Ymir (pronounced Why-mur not Ya-mere), both a Norse God and a shadow-of-itself former mining camp in BC. This 1890s boom town, which had hotels by the score, most of them running hard all night long, is now a backwater off the highway between Nelson and Salmo. Sneeze and you’ll pass right by. But that’s fine anyway since the quiet adds to the charm.
The Hotel Ymir was our base for three days while we did some business in nearby Nelson and is one of two historical places to stay right in town. The other is the Palace Inn just behind it. Both date from the heady days before the turn of the twentieth century and both were thankfully saved and restored to their former glory.
And it’s cheap. We stayed there, in the lowest cost hostel type rooms on the third floor, perfectly fine for people like us who are only need a place to sleep. For the cost of one night in most hotels, we stayed three. It was clean too and the pub was a hoot.
Note the old pictures where the hotel is narrower. I was assured by the owners, most of the original structure was retained when they remodelled it and made it wider. The entire hotel, the rooms – the hallways – the pub, is one giant art gallery and interesting paintings, pictures and statues grace its walls and coves. Old photos showing it in earlier times were also graced the walls and I’ve included some of them in this report.
I can’t wait to explore the Palace Inn behind. It’s a beauty and we’ll return to stay there one day (I hope anyway).
We found the schoolhouse, dating from the late 1930s, on the opposite side of town. According to the Nelson Daily News, which were researching for another project, the earlier school burnt down and the one we saw was built to replace it. It’s not certain when they quit using the building, but it seems to be in okay shape for now. I believe it sits in the same spot as the original and it’s interesting in that it was built totally on the other side of Ymir far away from any debauchery happening in the cursed business section of town (ie, where our hotel sits). Downtown would not have been a good place for children in the boom days.
Outside of the places mentioned not much remains in the way of old commercial or business related buildings in town. There are a fair number of old houses though and on the hills overlooking Ymir one can see pock marks from the various mines that once made this town famous. These are high on my list to visit! The diggings were so productive that it made many a mine owner or syndicate rich beyond belief.
An old rail line runs in front of the hotel, and this track, a former Great Northern line (nee Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway, later Burlington Northern and finally Burlington Northern Santa Fe) that came in from the US to tap the riches of the area. Later relegated to a sleepy branch line, it was abandoned in the early 1990s. Now it’s a rails to trails linear park and there is a free camping site for those travelling the line right in front of the hotel. There is a small grocery store next door to the hotel too, another interesting place.
Just a bit east, on the opposite of the old rail bed was the loading point for the mines. A tramway system brought down the ores from the mines in the hills above and it’s here where it was loaded into waiting rail cars for travel to area smelters. It’s my understanding that the loading site was heavily contaminated and cleaned up recently leaving no traces behind.
Ymir: A giant from Norse mythology, It’s said upon his death, at the hands of Odin and his brothers, that Ymir’s body became the heavens and earth, his bones becoming the mountains.
Update: May 2013. Friend of BIGDoer Robert Boyd sent us two pictures he took in 1994, showing both the Hotel Ymir and the then empty Palace Inn. Note how run down they both looked. The Palace Inn in particular is almost unrecognisable and it’s hard to image the beautiful building we see today hiding under that ugly exterior. I understand at that time the future of both was uncertain, but happily the worst did not happen.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: August 2012
Location: Ymir, BC.