The Windermere Valley Pioneer Museum is a must-visit destination for those who love all things historical, for families looking for educational adventures even the youngest members will enjoy, for those who appreciate old documents and photographs – for just about everyone.
Also known as the Windermere Valley Museum, it was established in the 1960s by the Windermere District Historical Society to acquire museum artifacts and archival records of the Windermere Valley. Moved to its present location in 1976, the pioneer museum is lovingly tended by the dedicated volunteer members of the Windermere District Historical Society, assisted by a part-time curator and summer students. Visit to get a hands-on look at the history and settlers of the Columbia Valley BC from Canal Flats to Brisco.
- Some mobility barriers exist but still lots to see
- Washrooms (accessibility limited)
- Picnic tables
- Flower boxes
- Bad weather shelter
- Pets are welcome on leash (please tidy up after your pet)
Slideshow & Featured Image Photos supplied by WVHS
On the property of the Windermere Valley Museum, there are several historic buildings, each one furnished with artifacts to give you a taste of life in the pioneer days of the Columbia Valley.
The Station – A train derailment damaged the log CPR station in Athalmer. It was moved to its present location and rebuilt through donations from the community and a lot of hard work by a group of volunteers. Officially opened on June 23, 1979, the Station is the main museum building today. There you will find an extensive archives, a visitors display area, offices and meeting spaces plus a large historic photographic collection and changing exhibits.
The Brisco Schoolhouse – The original building was donated by the Mitchell family of Brisco.
The Notary Building / General Store – One of the original buildings in Athalmer, it was donated by a group of Calgary lawyers.
The Pioneer Cabin – It was the first building acquired by the museum and was officially opened by MLA James Chabot in May 1965. The cabin had been built in 1942 by Charles Crook on the Crook homestead in Kootenay National Park as one of several tourist cabins on the site. Currently, the building holds a display of many pioneer household items.
The Blakley Cabin – Donated by the Blakley family, this building was part of a rustic tourist resort called ‘Blakley’s Bungalow’ near Radium Hot Springs pool in Kootenay National Park.
Lord’s Cabin – This was donated by the Lord and Wattie famiies and moved from its original location adjacent to Kootenay National Park in Radium Hot Springs. It is a “pan-abode” cabin.
The Legion Building – Originally the Legion Clubroom, it had been built as a memorial to the veterans of WWI. It was purchased by the historical society from the School Board for $1.00. The building originally housed display cases donated by families of early day settlers such as the Walkers, Soles, Watkins, Tegarts, McKays, Blakleys and Clelands.
The Mining Cabin – Known as the “Jim Dilworth cabin,” it was moved from Athalmer. Its exhibits are all related to the area’s mining history.
On the property, you will also find an original ice house, a geocache and a dugout canoe crafted by an early member of the First Nations Shuswap Band.
Preserving the history of the Upper Columbia Valley, the Windermere Valley Museum archives contain all types of history of the area and are housed in a waterproof, fireproof vault. Included are diaries, letters, business files, minute books and other archival material documenting the history of local first nations and pioneers.
Also in the collection are old maps and surveys of the region. An extensive collection of photographs would be of possible interest to researchers.
You’ll find the Windermere Valley Museum in the quaint town of Invermere BC, sitting in a beautiful parkland atop a hill overlooking the Columbia River wetlands.
Whether you are driving from the north or the south on Highway 93/95, turn west onto Athalmer Road at ‘the crossroads’ across from Tim Horton’s. Two traffic lights later, up the hill toward the downtown business section of Invermere and just past the turnoff to Panorama Drive, make a right turn onto a gravel road at the Flags of Canada display.
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