Ski Northern BC this Winter
For a dusting of powder and charm.
When “The 100 Best Small Art Towns In America” was published—which includes Canada’s best, too—it gave Nelson, BC top billing for Canada.
The publishers got it right.
When I first arrived in Nelson, I saw the creativity, not just in storefronts (though there was that a’plenty), but also in the people themselves. On any given day in Nelson, you’ll find an eclectic crew – folks who express themselves in their street music; by creating varied dishes for the many restaurants around town; in the clothing they make, sell, and wear; and even through the words they place in the locally-produced magazines and books.
This small town of 10,000 people create some of the most unique works I’ve laid eyes on (and tasted). Even after living in an urban area of two million people in the States and visiting many artistic communities, Nelson is, per capita, astounding.
Walk down Baker Street—the main thoroughfare of town—and you’ll see what I mean: cafe walls are plastered with local photography and paintings, stores sell hand-wrought furniture and folksy paper cut-out art, bakeries whip buttercream deliciously high on cupcakes and bake golden-hued breads, buskers perform with vocal and instrumental skill. The sensory overload spills down adjoining streets, only stopped by Kootenay Lake’s shoreline.
Events throughout the year make good use of all the talent, too. In summer, street markets happen twice weekly and there’s a monthly evening street festival with music, crafts, and food carts; in the winter, Whitewater Ski Resort’s Winter Carnival shows off intricately carved, larger-than life snow sculptures and local bands—not to mention the award-winning dishes their culinary crew cooks up for hungry skiers the entire ski season. And throughout the year, Touchstones Nelson – Museum of Art and History rotates through exhibitions of local creatives, capturing the diverse landscape of the arts represented in the region.
A favourite stop of mine is Craft Connection. I came upon it as I was hunting for a unique gift last Christmas during a last minute shopping run on Baker Street. Craft Connection, a mix between gallery and boutique, is a cooperative of Kootenay-region artisans who specialize in wood, leather, metal, clay, glass, fibre, wax and jewellery. Walking through, you’ll see the materials used in uncommon works; everything from delicately-patterned jewelry, to home lighting accessories, to detailed period-style clothing.
Not that I’d want this shared with the recipients of my Christmas gifts, but I spent more time in Craft Connection mulling over which piece to wrap up and place under the tree than I did selecting the entirety of gifts on the rest of my list.
There is so much to explore in Nelson —and this is just a sampling of the Kootenay-region artisans who display their works in Canada’s “Best Small Art Town”.
Skiing & Snowboarding
10 days / 1300 km (808 mi)
Visit eight ski resorts on this road trip through the Kootenay Rockies.
10 days / 3000 km (1864 mi)
A new rider's journey on iconic BC highways.