Our small bakery makes it's home in the quaint little town of Kaslo, which is surrounded by the beautiful, majestic mountains of southern British Columbia, Canada. The region is called the West Kootenays, and is located in the southeast corner of the Province. The Purcell Mountain Range is to the east across the Kootenay Lake, and the Selkirk Mountain Range is on our side of the lake. Kootenay Lake is over 100 km long, and averages three kilometers in width; the unique part is that it never freezes, even in the coldest of winter. There is very little valley bottom land: the mountains start pretty well from the lake and rise to a height between 2000-2600 meters (6500-8500 feet), with the odd one getting close to 3000 meters (9800 feet).
The downtown core of the village, which used to be a city up until 1959, is located on the Kaslo River delta, right beside the lake, and as far as the eye can see, there is nothing but mountaintops with snowfields and glaciers surrounding us. This can easily lead to the feeling of being in a remote, out-of-the-way place - which, in one way, we are - but in another, we have many of the modern amenities expected in our modern world. Our village has retained many of its small pioneer town charms, and is valued by most villagers in that respect.
We have a healthcare clinic with long term care facilities, an ambulance station, modern school facilities (Kindergarten to Grade 12), a drug store, a grocery store, and many places to eat. For recreational purposes, we have many outdoor activities that are synonymous for an area predominantly mountainous. The smell of adventure is always drifting in the air for the ones seeking it. Other recreational sports include a golf course, a hockey arena, and also two sheets of ice for curling. We are also getting famous for our backcountry powder skiing: the deeper the better, and this is usually accessed via helicopter or snow cat, with hut arrangements.
The mountains are steep and the valleys are tight; to these characteristics we owe the preservation of our pristine backcountry terrain that is our real treasure trove. Until the discovery of silver ore in the mountains, most circumvented the area because of its rugged topography, which made it difficult to travel through and explore. But eventually, as the hills echoed the discovery of silver by the first prospectors, this town and many others sprang up like mushrooms. The Kaslo River delta was a natural staging place, and the city of Kaslo was born in a very short time in the 1890's. Miners and business people arrived daily and entertainment wasn't far behind: wine, women, and song followed quickly. The new mines started producing in a short time, and before long, this area was the capital of silver mining in all of Canada. The backcountry was teeming with prospectors, adventurers, immigrants with diverse backgrounds, and would-be millionaires. The city of Kaslo was born out of these tumultuous times in 1893. It became a typical boomtown in the wild western spirit of the frontiers. With the crash of the stock market in the nineteen thirties, the exhaustion of the silver ore bodies, as well as silver slipping to record low prices, the heydays of the boomtown ended. The population dwindled rapidly and the people that had developed an attachment to the city and its surrounding stayed behind; these became, in time, the local community.
A brief time of orchard development followed in the fifties, but only lasted shortly: disease abruptly eliminated the brief economic recovery. Amazingly, cherries were exported away to as far as England, and fetched top prices.
The only natural resources left, are the magnificent trees that grow in the humid valleys of the Kootenays. The logging industry has and still is providing the bread and butter for the village of Kaslo.
The hard rock mines never again played an important economic part, and all are closed down and abandoned. Most are now overgrown and there is little evidence of the once booming mining industry that opened this part of the country. In time, Nature has reclaimed what was hers before. With all of the hustle and bustle over with, it has become the place of choice for many people in search of a quieter lifestyle, than those given to city dwellers.
The natural beauty and pristine surroundings this area has to offer, have been discovered by Tourism, which is now becoming more and more the forefront of economic development in Kaslo and the surrounding towns.
With the vibrant history that Kaslo has had over its brief history (a little over a hundred years now) it has found itself, and has really started to get a characteristic of its own. A nice easygoing rhythm has developed in town, and everyone is allowed to follow their own ride to the end of the rainbow.
There are many diverse groups that make up the town, but each respects the other, and this contributes largely to the charm this small town has for many new arrivals or tourists.
The West Kootenay area is known for its many artistically talented inhabitants, which includes music, poetry, pottery, painting, etc. The atmosphere of the Kootenays causes many people to develop their natural given skills, which is somewhat similar to our baking. All of this makes Kaslo a one-of-a-kind jewel, and I am glad to be a living part of it.