Kootenay National Park

Park Chronology

Historic Milestones

early 1700s Horses reach Aboriginal people of the area.
1780 Fur trading starts to have an impact, both the Ktunaxa and the Shuswap people cross the Rockies, trading with the Stoney's and hunting buffalo.
1781 Smallpox epidemic; future epidemics also take their toll.
1807 David Thompson of the Northwest Company crosses Howse Pass and comes up the Columbia to build Kootenae House near present-day Invermere.
1821 Hudson's Bay Company absorbs its rival, the North West Company.
1841 The first recorded non-native visitor to this area was Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. He came into the Vermilion River drainage via the pass later named after him, travelled down the Kootenay River and crossed to the Columbia through what is now called Sinclair Pass.
1841 Following in Simpson's footprints was James Sinclair. Sinclair, although not a member of the Hudson's Bay Company, had agreed to guide 23 families from Fort Garry (now Winnipeg) to Walla Walla, Washington for the Company. Sinclair came through White Man Pass and eventually through the pass that now bears his name. He may have been the first non-native to soak in the hot springs.
1845 Father Pierre de Smet follows Sinclair's route in reverse by going up Sinclair Creek, crossing the Kootenay River, and following the Cross River up to White Man Pass. There he supposedly erected a small cross, which led to the naming of the river.
1858-1860 The Palliser Expedition, is sent to western Canada by the British Government to investigate the potential of opening up to settlement and to determine the practicality of building a trans-continental railroad. James Hector, a 23 year-old medical doctor and geologist with the expedition explores the northern end of Kootenay giving names to many of the geological features such as Simpson Pass. He also followed the upper Kootenay River to its source.
1867 The British North America Act is passed by the British Government creating the Dominion of Canada.
1871 British Columbia joins Confederation on the promise of a railroad to the Pacific. Sir Sanford Fleming is put in charge of railway surveys. Walter Moberley is given the task to find a way across the Selkirks and the Rockies.
1880 John McKay stakes a homestead along the Columbia River in the 1880s. His claim happened to include Radium Hot Springs.
1884 Prairie Buffalo herds now wiped out.
1885 Canada's first trans-continental railway is completed. The last spike is driven at Craigellachie, at Eagle Pass near Revelstoke. Hot springs near present day Banff set aside as Canada's first National Park Reserve.
1890 Roland Stuart, an English squire, receives a crown grant for the 160 acres surrounding the Radium hot springs and pays $1 an acre.
1911 A British medical journal suggests that there might be radium in the hot springs. The first road is built through Sinclair Canyon to the springs and beyond, almost to Sinclair Pass. J.B. Harkin is appointed Commissioner of the Dominion Parks Branch. Charles Crook claims homestead in Kootenay Valley.
1913 Researchers at McGill University prove that radium is indeed present in the hot springs.
1914 A road is completed from the Bow River Valley in Banff to Vermilion Pass. The original concrete bathing pool and bathhouse, financed by multi-millionaire St. John Harmsworth is constructed at Radium Hot springs.
1918 Major forest fire to the east of Sinclair Summit along the west slopes of the Kootenay River Valley.
1919 Banff-Windermere Road Agreement signed: the federal government agrees to complete the road; the provincial government agrees to convey a strip of land on either side of the road for a national park.
1920 Kootenay Dominion Park is established on April 21.
1922 The boundaries of the park are amended. The hot springs and other property in the vicinity are expropriated by the government. The CPR builds a lodge and cabins at Vermilion Crossing.
1923 The Banff-Windermere Highway is officially opened on June 30. The first park administration building is constructed as part of a gateway complex. The original Radium Hot Springs townsite is surveyed next to the hot springs and the first hotel erected. Work on Red Rock Campground begins.
1925 Radium Hot Springs Lodge is opened to the public.
1926 The largest forest fire (6,000 hectares) in the park's history sweeps through the Vermilion River Valley. Four tourists lose their lives in the blaze.
1926-27 Warden stations are constructed at Kootenay Crossing and Marble Canyon.
1927 A more elaborate bathhouse is built at the springs and the pool is enlarged. Fay Hut completed by the Alpine Club of Canada.
1928 The first topographic map of Kootenay Park is completed. Predators gain protection in national parks.
1930 The National Parks Act is passed in Parliament. It states "The parks are hereby dedicated to the people of Canada for their education and enjoyment...and such parks shall be maintained and made use of so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations".
1931 Blakley Bungalow Camp opens.
1933 Chinook salmon make their last journey up the Columbia River and to the foot of the falls in Sinclair Canyon. The run was stopped by the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state. Auto camp established at Crook's Meadows.
1934 Townsite electrical generating plant is established at the hot springs.
1943 Two mining claims still in good standing in park.
1946 New boundaries and area of Kootenay National Park are confirmed by an act of parliament.
1947 Reconstruction of the highway commences.
1948 Bathhouse at Radium Hot Springs destroyed by fire. Campgrounds built at McLeod Meadows and Dolly Varden Creek. Addison's Bungalows open for business.
1951 New Aquacourt and pool at Radium Hot Springs completed.
1952 Reconstruction and hard-surfacing of Banff-Windermere Highway completed.
1956 Second reconstruction and realignment of Banff-Windermere Highway commences. Work begins to move western entrance from vicinity of the hot springs to the present location. Government acquires Crooks Meadows. Mt. Farnham Bungalow Camp constructed.
1960s Most of the buildings and development in the Radium Hot Springs area are cleared away to return the area to a more natural environment.
1962 New park administrative building completed and occupied. Red Rock Campground closed. Redstreak Campground opened to public.
1964 Huge earthquake occurs in Alaska and muddies water from the hot springs for about 10 days. Temperature of water temporarily decreases from 45 o C to 39 o C.
1965 Reconstruction of Banff-Windermere Highway completed to park boundary. Lower end of Sinclair Canyon widened and creek contained in concrete tunnel under road. Iron Gates Tunnel built. New Radium Hot Springs Lodge erected and opened.
1967-68 Major renovations at the hot springs mean removal of the old pool and installation of a collecting system for all the hot water sources.
1968 A fire burns 2500 hectares at Vermilion Pass.
1973 Last year for stocking of trout in park waters.
1983 Kokanee salmon are discovered spawning in Kootenay River for the first time. They came upstream from Koocanusa Reservoir on the Montana-B.C. border.
1985 The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site is established. It includes Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks. (In 1990, Mount Hamber, Mount Robson and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Parks were added. Rededication ceremony for the park held at Kootenay Crossing. Time capsule unveiled.
1988 Amendments are made to the National Parks Act making ecological integrity the priority in park planning.
1992 The Place of Silence Peace Park on the Redstreak Campground Trail is dedicated.
1994 Parks Canada moves from the department of Environment to the Department of Canadian Heritage. Major bear research is initiated on both sides of the divide. The five-year study is in co-operation with provincial governments.
1999 Parks Canada becomes the Parks Canada Agency, a special operating agency of the federal government, reporting directly to the Heritage Minister.
2001 Canada National Parks Act (CNPA) proclaimed on February 19, 2001
The CNPA states that "maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes, shall be the first priority of the Minister when considering all aspects of the management of parks."