Go West, Day 21 – Cranbrook, BC

Author: Larry St Aubin

Today is a long drive as we make our way to Cranbrook, BC. We are driving the Crowsnest Highway but won’t have time for any touring spots.

We are now heading back east. We are heading home. The direction makes me both a little sad that our trip will soon me ending. I could go on for another month. But I also feel it is time to get on with real life.

It means I will be losing an hour with the time zone change. With so many adventures to encounter, every hour counts.

It means I’m heading into the sun. Being a morning person means I’m getting the full sunrise in my eyes. However, it does provide continued opportunity for sunrise photos.

Fort Steele Heritage Town. We at Fort Steele acknowledge that Fort Steele is within the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa First Nation, and we are so grateful to be able to have our site rest on this beautiful land, with such a rich history and culture, which we are dedicated to wholly, and truthfully preserving.

The Ktunxaxa (pronounced “k-too-nah-ha”) people have occupied the lands around the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers for over 10,000 years.

Well, they don’t call it Coldspring Campground for nothing. The temperature went down to 5 degrees. Not an auspicious beginning to the first day of summer. The girls were fine. I had an extra blanket I put on top. I, however, was “not warm”. I woke up at 3 am and said, fine, I want to be in a nice warm car. Cold is a great motivating factor in getting out of bed. Plus it was a long drive to Fort Steele, with a time change, so I got the jump on that.

At the two muffins I had bought the other night, fed the pugs and we were off. Had to drive carefully because of wildlife. 1 coyote and 2 deer crossed in front of me.

Hedley, BC. As the plaque indicates, it was a booming gold town. Now it is tourism.

Caught this out of the corner of my eye. At 4 am there isn’t much traffic so pulled over to the side of the road to take it. The sunrise painting the top of the mountain.

This was in Keremeos in the Okanagan. I passed through here in 2019 but didn’t stop for fruit as I was on my way to Kelowna. Now, when I can get some fruit, I passed 40 fruit stands and they were all closed. It was 5 am.

I took a few mountain/cloud shots even though I didn’t have time to stop. I figured I’m not going to be coming this way again. And, I’m leaving BC tomorrow.

But we did stop at Gyros Park in Osoyoos for a pee break. It was a nice park and Eve liked the grass.

Then we came upon this sign. I mean, really, why not let dogs use the park in June, July and August? So the girls peed and off we went.

Stopped at the top of the mountain at a lookout.

As I mentioned, I came here in 2019 but I was travelling west on the Crowsnest at that time. Now I’m heading east. But I still see places that I visited them. On of them was a coffee roaster but it was 7 am and they didn’t open until 8. However, checking Google, found Deadwood Junction in Greenwood had good coffee.

Fort Steele Historic Town is pet friendly. That was a deciding factor in choosing it. In 1961, the Province declared Fort Steele a Historic Park with a mandate to “preserve, present, and manage for the public benefit the historic settlement of Fort Steele…”. Fort Steele is a living history museum.

And boy, are pets ever welcome. Greta got a 5 minute massage from this volunteer. She was smiling ear to ear by the end of it.

“Fun fact: while many people see the animals on site, many overlook the mountainous costs associated with maintaining such an incredible breed of Clydesdales, not to mention all of our other 8 breeds of Heritage Livestock animals.” This is Cliff

The Fort Steele Clydesdales are descendants of the Black Clydesdales in Burnaby, BC. The Blacks were used in the prison farms but lost their job with the introduction of machinery. They came to Fort Steele 1970. They take the visitors around in the wagon. The charge for the wagon ride helps to defray their costs.

There are a lot of buildings to see. The RCMP area included officers quarters and work space.

The Wasa Hotel opened in 1967. It is a replica of the Wasa hotel in Wasa, BC.

The temperature was 19 degrees and their was a cool breeze. However, Eve was getting hot. I looked for some shade near the gazebo. On of the benefits Fort Steele has over Fort William in Thunder Bay is the dramatic background. Mountains with big, fluffy clouds add a certain pizazz to the place.

Behind the town is the Kootenay River

The logging wheels, at 9 feet high, were designed for horses to be able to transport logs over rough terrain.

The dry goods and dressmakers store. They had a wire fence around the display but had a little cutout area for taking photos.

The place is large. My only complaint, and I can compare this to Fort William, is there wasn’t a guide book nor were the explanations to all of the buildings. Fort William had a information sign for every building.

I took lots of photos but you get the idea. A good place to check out. The only crowd was the one around the gold panning demonstration. Otherwise it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

I stopped in at a music store and asked them if any banks were playing tonight. They showed me the poster for a punk show at the Cranbrook Hotel Pub. It featured an musician from Fernie – Anita Roloff, a band from Castlegear, BC – Toaster and a group from Hamilton, Ontario. I grew up in Hamilton so took this as a sign to go.

The place had the usual pub grub but it was cooked well. Had potato skins and buffalo wings (it was a punk night after all) along with a Fernie Brewing Co. red ale.

I asked the waitress if tonight was a big event. She said no. There big night is either Friday, or Wednesday. Wednesday is both wing night and Karaoke. Gotta have priorities I guess.

The ban Toaster were also at the table in front of me. The guy offered me a key ring fish with the band’s name on it.

I stayed and watched Anita. She was at the table in front of me and had a big, boisterous laugh. She took the stage with her guitar and started belting out in that same, strong voice. She referred to herself as post-punk but she had a Billy Bragg vibe for me.

Anita finished her set and I figured Toaster would go and get setup. Instead they went out to the back – probably to have a smoke. I couldn’t wait any longer. So went out the front. Sure enough, they were at the back door, smoking. The Cranbrook Hotel offers a courtesy car. I asked the drive to take me back to the hotel. I could have walked but if the have a courtesy car, why not?

I had been up since 3 am but knew I would get a good night’s sleep.