Every small town has something they like to say is special and sets them apart from others. The Village of Radium Hot Springs is no different! By the nature of our name alone, we are set apart by the hot springs that we have all come to know so well and look forward to basking in after a long day of work or play. But there is something else that, as Mayor, I have had more conversations about, and that is our cherished sign “The Mountains Shall Bring Peace to the People.” The partial phrase is from Psalm 72, a psalm of Solomon. Back in the 1920s, James Bernard Harkin, known as the father of National Parks, was a huge promoter of tourism and the National Parks and all they had to offer. In 1923 as the first road built across the Rockies was opened, Mr. Harkin erected an A-framed archway for cars to pass through as the entrance to Kootenay National Park. His personal motto of “The Mountains Shall Bring Peace to the People” was inscribed on the archway. Thirty years later, with a much greater volume of traffic, the archway was torn down and the motto was forgotten for years. Phyllis Jackson, a long-time resident of Radium and a first time Council member, remembered seeing the sign in old family albums and got the ball rolling to once again resurrect it as we know it today.
Last month, the sign finally got a new home and hopefully will last there for many decades to come. The reason for my flashback in history is what the sign actually means to us all. On a weekly basis, I hear people say that when they drive by the sign they automatically feel the stress fall off their shoulders. Mr. Harkin tirelessly promoted the area as a place where people could experience amazing scenery and find a sense of balance. That has not changed even today in the fast-paced world we have created. We had Radium Days this weekend and it was wonderful walking the streets chatting with folks from so many different places. Everyone was happy! The weather co-operated, fabulous old cars were in town to remind us of our younger days, and no one was in a rush to go anywhere! Sometimes we need to stop, think, and remind ourselves how lucky we are to live here. I have never been busier, but I have never been less stressed! Fresh air, cool mountain mornings and a sign that constantly reminds me that “the mountains shall bring peace to the people” are all the inspiration we need to get up in the morning with a smile and a positive attitude.
Dee Conklin is the mayor of the Village of Radium Hot Springs and a Regional District of East Kootenay director for the Columbia Valley.