Located in the Central Kootenay Region, Castlegar sits at the confluence of the Columbia and the Kootenay Rivers. The Arrow Lakes, the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers flow in from the north. From Castlegar, the Columbia River flows south to the USA. Castlegar is the focus of no less than 9 dams controlling the water flow and generating electricity for all North Americans.
That the name originated in County Galway, Ireland where in the Parish of Castlegar there is a tiny village of the same name. Adjacent to the village is ‘Castlegar Castle’, now a ruin. The name ‘Castlegar’ comes from the Celtic Irish ‘An Caeslean Gearr’, or the short castle, since, as legend has it, no guest stayed for more than one night.
Castlegar is located in the border area between the Kutenai and the Interior Sailish Indian bands. Experts cannot agree where the Kutenai range ended, and where the Interior Salish began. There was much overlapping of cultural and territorial activity between the two Indian bands.
Weather in Castlegar
Approximately 7,300 people reside within the City of Castlegar. Some 15,450+ residents in the Greater Castlegar area (including Blueberry Creek, Brilliant, Genelle, Ootischenia, Pass Creek, Robson, Shoreacres, Tarrys and Thrums)
Long ago the Columbia River carved through the Selkirk Mountains forming a major valley. The ice age buried the river and mountain tops with glaciers. As the ice melted into the valley the Columbia River had, at times, many river channels. Zuckerberg Island may have been formed as a lag deposit within this channeling.
The island formation and unveiling after the ice age invited rich and diverse vegetation and wildlife communities. The relatively wet and mild climate supported this rich environment which attracted native inhabitants who prospered by the local bounty. These Indians settled on the island during the winter using their stored food reserves of salmon. Even as explorer David Thompson surveyed this area of the Columbia River in 1811, the Indians were still inhabiting the island during spring fishing and winter camp.
The attraction of the island drew Alexander Zuckerberg to establish his special island home. And even today, as a unique river front park, Zuckerberg Island remains not only a place of beauty but also a legacy to its historical past.
Aleexander Feodorovitch Zuckerberg born in Estonia from German parents was trained as a civil engineer. He taught mathematics in a Russian high school until the Revolution of 1917, then immigrated to Canada in 1921 with his wife, Alicia and son and daughter, Gilbert and Asta. In 1931 he came to Castlegar at the request of Peter Verigin II to teach the Doukhobor children. Shortly afterwards, he settled on the island and began building the Chapel House. He was a Tolstoyan and his lifestyle reflected his admiration for the great Russian writer, humanitarian, and pacifist.
Zuckerberg was as unique as his work, and is greatly admired to this day by many people, particularly the Doukhobors of the region.
Zuckerberg Island Futures
- Chapel House: A russian Orthodox country chapel and built to live on it, it was his art studio, classroom, and home.
- Suspension Bridge: Built as a field exercise project in 1984 by the 44th Field Engineer Squadron, the bridge was allowed to remain in place as a connection to the island. The 473 foot bridge was erected that spring with donated materials and won the coveted Canadian Militia Hertsberg Award.
- Kekuli: The island served as a winter base to a Lakes band of interior Salishan people from at least 3500 years ago to recent times. The pit house has the entrance through the center of the roof.(actually 2015 does not exist).
- Stump Woman: A seated woman carved from a tree stump the Zuckerberg’s best known work.
- Cemetery: Alexander Zuckerberg (1880-1961) and Alicia Zuckerberg (1896-1960)
- Medicine Rock: A big stone with magic healing powers for the Salishan people.
- Hiroshima Memorial: Garden memorial placed to remember the 40th anniversary of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.
Sculpturewalk is an outdoor exhibit of original sculptures by local and international artists, located on a pleasant walking tour in downtown Castlegar. Now in its sixth year, our 2015 program brings 32 works of art to the city. Viewers are encouraged to vote for their favourite sculpture via ballot, and the winner of The People’s Choice Award is purchased for permanent display in the City. Offering $25,000 in prize money annually, Sculpturewalk attracts world-class sculptural talent to our program. – See more at: http://www.sculpturewalkcastlegar.com/
Kootenay Gallery of Art, History & Science
This museum-standard public art gallery serves the entire West Kootenay region and has been in operation since 1977 presenting exhibitions of art, history and science. As well as drawing from national and international sources, the Kootenay Gallery presents the work of regional artists allowing the visitor to discover and experience a taste of the Kootenay art scene.
Although it’s a little hard to find, the experience is well worth the effort. Kootenay Gallery is located directly across from the Castlegar airport (follow the signs, only a minute off the beaten trail.) Hours: Wed – Sat. 10 am – 5 pm , Sun. noon – 5 pm. Open 7 days a week beginning in June. For more information please call (250) 365-3337.
Station Museum and Gift Shop
Enjoy this diverse collection of Castlegar’s heritage. The original CPR Station is now home of the Castlegar & District Heritage Society and is open 10 am to 5 pm , Monday to Saturday, throughout the year. During the months of July and August the museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm seven days a week. 400 – 13th Avenue , downtown Castlegar
Syringa Creek Provincial Park
This popular spot is the only fully developed provincial park on the south end of the Arrow Lakes Reservoir. It offers camping on the lake shore, with 61 campsites, 3 double campsites, beaches, fishing, nature walks and an adventure playground. Two nearby marinas are available for boat rentals and one has a store to satisfy most camping and fishing needs. Within the boundaries of this park you will find a variety of eco-systems, including Interior Douglas fir forest and one of the few remaining examples of a grasslands eco-system in the West Kootenay . You may se elk and deer at lower elevations and if you keep your eye on the upper rocky slopes you may catch sight of rocky mountain bighorn sheep.
Reservations for a campsite may be made by calling 1-800 689-9025 (Apr.- Sept. 30), or visit their website at www.westkootenayparks.com
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