In September and early October 2020, Team Timid Turtle (Paul and Diana) took an epic four-week road trip through the Kootenay region of British Columbia. This is one in a series of illustrated updates on the trip.
Home base for the first week of our Kootenay road trip was the Springer Creek RV Park and Campground in Slocan. We booked the campsite knowing nothing about it or about Slocan but interested to learn.
We discovered that while Slocan is often referred to as “Slocan City” it has not been a city since 1958. Like many settlements in the valley, The Village of Slocan was established to support silver mining. It boomed for years, then became quiet as the mines closed. In the 1940s it hosted internment camps for forcibly relocated Japanese-Canadians (as recounted in yesterday's post on New Denver) and was home to a sawmill owned by a procession of companies until it was closed and demolished in 2013. Since the sawmill — the village’s largest employer — closed, the population has dwindled to fewer than 300 souls and today the moniker “Slocan City” is used only to differentiate it from other, nearby communities such as Slocan Park and South Slocan.
Although fallen on hard times, there is hope for Slocan. The community has some exceptional amenities that could serve as the launching pad for a bright future in tourism: its recently redeveloped beach, boat launch and waterfront on Slocan Lake, the northern trailhead for the Slocan Valley Rail Trail, its status as the Gateway to Valhalla Provincial Park and, yes, the municipally owned RV park we enjoyed visiting. Even better, the municipality recently announced plans to buy the abandoned sawmill site and consult residents about its future use.
Relaxing on the waterfront on a warm, late-summer evening, it was hard not to be optimistic about Slocan’s future and hard to imagine a more picturesque location