The first settlement in the area was West Waterloo (now known as South-Castlegar). Discovery of iron cappings in the vicinity led to interest in gold prospecting, and by 1895, there were forty houses in Waterloo. The town boomed until the end of the century when interest in the local mines declined. Around the year 1902, the Canadian Pacific Railway built the bridge at Castlegar and laid the wide gauge railway tracks to Trail. They put in a box car station at the old Waterloo trail crossing and called it Kinnaird Station in honour of Lord Kinnaird, who was a shareholder in the Canadian Pacific Railway.
There was little in Castlegar until after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway's bridge. Mr. Farmer built the first store in town, with a Post Office included and the town hall on the second floor. William Gage built the Castlegar Hotel in 1908 (it was destroyed in fire in 1982). Also in 1908, the first schoolhouse was built by a few local residents who bought the lumber and erected the building. In 1913, there were 15 students at the school Eremenko's store, and a dance pavilion, garage, tourist cabins and a slaughterhouse had all been established by 1925.
The first school in Kinnaird (now South Castlegar) was built in the fall of 1916 by volunteer labour. The lumber and bricks were donated by local residents. This school opened in January 1917. There was a fairly large mill built about a mile west of the present school in 1918-19. This mill was operated by the Milestone Lumber Company from Milestone, Saskatchewan, hence the name Milestone Road (now known as 24th Street). They also had a lumber yard and a large planing mill covering the area from 9th Avenue (now known as Columbia Avenue) and Milestone Road right down to and across the railway tracks.
During the 40s, both Castlegar and Kinnaird were incorporated as villages, and during the 60s, both were incorporated as towns. The two communities amalgamated on January 1, 1974 and were incorporated as the City of Castlegar.
The City of Castlegar is centrally located in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. The City is 600 km (372 mi) from both Vancouver and Calgary and 233 km (145 mi) north of Spokane, Washington. Castlegar is the focal point of three major highways - Highway 3 (Crowsnest Highway), Highway 3A and Highway 22. It is also situated at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers at the southern end of the Arrow Lakes.
The Doukhobor Discovery Centre is an expansive village that teaches about the rich heritage of the Doukhobor people. These beautifully landscaped grounds and perfectly restored buildings offer a glimpse into a typical day for these peaceful Russian descendants. View over 1,000 authentic artifacts such as the "petch" (bread baking oven) and wood-fired "banya" (sauna) as you tour the village and audio visual room with its exceptional photo and documentary film archive.
Literally the birthplace of Castlegar, this authentic Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station was once a bustling hub of activity, with trains carrying passengers and cargo between Nelson and Castlegar. Almost a century old, the building is now a remarkable museum, complete with perfectly preserved caboose car open for tours, and original second storey living quarters filled with antique treasures and local memorabilia.
Zuckerberg Island heritage Parkis a tranquil oasis, just minutes from downtown Castlegar. Walk across the award-winning 144-metre (473-foot) suspension bridge to explore forested pathways leading to idyllic riverside picnic spots on the Columbia River. Several plaques detail local history including the Lakes Salish people who fished and built their winter pit houses here, thousands of years ago. In summer, tour the Island's Russian Orthodox style Chapel House centerpiece, the former home of Alexander Zuckerberg and his family.
With a colourfully painted lush floral exterior, the Kootenay Gallery invites visitors to explore their diverse collection of rotating exhibits and carefully curated gift shop items. Even the Gallery grounds are a thing of beauty with a working sundial, butterfly and xeriscape gardens and a habitat restoration project, all overlooking the Columbia River below. From large-scale paintings to beautiful hand-crafted jewellery, and local and international artists from every artistic medium, this gallery is a hidden treasure worth discovering.
Cross country ski enthusiasts will find countless trails leading through pristine winter fields and forested areas, like the popular Paulson Cross-Country Ski Trails and adjacent Nancy Greene Provincial Park. The Castlegar Nordic Ski Club provides approximately 40 km (28 mi) of well-maintained cross-country ski trails, plus another 8.5 km (5 mi) left untracked, that range in levels suitable for the beginner or the advanced. The ideal location for those lusting after true north ski and snowboard adventure, Castlegar is centrally located between Whitewater Winter Resort's deep snow, varied terrain and authentic character and Red Mountain Resort's world-class steep and deep tree skiing.
Join the fun of one of the fastest growing outdoor recreation pursuits in BC: snowmobiling! The Castlegar Snowmobile Association grooms over 70 km (43 mi) of phenomenal trails throughout the area to suit the pleasure of every snowmobile enthusiast in search of unique terrain and natural beauty.
With a championship 18-hole course, a 9-hole par-3 course, and many more courses virtually at its doorstep, Castlegar has something for every golfer. The 18-hole Castlegar Golf Club is a beautiful course perched on a hill overlooking the city offering outstanding value for golfers. With a par-72 championship course, great after-game amenities and friendly staff, it's no wonder this venue regularly hosts prestigious events and tournaments. The 9-hole Little Bear Golf Resort has the illusion of 18 holes by having 18 separate tee boxes. The course is well-suited for beginners and attracts lots of families, but can also challenge the most seasoned golfer.
Millennium Walkway is a serene riverside path and is part of a larger network of paved trails along the Columbia River. With mostly flat stretches and the occasional incline, this beautiful tree-lined walkway is a local favourite for early morning jogs, romantic moonlight strolls and lazy days on the beach. Located just minutes from downtown, the walkway has two baseball diamonds and a playground, and is close to Zuckerberg Island.
With secluded trails offering some of the most challenging downhill terrain around, you'll be amazed at this hidden secret. Cycling in Castlegar offers up-close and personal encounters with landscape, wildlife, and weather, making for some of the best vacation experiences ever. Road cycling along the highway is a common practice around here, with scenic mountain passes and relatively light traffic, in addition to a wide range of gentle straight stretches and more challenging uphill climbs. The really adventurous can try out the Columbia and Western Railway Trail, accessed from the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, just past Castlegar, which traverses up and over high mountain ranges, all the way to Midway, BC.
Celebrate Castlegar's annual Artwalk during July and August. Discover unique sculptures, glass, metalwork, painting, and photography at the mini-galleries around town. Pick up your 'tour brochure' from the Visitor Centre in Castlegar or any local business with an 'Artwalk' poster.