Kaslo and Area Chamber of Commerce
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History
Village of Kaslo

Village of Kaslo

The Village of Kaslo boasts a rich and colourful history. Like many communities in the Kootenay Lake area, Kaslo developed due to the mining boom of the early 1890s. In 1888 and 1889 George Buchanan and George Kane staked timber claims. As mining activity took off in the surrounding area, part of the timber claim was surveyed as a town site - Kane´s Landing. George Kane formed the Kaslo Kootenay Land Company to sell off lots to incoming miners drawn by the area´s rich silver deposits. Kaslo was incorporated as a city on August 14, 1893. It quickly became a thriving silver ore mining and shipping boomtown, boasting a population of 3,000. Kaslo was the first city to be incorporated in the Kootenay´s, the 7th in BC.

In 1894 devastating floods and fires ravaged the town, but Kaslo rebuilt and continued to push forward. The following year, a new railway was built over the pass to Sandon, and within two years Kaslo boasted telephone and electrical service, a brewery, a cigar factory, and a full complement of hotels, bars, and brothels.

As the Kootenay mining industry waned in the early years of the 20th century, the Canadian Pacific Railway began to promote the area as a fruit-growing oasis. English settlers responded to the CPR´s campaign, planting apple and cherry trees. Kootenay fruit was soon recognized as some of the finest in the world, taking prizes at prestigious international competitions. Crate after crate of rosy apples and plum sized cherries were loaded onto the steamships that connected the Lake´s shoreline communities, bound for export around the world, and supplying their growers with healthy, dependable profits.
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In 1933, a devastating virus known as “little cherry disease” began to spread through the Kootenay cherry orchards. Transmitted by the apple mealybug, the disease caused the cherry trees to produce small fruit with pale colour and poor flavour. With the advent of World War II, Kootenay orchard-growers suffered another blow. Demand for “luxury” fruits such as apples declined dramatically. In addition, the growers faced increasing and overwhelming competition from well-located American growers to the south and the Okanagan in BC. Fruit-growing in the Kootenay area was no longer a commercially viable industry. But the lush Kootenay forests provided the logging industry with a new economic viability and have sustained Kaslo and area until the early 21st Century.

Kaslo´s historic Village Hall was completed in 1898, and remains one of only two wooden municipal buildings still in use as a seat of government in Canada. This historically intact building is recognized by the federal government as a National Historic Site. The same year, the sternwheeler S.S. Moyie was launched and provided service between Kootenay Landing at the south end of Kootenay Lake and Nelson. In 1906, when the faster S.S. Kuskanook took over that run, the Moyie began service to Kaslo and north Kootenay Lake. This beautifully restored vessel, the oldest intact and historically archived sternwheeler, now graces the downtown shoreline and is also a National Historic Site.

Kaslo´s population declined after the silver boom went bust and it was reincorporated as a Village on January 1, 1959. Today the village maintains a population of approximately 1000.
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