Nelson, British Columbia Canada

Discover Nelson, British Columbia: A Blend of History and Tourism

Nestled in the Selkirk Mountains on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, Nelson, British Columbia, is a city rich in history and culture. Known as "The Queen City," Nelson is renowned for its impressive collection of restored heritage buildings from its silver rush era. As one of the three cities forming the commercial and population core of the West Kootenay region, Nelson serves as the seat of the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

The Founding of Nelson, British Columbia

The city of Nelson is situated in the western Kootenay region of British Columbia, a part of the traditional territories of the Sinixt (or Lakes) and Ktunaxa (Kutenai) peoples. The discovery of gold and silver in 1867 led to a population boom, especially after the discovery of silver at nearby Toad Mountain in 1886. The city was incorporated in 1897 and named after Hugh Nelson, then Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.

Nelson, British Columbia in the Early 20th Century

The early 20th century saw the city flourish under the architectural influence of Francis Rattenbury, who designed chateau-style civic buildings made of granite. By the 1900s, Nelson boasted several fine hotels, a Hudson's Bay Company store, and an electric streetcar system. The local forestry and mining industries were well established, and the town built its own hydroelectric generating system.

The Transformation of Baker Street, Nelson

In the early 1980s, Nelson experienced an economic downturn when the local Kootenay Forest Products sawmill closed. To save downtown and Baker Street from blight, Nelson followed the example of Victoria and Vancouver, restoring the buildings to their original brilliance. By 1985, Baker Street was completely transformed, marking the beginning of Nelson's ongoing transition from a resource-based town to an arts and tourism town.

The Climate and Geography of Nelson, British Columbia

Nelson has a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold and snowy, while summers are warm and drier with cool temperatures during the night. The city's mountainous geography has confined growth to the narrow valley bottom, except for certain hillside structures.

Demographics of Nelson, British Columbia

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Nelson had a population of 11,106 living in 4,948 of its 5,314 total private dwellings, a change of 5.1% from its 2016 population of 10,572.

Arts and Culture in Nelson, British Columbia

Nelson is noted as a cultural centre, home to a large and diverse artisan community. The city has benefited from art-education opportunities for many decades, with institutions like the Kootenay School of Art and the independent artists-run Oxygen Art Centre contributing to the city's vibrant arts scene.

Attractions in Nelson, British Columbia

Nelson offers a variety of attractions, from the annual Artwalk to the Cottonwood Community Market. The city is also home to popular hiking trails like the Pulpit Rock Trail and offers a variety of winter activities at the Whitewater Ski Resort.

Transportation in Nelson, British Columbia

Highways 3A and 6 pass through Nelson, and scheduled commercial airline service is available at the West Kootenay Regional Airport in Castlegar. Public transit in Nelson is provided by the West Kootenay Transit System, and the city is served by the freight-only Kootenay Valley Railway.