Kaslo, British Columbia

It’s the nearest town northeast to where we live. Okay, internet says it’s not a town. It’s a village. The oldest community in the Kootenays.

What are the Kootenays?

These…mountains. Can you see them shrouded in fog?

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The thrift shop occupies the old fire hall. It wasn’t open this day.

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This particular day, we had a twelfth birthday to celebrate. So the birthday girl chose her lunch venue…the Blue Belle Bakery. It reminds me of that Quebec City bistro we visited on our first married Valentine’s weekend in the walled city. But people speak English here. The art on the walls I have coveted for my home since we first passed through this place a year and a half ago.

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I was here on my own birthday. It was the Goddess combo that charmed me. The spinach, caramelized onion, red pepper, tomato and feta cheese, baked in a spelt bun with pesto and olive tapenade. They had me at ‘tapenade’.

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One of its residents was awaiting our arrival to the local floral shop. We had to stop in, just to pet this fellow.

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And we found a non-living creature in another gift shop. Who knew there were giant sized googly eyes…oh wait, that’s my nickname. I mean Beanie Boos.

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Ahh, love at first sight. (We’d come back a week later to adopt him).

All communities this size have a transportation artery, that’s why they came into existence. This one has a tiny air strip, but with all that fog, I imagine it’s not always open. Kaslo is on the west end of the Kootenay Lake so it was also originally a waterway destination. To drive through here is truly off the beaten path. Well worth the mountain views, especially if you like heli-skiing, back country camping or enjoy hot springs.

This is where Osprey live, not Eagles.

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The Kaslo Hotel reminds us of its World War 2 significance. This was one of the local little towns that housed Japanese in the Internment. Far away from everything. It’s sobering past is remembered by huge poster plaques on its outdoor walls. New Denver, a nearby town, hosts the Japanese Internment museum. A haunting history.

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There’s a strip of shops highlighting the artistic nature of a Kootenay resident. Gift shops, delis, the best pizza I’ve had this side of Italy.

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The sweetest little home shop called Willow keeps me coming back. I suggested to the proprietor that the shop reminded me of Home Sense and she said, “Yup, except with all the stuff that people want, not the leftovers people don’t want”. I asked if they’d considered selling coffee in the back. I was told they had considered that, but since the businesswomen of Main Street would tamper with their business, and these are their friends, they’d rather not usurp business activity. Small town. Friends everywhere you go.

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Every time I come in this shop, I’m reminded that I ‘need’ a quilt; and if I decide I ‘need’ bamboo sheets, this is the place to come. Since my style is ‘Grandma English cottage’, I have found my destination design shop.

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Before I leave, I’m told that if I ever need a pit stop for the kids, a bathroom stop, I can always come in through the back.

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This part of British Columbia might not be a sun-lovers favourite if you’re here in February. But the charm, the friendliness, the penchant for casual, also known as ‘running on Kootenay time’ (oh, and the coffee), that’ll keep you coming back.

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