Radium Hot Springs is at the gateway to the Kootenay National Park (KNP) which has long been an east-west travel route. It is believed that the area encompassed by the park, some 1406 sq. km., was traveled on a seasonal basis by First Nations. The Ktunaxa regularly crossed the Rockies via Whiteman Pass, Simpson Pass and Vermilion Pass to hunt buffalo on the plains.
The first non-native people in the area were trappers and fur traders with the first recorded visit by Sir George Simpson in 1841. Hard on Simpson's heels was James Sinclair who came over Whiteman Pass leading a cavalcade of Red River settlers en route to Walla Walla, Washington. In 1858 geologist James Hector led a branch of the Palliser expedition into the north end of the Kootenay area.
By the early 1900s local businessmen were lobbying for a road linking Windermere to Banff. Eventually the road was completed by the federal government in exchange for title to a strip of land on either side of the route. In 1920, this land was set aside as Kootenay National Park.The best known built up area in the region is Radium Hot Springs which is just at the south entrance to the park through the narrow gorge of the Sinclair Canyon. Although it has a reputation for being perhaps the petunia and bighorn sheep capital of BC, Radium is most famous for which it was named, the healing, hot water springing from the earth and captured in a huge soaking pool.
Known internationally as a resort town, it has more than 30 motels and hotels, all geared to providing accommodation for the thousands of visitors who pass through every year. They arrive on one of three highways, Hwy 95 south from Golden, Hwy 93 southwest of the TransCanada Highway between Lake Louise and Banff, or north on 93/95 coming in from Montana and Idaho. The Village of Radium Hot Springs with a current population of 750 year round residents, was incorporated in 1992. It remains one of the province's fastest growing communities and has become a four season resort town.
Not counted among the village's 750 residents are some 200 members of a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep band. Few other communities can match Radium for the numbers of sheep. Built on part of the band's winter range, Radium and valley residents have learned to live and work side-by-side with the sheep and appreciate the blue-listed species.
The sheep are commonly seen in the village only from late autumn to mid-spring.Like most valley communities, Radium has an interesting past. Human beings have been making the most of the healing waters for hundreds of years, beginning with the First Nations people who used Sinclair Pass for access between the Columbia and Kootenay valleys. In 1920, when its population consisted of a handful of construction workers and lumberjacks, accommodations neither so plentiful nor civilized as they are today. Two dollars a week bought you space shared with strangers in a tent with a bed made of clean hay, illuminated by candles stuck in empty whisky bottles. Use of the hot pool cost 50 cents or $1 a day for as many soaks as you wanted.
In 1923 an analyst from the Canadian government did some tests that showed the waters were radioactive, hence the name Radium. It is believed that the water is therapeutic, particularly for arthritis sufferers. Even for completely healthy people, the water is certainly relaxing and soothing and the view provided from the pools of the red walls of Sinclair Canyon is sheer beauty.
Geographical formations are the order of the area, as witnessed by the redrock wall and the dramatic crack which you pass through upon entering Radium.The village of Radium is also now synonymous with golf as it boasts two top-rated 18-hole golf courses; the Springs at Radium and the Radium Resort. Radium is also the gateway to a will Purcell Mountain backcountry rife with recreational opportunities.
.Michael Russell.Your Independent guide to Canada Vacation.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_Russell.
By: Michael Russell