Community Papers

Long-awaited Kootenay Lake history books arrive

Kootenay Outlet Reflections: 25th Year Anniversary Edition and Tom’s Gray Creek: A Kootenay Lake Memoir are now available.  - Submitted
Kootenay Outlet Reflections: 25th Year Anniversary Edition and Tom’s Gray Creek: A Kootenay Lake Memoir are now available.
— image credit: Submitted

Two eagerly-anticipated local history books are ready in time for Christmas.

Kootenay Outlet Reflections: 25th-Year Anniversary Edition is a reprinting and updating of an out-of-print but much-sought-after history of Balfour, Harrop, Procter, Sunshine Bay, Longbeach, and Queens Bay.

At over 750 pages, it’s probably the largest West Kootenay history book ever published. It includes an exact facsimile of the original 538-page work from 1988 (minus a message from then-Premier Bill Vander Zalm, which has been replaced with a new introduction) plus about 230 pages of additional content in a new section at the end. Committee chair Josh Smienk says they could have included even more, but the already-heavy tome would have been too big.

Among the new features are fold-out panoramas, like a picture of Queens Bay and the main lake taken in 1910 that shows the Aylmer house and no trees. Other photos that were only reproduced postage-stamp size in the original book — such as an interior shot of the Balfour hotel — have been blown up.

The book was originally published by the Procter-Harrop seniors society, who gave their blessing to the Balfour Business and Historical Association to create the new edition.

Most of the first print run of 200 is already spoken for, but copies are available in Nelson at Otter Books, Stewart’s News, and Touchstones, as well as the Gray Creek store, Procter store, Kokanee Park store, Balfour Superette, and Gill and Gift in Balfour. It sells for $60.

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For more than a century, Tom Lymbery’s family and store have been part of Gray Creek. Now Lymbery has produced Tom’s Gray Creek: A Kootenay Lake Memoir, which traces the community from its earliest days until the end of the Second World War and the noteworthy people who populated it.

Lymbery, a born storyteller and veteran history writer, has contributed to virtually every issue of the East Shore Mainstreet and its predecessor publications.

He’s responsible to one degree or another for all of the community’s quirky claims-to-fame, such as the metric free zone, the lost gold boulder, and the store’s justifiable boast as the most interesting you’ve ever seen (not to mention its unique address: Chainsaw Avenue).

Lymbery has also been the president of the local historical society since its inception and gives weekly guided tours in the summer of Gray Creek historical sites. Plus he stocks an impressive selection of Canadiana titles at the store — to which, at last, he can now add his own.

The book’s 220 pages include over 200 previously unpublished photos, artwork, and maps. It’s the first of two volumes — the second, due out next year, will take the story up to 1980.

It’s available at Otter Books in Nelson, the Balfour Superette, and, of course, at the Gray Creek store. It can also be ordered online at graycreekstore.com/toms-book or by phone at 250-227-9315. It sells for $30.

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