Kaslo Bay, Kootenay Lake - Woodsbury Resort, Ainsworth, BC
The village of Ainsworth is set into the mountainside overlooking the vast expanse of Kootenay Lake and the Purcell Mountains. Ainsworth is famous for its amazing hot springs, set amidst limestone caves. The hot mineral water falls from the ceiling of the caves providing a natural steam bath. The nearby Kootenay Lake is also a great place for fishing and boating. The lake houses several varieties of trout, including the former world-record holder Kokanee, having been caught here. The West Kootenay region contains an abundance of hiking trails, providing hikers with spectacular mountain scenery, breathtaking glaciers, alpine lakes, flower strewn meadows, and incredible wildlife.
Ainsworth Hot Springs is located on Hwy 31, on the western shore of Kootenay Lake 48 km (30 mi) north of Nelson via Hwy 3A and Hwy 31 and 20 km (12 mi) south of Kaslo.
There are many stories in early chronicles which mention the Hot Springs. Like many Canadian natural attractions, Ainsworth Hot Springs was probably first discovered by native Indians. The Indians came up to Kootenay Lake in the late summer mostly to take advantage of the Kokanee Salmon run. Since this timing coincided with the ripening of the huckleberry crop, it would be natural to assume that after spending the days clambering around the hills these people would welcome a soak in the hot springs.
In 1882 George Ainsworth of Portland, Oregon, applied for a preemption of the townsite which is now Ainsworth Hot Springs. It was at first called Hot Springs Camp and had been founded on the strength of silver, lead, and zinc discoveries in the vicinity. Names like the Krao, Keyline, No. 1, Let-Her-Go-Gallager and Highlander were the foremost of an impressive list of mining properties.
During this time the Hot Springs itself didn’t seem to be very high on the priority list of Ainsworth. It wasn’t until the 1920s when the town was starting to decline as a mining centre, that an effort was made to develop the hot springs. The mining company that owned the property at that time decided to build a pool to be used primarily by the miners.
By the time the pool and caves were finished in the early 1930’s the great depression was in full swing. A succession of lessees operated the pool and lodge through the 30s, 40s, and 50s.
In the 40s and 50s, mining activity peaked and production was the highest ever recorded, mostly due to improved machinery. In the later 50s, silver prices dropped and the mines were closed. The owners of the Hot Springs, Yale Lead and Zinc Co. Ltd, decided to sell their property in the Ainsworth townsite, including the pool, cave, and lodge.
Sam and Belle Homen purchased and operated the property in 1962. They retired in 1979 and the property was bought by their daughter Joyce Mackie and her husband Norm. In 2015, Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort and the surrounding properties were purchased by the Lower Kootenay Band in Creston, BC.