Signage on the bank of the Columbia River describes the navigation of the river by the explorer David Thompson. In 1807, he paddled by what is now known as Golden, with his wife and children – quite the family outing!
The first settlement was established in 1882, while Major AB Rogers was searching for a route through the Selkirk Mountains for the Canadian Pacific Railway's transcontinental railway. Golden City became a base camp for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) as it extended its line further and further west. After 1885, with the railway in operation, the town abbreviated its name to just "Golden," but began to grow in both size and prosperity.
Golden's "Swiss Village"
In 1899, Eduard Feuz Sr and Christian Haesler arrived from Switzerland to work for the CPR as mountain guides. The "Swiss Village," or "Edelweiss" as it is sometimes known, was built in 1911 by the CPR specifically for its Swiss guides. The village, which is in an excellent state of preservation, is located 1.5km/1mi west of the Golden highway interchange.
Through most of the 20th century, the forest industry was the backbone of the local economy. The Louisiana Pacific mill and the Canadian Pacific Railway continue to be significant employers in town but, true to its roots, the town is once again embracing its connection with the mountains.
Adventure tourism and the services required to support it have seen dramatic growth in the past few years. Choose from a range of active options including skiing, backcountry skiing, mountain biking and river rafting. The recent and continuing expansion of the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is changing the face of a town that, although it has retained its industrial base, is re-creating itself as a world-class mountain destination.
Still, while a multimillion dollar tourism infrastructure is being developed and thrill-seeking visitors are paragliding overhead, the Golden Horseshoe Club continues to maintain its dozen or so horseshoe pitches in a grove of trees by the Kicking Horse River – a testament to the quirkiness of this Kootenay Rockies town.