In 1891, three men, F. Little, J. Arrowsmith, and J. Dow, arrived in the Creston area and each claimed a section of the land. Hoping to make a good return on their investment, they convinced the Canadian Pacific Railway to build a townsite and lay rails on their property. A townsite called "Seventh Siding" was created on Little's property in 1898. As construction of the townsite was underway, local residents decided to find a name more elegant than "Seventh Siding" for the town. Little suggested "Creston", based on the name of a town he'd visited in Idaho. There being no objections, the name was adopted. A sawmill was soon opened and expanded, making forestry an integral part of Creston's economy.
Agriculture saw tremendous growth after 1901, and to this day, is still the primary industry in Creston. The first fall fair was held in 1901, and in 1908, the first strawberry cooperative in the valley was established in Wynndel. By 1950, there were three grain elevators, and fruit was grown extensively in the valley. Occasionally, the whole town would be closed and the fall fair cancelled because a good harvest resulted in extra hands being needed to help bring in the apple crop.
Today, alfalfa and canola crops have replaced wheat, but fruits and berries are in abundance. There are also a number of pure-bred horse ranches, and the Blueberry Patch, which grows strawberries hydroponically.
The town of Creston is located on Highway 3, 28 km (17 mi) south of Kootenay Lake and 11 km (7 mi) north of the United States border. Heading north from Creston, Highway 3A leads to the longest free ferry ride in North America that crosses Kootenay Lake. Once across the lake, Highway 3A continues to the west and Highway 31 goes north to connect with the westbound Highway 6. South of Creston, Highway 21 is the 11-km (7-mi) stretch of road to the Canada/United States border that crosses into the State of Idaho.
Greyhound Bus Lines offers bus service twice daily to the east (Calgary, Lethbridge, etc.) and twice daily to the west (Kelowna, Vancouver, etc.).
Creston is only an hour and a half drive from two regional airports: one in Castlegar and the other in Cranbrook. Both offer several daily flights to Kelowna, Kamloops, Vancouver and Calgary.
Join a tour featuring 1,000 years of history in the Creston Valley, held in the Stone House Museum. The museum, which opens May through mid-September, has two main buildings, both built in the 1960s by master stonemason
Rudolph Schultz. Other buildings on the property include a century-old schoolhouse from Kingsgate (near Yahk), a trapper's cabin and a shed that shelters farm equipment, including a 1920s Ford and Caterpillar. The Creston Museum is also home to the Seventh Siding Trackers, a model railway club that has created a miniature version of the Creston Valley in the living room of a former apartment on the museum
Come visit one of the Creston Valley's prized possessions. This 17,000 acre wetland is a migration home to more than 260 species of birds. There are also 50 species of mammals and over 30 species of fish and amphibians. There are guided canoe tours and on-going programs and events throughout the season. Take a walk on the boardwalks and the 30 km (19 mi) of dykes. The bird observation tower and the viewing deck surround you with the beauty of Creston.
Come and visit the Columbia Brewery, which has been brewing beer in the Creston area since 1952. Enjoy a tour and observe how each bottle of Kokanee and other types of beer travel through the brewery before they are shipped out. Follow the Sasquatch footprints as they lead you to the heart of the brewery, which produces 920 kegs a day, at a rate of 635 bottles a minute! After you tour, sit back and enjoy free sampling, or shop around at the 'Beer Gear Store' for souvenirs and clothing. Don't forget to get your picture taken with the famous Kokanee Sasquatch on your way out!
Cross-country skiers won't have a difficult time finding the perfect spot to practice their hobby. The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area has more than 30 km (19 mi) of trails, some of which weave through the marshy area surrounding the Wildlife Interpretation Centre. Summit Creek Park, located a few minutes west of Creston on Highway 3 is also a popular choice, with trails that extend into the flat land on the valley floor. More trails can be found about 40 km (25 mi) past Summit Creek Park on Highway 3 at the top of the Kootenay Pass, complete with a heated cabin to recharge after a day of vigorous skiing.
Downhill skiers will be pleased to discover five ski hills within a three-hour drive. West of Creston are the Salmo Ski Hill, renowned for its nighttime skiing, and Rossland's Red Mountain, where Olympic gold medallists Nancy Greene and Kerrin Lee Gartner got their start. North of Salmo off Highway 6 is Whitewater Ski Resort, which, well-known for its powder, bills itself as being "pure, simple and real . . . deep." East of Creston is the Kimberley Alpine Resort, which features 80 runs, and the Fernie Alpine Resort.
Snowmobiling is also popular. Miles of logging roads winding through incredible scenery entice many people to head out for a spin.
There are trails from level to steep, and from short to long. Some are best for viewing wildlife while others are interesting for their historical value. There are many trails away from the noise of traffic, which can be enjoyed without driving long distances to reach them. There are organized hikes so people don't have to hike alone, making hiking a social and safe experience. Balancing Rock Trail is ten minutes west of Creston and one of many trails on Mount Creston. It takes about 30 minutes to climb the winding trail, parts of which are quite steep. Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area's trails are open year-round, although the Area's interpretive centre isn't. From Highway 3 west of Creston, turn onto West Creston Road and drive to the parking lot on the left. The trails are well-marked and easy to find on maps posted in the area. Williams Creek Falls, Lady's Slipper Trail and Mount Thompson provide other hiking opportunities.
Duck Lake is famous for bass fishing, and Kootenay Lake is teeming with rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and kokanee.
And the seemingly endless streams and alpine lakes in the Kootenays certainly make fly fishing a viable option. Duck Lake is also a popular winter fishing spot, and is almost always frozen by the end of December. This small lake 20 minutes north of Creston is well-known to summertime bass fishers, but makes an excellent spot for families to enjoy this winter activity - and try out some skating for good measure.
The Creston Valley has some of the Kootenays' best big game hunting, and the marshland on the flats is a prime location for setting up blinds and decoys to hunt waterfowl.
Golfers travelling to Creston Valley are in luck as there are 17 golf courses located within two hours of Creston. Two are minutes away - the Creston Golf Club in Lister and the Canyon Heights Golf Course in Canyon. The 18-hole, par-72 Creston Golf Club was the home of B.C.'s 1992 juvenile, 1998 junior, 2002 senior amateur, 2004 ladies' amateur and 2006 high school championships. Spectacular views of the Kootenay River and surrounding mountains can be seen from the course. If you want to get in a game, but don't have a lot of time, the five-hole Canyon Heights Golf Course in Canyon is your best bet. The course also features an 18-hole putting range, located at the foot of the magnificent Skimmerhorns, part of the Purcell mountain range.
Mountain biking is also popular in the area and many local bikers enjoy frequenting the numerous logging roads in the area. The more adventurous prefer to take their bikes off-road and onto bumpier trails - a helmet, water bottle and riding buddy are a must! For bikers who prefer the open
road, the Wynndel loop (Highway 3A and Lower Wynndel Road), the Canyon-Lister loop (Highway 21, Canyon Lister Road and Highway 3) and the West Creston loop (Evans Road, West Creston Road, Nick's Island Road and Highway 3) are popular.
Not to be missed is the annual Artwalk that runs each summer,
inviting both art lovers and the curious to see the creations of dozens of artists in businesses and galleries from Yahk to Kootenay Bay. Travellers and locals alike delight in the many opportunities to meet artists and, often, see them busy creating works in their home galleries. More than two dozen galleries welcome visitors to see paintings of every description, pottery and ceramics, beadwork, fabric art, candle making, ironwork, blown and stained glass, and even straw brooms.
It can often feel very much like summer by the middle of May in Creston, when the apple and cherry trees bloom and Creston hosts the annual Creston Valley Blossom Festival on the Victoria Day (May) weekend. The festival opens with a variety show, and features a parade, a street festival, a classic car show, a demolition derby and a chili cook-off. This annual festival began in the early 1940s as a way to raise the community's morale during the Second World War.
Creston Visitor Centre
Toll Free: 1-866-528-4342