Introduction - Discovering the Kootenays-A Visual Art and Design Cultural Heritage Project

This project was started in 1999. It evolved from Historical research into the origins of community names of the Kootenays during visits to archives and museums throughout the Columbia Basin as therapy and convalescence from disabilities. Apart from providing visual and written information, many kind museum and archival staff provided an insider's understanding of how Modern Culture, Tourism and Economics have become inseparable considerations in delivering feasible services and programs to the public.

Building on past experience in designing promotion material and souvenirs for tourism, the project became refocused on heritage and economic development. Courses on Natural and Cultural Heritage taken at Selkirk College provided more detailed analyses of marketing trends in tourism and economic development in Canada and USA.

A year later, bed-bound and diagnosed with Primary Sjogren's Syndrome, secondary Fibromyalgia and several auto immune disorders, history books became my guide to the past. Muriel Paquette of the Riondel Reading Room, brought me a copy of Jack Nisbet's superb book 'Sources of the River'.

This book not only uplifted me spiritually, but gave me a new understanding of my direction as an artist. From this point forth - Interpreting the past could help make sense of the present, and in some small way offer guidance to the future.

Jack Nisbet's maps and descriptions of David Thompson's explorations in the Kootenays, kept reminding me of the Gulf Islands in the Georgia Strait. It would appear to me that in David Thompson's time the Kootenays were like the Gulf Islands in reverse. They are lands surrounded by water, whereas the Kootenays are waters surrounded by land. The Aboriginals in both situations devised a convenient and efficient means of water transport to meet their needs for hunting, fishing, gathering berries, trading and social interactions. The waterways were a highly respected life force.

In the Kootenays the introduction of the horse, the gun, liquor, the quest for furs and David Thompson's explorations all paved the way to discovering the Kootenays' resources, and the subsequent influx of opportunists, exploiters, capitalists, saints and sinners, subjects of so many dedicated historians, writers and first hand-accounts from today's characters that have become my inspirational force.

Goals of the Project.

The Goals of the project are to preserve and promote the Cultural Heritage of the Kootenays to an expanded audience out in the community.

This is being achieved, by publicly exhibiting the original works of art in galleries, and making series of prints available to non-profit organizations for display at no charge (except transportation); developing this website, initiating artist-led visual projects; public speaking and by making arrangements for appropriate commercial and educational use of the images in partnerships with private or public sponsoring groups interested in enhancing cultural heritage and tourism.

Interested parties are encouraged to contact the artist.

Focus of the Project

The focus of the project, using text and visual media is the History of the Kootenays (Canada and USA), and in particular the discovery of the Columbia water system and natural resources that lead to the forming of our present day Communities and Corporations.

The project is in four parts: Part 1. The Aboriginals and strangers in their land. Part 2.Characters and Communities of the Kootenays. Part 3. Corporate Confluence.Interconnected corporations of the Kootenays. Part 4. Immigration and settlement

Connections between the Characters, Communities and Corporations are explored within the context of the history of the industrial development of the Kootenays.

In this ongoing project, all communities within the Kootenay Region of the Columbia Basin will eventually be represented.

The first 44 images of part 1. and 2. were first displayed publicly in April, 2005 at the VISAC Gallery, Trail. The exhibit included colour drawings, mural and stained glass designs,and a collection of oil paintings, mural designs, victorian dioramas, focusing on Trail as an historical backdrop to The Centennial of Trail's Colombo Lodge, and leading up to the Centennial of Cominco in 2006.


In 2004, Parts 1 and 2 of this project received a grant from The Trail District Arts Council under the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance's project funding to Artists. Part 3 - Corporate confluence - Our heritage in stained glass received a follow-up Grant in 2005.

A very special thanks to The Trail and District Arts Council, The Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, and the Columbia Basin Trust for their continuing support.
Sincere gratitude for encouragement and assistance to the City of Trail Archives, Jamie Forbes, Sarah Benson, Staff and Volunteers, Trail Historical Society, City of Trail Library, Bernie Mullen and Theresa Southam from Selkirk College, Mary Lowe, Muriel Paquette and the Riondel Reading Room, Shawn Lamb, Jenny Cowell, Courtney Palsson, Nola Landucci, Gene and Norm Lenardon, Buddy Devito, Anne Marie Gagliani,- Colombo Lodge Archives.Many thanks to Kate Skye, Ray Masleck, Trail Daily Times, Anne Degrace- Articulate magazine, The N. C. Monthly/Colville, The Beaver Valley Library and special thanks to The Directors, Staff and Volunteers of the Greater Trail Visual Arts and Crafts Centre/Visac Community Art Gallery.