Brisco, Edgewater and Spillimacheen

Profiles of three tourist communities in the Columbia Valley...

Bugaboo Lodge.

Bugaboo Lodge.

Nine kilometres north of Radium Hot Springs lies the hamlet of Edgewater. The old village provides many basic amenities such as a general store, gas station, post office, community hall, library, a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, a community park, open market and periodic variety shows in the summer. A little farther north is the fun nine-hole, par three Edgewater HiIltop Golf Course along Hwy 95. Spur Valley, just north, also features an excellent nine-hole course. Edgewater is one of the oldest communities in the valley. The hamlet was originally settled in the 1880s by Dr. Gaddes, a cattle rancher and veterinary surgeon from the prairies, when he established the Columbia Valley Ranches. From cattle and farming, the town’s focus turned to forestry when the Edgewater Saw Mill was built in the early 1900s. From the mill grew what is now Edgewater, which was incorporated in 1947. A feature attraction of the hamlet is its still operational flume, built in 1912. Edgewater now aims to nurture the original concept of a self-supporting agriculture and trades-oriented community. During the summer, every Saturday morning at 10 a.m., the Royal Canadian Legion building, (4858 Cordillera St.), is home to the Edgewater Open Market. Now in operation for more than 30 years, it is a great place to score some deals on locally-made arts, crafts and produce. Keeping in line with the rest of the valley communities, Edgewater also provides plenty of outdoor pursuit opportunities. Over the years, it has been the choice for those engaged in guiding, hunting, paddling and other forms of recreation. The arts and music are also represented in the village with the lovingly maintained Edgewater Community Hall where performances are held throughout the year. The valley’s two northernmost communities, Spillimacheen and Brisco saw their genesis in the mid 1800s with the first settlers heading into the area being, for the most part, miners. Later, the communities’ interests and economic bases shifted to agriculture. Because of their proximity to the Columbia River Wetlands and the abundant variety of bird species, the northern communities have hosted many events as part of the Wings Over the Rockies Bird Festival. Brisco is located 27 km north of Edgewater and is east of Bugaboo Glacier Provincial Park, which features wilderness hike-in camping and some of the best hiking and climbing opportunities in the world. Nearby is Bugaboo Falls and Canadian Mountain Holidays’ lovely old lodge overlooking the Bugaboo Spire. Amenities in Brisco include a general store established in 1911, postal service, gas station, towing service and ready access to the backcountry. With the Brisco ‘mill,’ officially called Brisco Wood Preservers Ltd., the village’s main economic stay lies in forestry and ranching. The area also provides easy access to canoeing and kayaking on the river and world-class climbing in the Jubilee Mountain area. Adjacent to these communities, Westside Road and Giant Mine Road provide plenty of mountain biking opportunities, while for hikers, Lower Bugaboo Falls Trail and Salmon Falls are also destinations worth visiting. The road leading across the wetlands takes you to Steamboat Mountain as well as Westside Road, with both eventually leading to the Cartwright Lakes fishing areas and Invermere. Thirteen kilometres north of Brisco is Spillimacheen, another access point to the Purcell Mountain backcountry. A few hundred feet down this road is an information kiosk on the Columbia River and its sprawling wetlands. The kiosk, established by the Friends of the Columbia River Wetlands Society, was officially unveiled during the 4th annual Wings Over the Rockies Bird Festival by official patron Robert Bateman, the internationally revered wildlife artist. The society is dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of the Columbia River Wetlands. Spillimacheen is serviced by a post office, gas station and a number of small businesses, with an economy largely based on farming and ranching. St. Mark’s Anglican Church celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1995. The drive between Golden and Invermere, with Spillimacheen the halfway point, follows the Columbia River and its wetlands and is one of the most beautiful 130 km drives you will ever take.

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