The picturesque hamlet of 450 is one of the few places in the Columbia Valley to retain its original name. It was christened in 1883 by Gilbert Malcolm Sproat, who also named Lake Windermere.
In 1887 mail began to make its way to the new settlement by way of horse, and in 1888, George Starke built the Windermere Hotel. In 1890 a warehouse and dock were constructed on the lakeshore, and three years later, blacksmith George Geary established his smith shop and stopping house.
By 1900, Windermere boasted its first school class under the tutelage of Mary Kay Smith, a Presbyterian church, an addition to the Windermere Hotel, and the valley's first doctor, Robert Elliott, arrived to establish his practice. The final year of the 1800s also saw the White House and St. Peter's Church moved from Donald to Windermere. The St. Peter's Church is better known as the Stolen Church. Rufus Kimpton had moved his family to Windermere in 1899 from Donald, but his wife pined for the little church she had left behind, and Rufus took it upon himself to "steal" the house of worship and move it to his family's new home. The Columbia Lumber Company brought many loggers to the valley in the early part of the century, and the townsite, one of the first in the valley, began to grow.
People came to Windermere to farm, raise cattle, pan for gold or transport goods and supplies from Sandpoint, Idaho to the store in Windermere. Though the land had little agricultural potential, settlers persisted in attempting to grow crops. Many of the settlers were from England, but a variety of backgrounds made up the population of early Windermere.
A board of trade was established in 1956, and the Windermere Historical Society was formed in 1958. Several of the original buildings still stand today, including the Northwest Mounted Police barracks, the White House, St. Peter's Church and Pitts Family Store, some of which house many of the local artisans.
One of the first families to live in the community brought their home with them when they moved to Windermere. The building was operated as the White House Hotel for a number of years and the original name and character have been preserved.
Windermere is located on the east shore of Windermere Lake. Situated on Highway 93 and 95, Windermere is 16 km (10 mi) north of Fairmont Hot Springs and 8 km (5 mi) south of Invermere.
Located just a few minutes north of Fairmont Hot Springs, the Windermere Valley Golf Course offers wide, level fairways for novices and intermediates, colourful flowerbeds, and breathtaking mountain vistas.
Windermere Beach Regional Park is the perfect location for a picnic and kids can expend their energy in the playground if swimming isn't to their liking.
Winner of the Stokes Gardener Award and featured in Garden West Magazine, Creekside Gardens features separate theme gardens which are designed to attract birds and butterflies. Visitors can wander through a series of twenty spectacular gardens spread over two acres.
Enjoy a hands-on look at the history of the Windermere Valley and its settlers at the Valley Pioneer Museum. On display are extensive archival materials, a large historic photograph collection, mining cabins and heritage buildings, and even a dugout canoe crafted by an early member of the First Nations Shuswap Band.
Nestled between the towering peaks of the Purcell and Rocky Mountains, this day-use area provincial park is situated at the north end of 15 kilometres long Windermere Lake. A broad, sandy beach backed with open, grassy play areas offers pleasant surroundings for families who enjoy lakeshore recreation. Windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming are popular activities. There is an adventure playground and a volleyball court.
Excellent windsurfing opportunities can be found at Windermere Lake and Columbia Lake.
Launch your boat from Jacob Chabot Provincial Park and fish for trout on Windermere Lake.
Enjoy the gorgeous scenery as you bike along Windermere Lake.
Skiers can head out to the Fairmont Ski Hills for downhill skiing and snowboarding on the 300-metre vertical rise. Twenty kilometres of groomed trails are available for cross-country skiing, and night skiing is available for four nights each week.
Columbia Valley Guide