During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Riondel was a small mining settlement known as Hendryx, after Wilbur Hendryx, who controlled the nearby Bluebell mine. In 1905, the mine was purchased by the Canadian Metal Company, and two years later, the settlement was renamed Riondel, after the president of the company, Count Edouard Riondel.
The Bluebell mine operated from 1895 to 1929; during this time, the population of Riondel was roughly 70 people. The mine closed in 1929, causing the population to fall until only 22 remained in 1943. In 1950, the mine reopened, and the town's population grew to nearly 300 over the next three years. In 1952, Cominco built power lines across Kootenay Lake, bringing power to the east shore without the use of generators. This development also included a smelter and a townsite; Riondel was once again a thriving mining town.
In 1972, the Bluebell mine was permanently closed, and most of the town's population moved away. The older employees stayed and retired. Since then, Riondel has become a popular retirement community with about 400 residents.
Riondel is located on the eastern shore of Kooteney Lake, on Riondel Road, and just 10 km (6 mi) north of Kootenay Bay. Creston is an hour's drive south-east on Hwy 3A and Nelson is 90 minutes drive south-west on Hwy 3A.
Unique hand-sculpted wizards, fine jewelry, gifts, and a varied selection of dresses and women's clothing. Come and experience a different and magical kind of shopping.
Kokanee Springs Golf Resort is one of Canada's finest championship 18-hole courses. This graceful track, considered by many to be the flagship of the Kootenay golf courses, resides in a magnificent mountain setting on Kootenay Lake. Every hole is framed by spectacular panoramic views of the Kokanee Glacier and the surrounding area. Kokanee Springs is a Norman Woods original, characterized by its long driving fairways, immense rolling greens, immaculate course upkeep, and ability to interest and challenge golfers at all levels.
There is also has a 9-hole par 3 course at the Riondel Golf Club in Galena Bay.
The West Kootenay region contains over 80 hiking trails, all of which provide hikers with spectacular mountain scenery, breathtaking glaciers, alpine lakes, flower-strewn meadows, and incredible wildlife.
Year-round fishing is available at Kootenay Lake, where visitors can catch three varieties of trout (Gerrard rainbow, Dolly Varden, and Kokanee) and whitefish. The lake's largest catch is a 35lb 12oz Gerrard Rainbow trout, and the world's largest recorded Kokanee - almost 10 pounds - was caught here. The Kootenay area also has many creeks, small lakes, and rivers to challenge any skill level.
Kayaking and canoeing offer an opportunity for a unique and timeless experience. Four and five-day kayak trips can be planned and plotted out using maps of the area or you can take several daytrips, staying in any of the accommodations available. The area is full of wonderful sights, historical treasures, and great places to explore. The water is crystal-clear and all the destination spots are garbage-free. A great place to come and relax.
Starbelly Jam Music Festival is an outdoor musical extravaganza, held annually in Crawford Bay. The festival showcases musical talent from near and far. Many musical styles are featured, from folk and blues, reggae and world music, a bit of country or classical, and a touch of Celtic here and jazzy stuff there. This two-day event is all about fun and celebration; kids are very welcome at Starbelly and the event organizers go out of their way to give them a larger-than-life experience they won't soon forget. There are activities for kids, children's workshops, and special entertainment. Plus the giant parade in it's colourful and noisy Starbelly tradition!