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March 19, 2008

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Where's Richard?                                 Rossland, B.C.



Destination: Rossland, B.C.
Take a step back in time to the old gold rush days.
By Richard Frinta

The year is 1897. You and the other 7,000 gold miners have left the La Roi mine, deposited your earnings into one of the four banks in town and are heading for some R&R at one of the over 40 saloons in town. It's hard to know if 'pub crawls' were the rage back then ... but the opportunity certainly existed in Rossland. At one point, the La Roi mines issued stock and the shares rocketed from $0.50 to $40 almost overnight. Sounds somewhat reminiscent of our own IPO/technology boom not too long ago. Today, if you ignore the bright shiny cars outside and get up early in the morning to stroll down Main Street, you still have the feeling of having been hurtled back in time. It seems (kudos to them), that the town has resisted the urge to become a tourist Mecca with souvenir and antique shops, which has plagued many other old ghost mining towns. You can still experience what it might have felt like for these miners as you walk 800 feet into an actual mine, the entrance being at the Rossland Historical Museum. At one point, Rossland was one of the largest cities in Western Canada and a major business center in North America. That was then ... this is now.

Today, Rossland is a city of close to 4,000 citizens. For its size, Rossland is a bustling community with construction taking place right and left. You can just sense that it is a sleeping giant about to awake. If you're outdoorsy, just looking at beautiful Red Mountain as the sun rises will be a pleasant start to your day. From that point on, you can participate in a host of activities.

The two easiest methods of arrival into Rossland are by flying directly into Rossland International Airport or alternatively, by flying into Spokane, then renting a car from one of the half dozen or so car rental places at Spokane International. From there, you'll drive north approximately 90 miles, cross the border and find yourself in Rossland, British Columbia. I flew into Spokane on ExpressJet Airlines. It was a comfortable flight and just as important, the flight departed and arrived on time. ExpressJet Airlines, 1-888-958-XJET.

Rossland is known for excellent skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. People come from all over the world to work whatever job they can find, just so they can be here to enjoy Rossland's outdoor life. Since I visited during the summer months, mountain biking was my activity of choice. Tyler, of Revolution Cycles, assisted in gearing me up with a full-suspension bike. Off I went to Adrenaline Adventures, where Blaine took me for a tour up Kootenay Columbia Trail and then back down. The trails were challenging, so most of the time I was glued to the trail, but when we stopped at the summit and looked down at the crystal blue lake below, the hike up the mountain seemed more than worth it. The name of Blaine's company was quite fitting and if you want to experience a rush, get in touch with Adrenaline Adventures (Tel: 250-362-7421). The hiking here is fabulous, with trails ranging from medium difficulty to quite challenging. If it's golf you want, then Rossland has that as well. I had a tasty breakfast at the Redstone Resort, which was designed by Les Furber and surely has the look of a top-tier golf course.

There are approximately four bars, 24 accommodation possibilities and a dozen or so places to eat in Rossland. The evening I arrived, I ate at a place called Idgies Restaurant and was seated on the patio, where I was greeted by my two hosts. For starters, we had a couple of cold beers, one named 'Two Blondes' and the other named 'Thirsty Beaver'. My entrée was a well-cooked Blue Marlin, washed down with a glass of Sumac Ridge wine. After dinner, I was taken on a surprise trip along a dirt road about 10 miles away. It turned out to be a great time ... an outback-type bush party. There was a live band performing, good food and a blazing bonfire. As the firewood snapped and crackled nearby, I looked up and saw only stars. To my left was a killer view of the lights of Rossland. In the morning, I savored an organic cup of coffee and cheese-stuffed muffin (their specialty) at Clanseys, a local hangout. Lunch was at the Alpine Grind and I enjoyed their super-tasty salmon, lettuce and tomato grilled sandwich. Clanseys, Tel: 250-362-5273.

I lodged at a comfortable condominium at Silvertip Lodge that was fully furnished and equipped with a gourmet kitchen, fireplace, washer/dryer and hot tub. For more information, contact Red reservations for both winter and summer rates.

The highlights of my trip to Rossland were plentiful but these are the standout moments:

  • Having a chance to witness an authentic bush party surrounded by people from all over the world.
  • Listening to great jazz music and enjoying delicious tapas at the Old Fire Hall.
  • Walking the streets at sundown passing by the over two dozen heritage buildings.
  • Biking along a section of the Seven Summits Skyline Trail, the 18.5-mile ridge trail joining seven mountain peaks.
  • Enjoying a very entertaining can-can theatre performance based on Rossland's early mining history.

    In summary, if you've been to the Whistler and Banff mountain resorts and found yourself yearning for something perhaps a touch more 'authentic', then you might want to go ahead and book a flight to Rossland, British Columbia. You won't regret it.

    This trip was sponsored by Red Mountain Resort.
  • Pictures From

    The Trip


    West of Rossland


    Afternoon Light, West of Rossland


    Red Mountain Realty Condo: Living Room


    Beer and Appetizer at Local Restaurant


    Red Mountain Realty: Bedroom


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