What can I say, Trout Lake City BC is like Nirvana for a history buff such as myself. With every turn there are fascinating places to explore. I could spend an entire summer there and not run out of things to do.
The only sad part of this trip was my camera started acting goofy and many of the pictures ended up be corrupt and unusable. I am sure I’ll return to take more!
It was mining that gave birth to Trout Lake and numerous workings dot the nearby mountains. We did not visit any since this early in the season the snow pack is too high. The Silver Cup and the Triune are two of the most famous examples and both are located way up on nearby ridges. Looking at production reports for these mines it’s clear they made their owners some serious money. There are old mine roads leading to each, probably heavily overgrown, but I believe with some work it’s possible to visit the sites. ATVs are needed of course.
And back to this snow pack – it was the reason we saw so many bears. It was still winter in the high country, driving them down low where the food was. Over the weekend the count was 29, including cubs (one mother had four). Unfortunately almost all the pictures of them were in the ones that were corrupt.
The story of how the Trout Lake ore got to market is a fascinating one. In one super long breath – sacked ore was brought down from the local mines and transferred to boats or barges at the docks in Trout Lake, then they were taken south down the lake to Gerrard, transferred to a train, an isolated CPR branch, which then travelled south to Lardo (or Lardeau) at the north end of Kootenay lake where they put the rail cars on a barge, (or transferred the sacked ore to boats) which were then taken down to Proctor, the rail cars dragged back to land, and from there they travelled to smelters via CPR’s southern mainline (whew!). This laborious process must have been very costly.
I explored the old ore docks and you can see pictures showing parts of the piers and pilings. Standing still I can imagine a boat docked here and getting loaded up with valuable ore.
The cabin I stayed at belongs to a friend and does appear in some old pictures of the town. Its location was “downtown” but it’s unclear if the building was business of some kind or just a residence. During world war two the many empty buildings in town, perhaps including this one, were used to house Japanese-Canadian Internees.
There is a large (no a huge) cherry tree out front of this building. This not a cherry tree friendly climate yet this one seems to thrive. People in town believe it was planted by those internees spoken of earlier.
One set of pictures that was corrupt were of the town gas station. They still have the old glass-globe pumps perhaps the last station anywhere to use them. These are often seen in museums!
The Windsor Hotel is an amazing structure and the last remaining one out of many the town had. It was closed this season but I am not sure why. Until then, I believe it had been open continuously since being built in the 1890s.
Found in the back yard of the very cabin I stayed at was one of two original fire hydrants found in town. Interesting! Seen near the lake was what must have been some sort of barge or dock structure made of rough hewn logs.
We did a side trip to the ghost town of Gerrard, on the south end of Trout Lake. There is not much left here but the place is famous for the spawning Gerrard Trout and we arrived when this was at its peak. Where the lake empties into the river, it was a sea of fish, hundreds if not thousands of them. Of course that brought in the predators and while no bears were seen here, many Eagles were. Both the Bald and Golden types.
I explored the town and outside of one old cabin (still being used from the looks of it – it even had Christmas lights) the only other things I found was evidence of the old rail bed deep in the trees – this was that isolated CPR branch spoken of earlier. The line was built in the early 1900s and was never that busy although they had high hopes. It was abandoned in the early 1940s and in the last years, service was provided by an auto with rail wheels pulling a small boxcar trailer. Most of the highway south of Gerrard was built atop the old roadbed.
I also found an an old engine in the Lardeau River. The Lardeau by the way has two sections – the northern one empties into Trout Lake at TLC and the southern section is fed by the same lake at its extreme southern end. The river then travels south to Kootenay Lake. Back to the engine now – it’s from a Model T according to some experts I spoke with. Who knows why it’s here (mining junk perhaps?).
On the way home, we visited the the Trout Lake graveyard. What a sad place and it’s in total disrepair. I hope some organization will consider fixing the place up. One grave seen was of a miner and his stone stated he worked at and was killed at the Silver Cup Mine mentioned earlier. Another headstone was very elaborate and clearly this person had money. Other wooden markers were scattered about, and other piled up next to a tree, but most were too worn to be read.
The nearby Lardeau River (northern section) is a placer gold producer, but only minor one. There is a canyon just up from Trout Lake City that is likely the best spot for finding the elusive yellow stuff. This area is all staked though, so don’t venture here with plans to pan. The southern section of the river, the part that drains from Trout Lake at Gerrard has no gold.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: May 2011
Location: Trout Lake, BC.