’s in Princeton, counts as a liquid and exceeds airport security limits. Fortunately, my friend lingers at the security doorway. Much laughter as the security staff hand it over to her, and we tell her she is damn lucky this particular limitation is still in place.

The trip had lots of laugher. I’m happy to leave from an airport small enough, with personnel humane enough, to keep the laughter still part of it.

Footnote: my most excellent friend did not scarf down the compote! She swaddled it carefully, and mailed it to me. Canada Post delivered it, intact. I handed it over to its intended recipient, intact.

More laughter.


    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

  • Recent Posts

  • Walk, Talk, Rock… B.C.-style

  • Post Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 116,132 hits
  • Since 14 August 2014

    Flag Counter
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,003 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: