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Castlegar is a city of 8,000 people (2016) in British Columbia on the southern tip of the Arrow Lakes chain. It sits at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers, and is a perfect base for a wide range of outdoor activities. The surrounding lakes and mountains offer unlimited outdoor possibilities. There is tremendous fishing on both big rivers and on the Arrow Lakes, and Syringa Creek Provincial Park is nearby.


Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park

The city's population includes a large number of Doukhobors, who were largely responsible for much of Castlegar's early development and growth.

A sizeable Portuguese community grew as workers, mainly from the Azores islands, moved in to take up employment in the area. The area which was to become Castlegar was an important centre for the Sinixt (Lakes) Peoples. Outside the city limits are the small surrounding communities of Ootischenia, Brilliant, Robson, Robson West, Raspberry, Tarrys, Thrums, Glade, Shoreacres, Fairview, Genelle, Pass Creek and Krestova. There are also the much smaller communities of Deer Park, Renata, and Syringa on Lower Arrow Lake.

Taken together, these outlying areas comprise an approximate population of a further 8,000 people.


On 5 September 1811, David Thompson arrived at the location where Castlegar now sits, where he camped near the mouth of the Kootenay River. A plaque dedicated to David Thompson can be found on the east bank of the Columbia River overlooking the present day site of Castlegar.

The first settlement in the area was West Waterloo, now known as South Castlegar. There was widespread provincial interest in gold prospecting in the late 19th century, and by 1895 there were 40 houses in Waterloo. The town boomed until the end of the century when interest in the local mines declined.

Castlegar takes its name from Castlegar, County Galway, Ireland, the ancestral home of townsite founder Edward Mahon. (Castlegar is on the eastern boundary of the city of Galway.) The city was planned in 1897. Around 1902, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) built the bridge at Castlegar and laid the wide gauge railway tracks to Trail. There was little in Castlegar until after the completion of the CPR bridge.

First Nations history[edit]

Castlegar is in the border area between the Sinixt (Interior Salish) and the Ktunaxa Indian bands. Experts cannot agree where the Ktunaxa range ended, and where the Sinixt began. There was much overlapping of cultural and territorial activity between the two peoples. The Sinixt were the original people in the area, and that the Kootenai arrived several hundred years ago from central Canada.

"Qepitles" was a site on the north side of the Kootenay River, just above the junction with the Columbia River. Native implements (arrowheads, pestles, etc.) have been found along the nearby Arrow Lakes. A reconstructed kekuli dwelling was established on Zuckerberg Island, at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia rivers.

Doukhobor history[edit]

The Doukhobors put a ferry into operation near Brilliant on the Kootenay River in 1910 and the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood (CCUB) made an application to the CPR for a railway station and siding to this point. Brilliant was the centre of the CCUB commercial enterprises. Located on the site was the Brilliant Jam Factory, a grain elevator, and a flax seed mill.


Hot days and cool nights in summer, with moderately dry weather and cold winters with heavy snowfall due to the mediterranean tendencies of high winter precipitation. Castlegar is wetter than most places in the Southern Interior of BC, as the city receives around 400 mm more precipitation than nearby Kelowna, Penticton and Kamloops (which are in the dryer Okanagan region of British Columbia, while Castlegar is in the Kootenay region).

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

  • Castlegar is about 600 km from Calgary and from Vancouver on Highway 3.

By plane[edit]

By bus[edit]

Get around[edit]

By rental car[edit]

By public transit[edit]

  • BC Transit (West Kootenay Transit System), toll-free: +1-855-993-3100. Offers bus routes in the region, including Monday to Saturday service connecting Balfour, Castlegar, Fruitvale, Nelson, Rossland, Slocan City, and Trail. BC Transit (Q4179186) on Wikidata BC Transit on Wikipedia
    • Route 33 travels between Castlegar Community Complex and Selkirk College via West Kootenay Regional Airport (10 minutes). Route operates Monday to Saturday.
    • Route 99 travels between Nelson and Castlegar (40 minutes). From Castlegar Community Complex (the main bus exchange), take bus 33 to Selkirk College (10 minutes) and transfer to route 99. These routes operate from Monday to Saturday.
    • Route 98 travels between Castlegar and Trail (25-30 minutes). Route operates Monday to Saturday.

By taxi[edit]


  • 1 Castlegar Sculpturewalk. The sculpturewalk is an annual, rotating exhibition of sculptures and artwork by international artists. In 2017, works of 330 artists were brought to the town to compete for a $25,000 prize. The art is located in the downtown area of the city, generally within about 0.5 km of city hall. Many of those sculptures along Columbia Street.
  • 2 Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park, 901 7th Avenue. Suspension bridge to wooded island where you can see the confluence of two of the greatest rivers in British Columbia: the Columbia and the Kootenay. Picnic areas and nature walks.
  • 3 Doukhobor Discovery Centre, 112 Heritage Way, +1 250 365-5327, . May-September: M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5 PM; off-season by appointment only. Outdoor displays, interactive educational exhibits and historical artifacts illustrating Doukhobor life in the Southern Interior of British Columbia (1908-1938). The Doukhobors came to Canada from Russia in the late 1890s because the Russian government persecuted them for their pacifist beliefs and their refusal to participate in the military. Adults $10, seniors $8, students: $5, children (under 5) free.
  • 4 CPR Station Museum, 400 13th Ave, +1 250-365-6440. Apr-Oct: Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM; Jul-Sep: daily 10AM-5PM. 1906 Canadian Pacific Railway station with perfectly preserved caboose. Gift shop offers a variety of handmade gifts crafted by local area artisans, including paintings and pottery. Suggested donation of $2.
  • 5 Kootenay Gallery, 120 Heritage Way (across from the Castlegar Regional Airport, just past the Doukhobor Discovery Centre), +1 250-365-3337, . Mar-Nov: Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM; Dec 1-2: daily 10AM-5PM. A principal gallery for the visual arts within the West Kootenay region. Has a gift shop.



  • Climbing: an up-and-coming climbing area with the potential to grow, great rock around try the "waterline" and some other local spots,
The Seven Summits mountain bike trail, Castlegar BC
  • Hiking and mountain biking: some unreal trails and secret spots that will blow your mind. Locals are friendly and helpful.
  • Golfing:
    • 1 Castlegar Golf Club, 1602 Aaron Rd, toll-free: +1-877-352-1750. 18-hole championship course. Non-members welcome.
    • 2 Little Bear Golf Course, 872 Waterloo Rd, +1 250-365-2353. A 9-hole golf course.
  • 3 Syringa Provincial Park (on the Arrow Lake, 19 km northwest of Castlegar on Hwy 3A -- look for the Robson exit just before or after you cross the bridge over the Kootenay River). Large sandy beach, good swimming, large campsite, hiking trails, boat launch, sani-dump. Campsite often full during peak season so book ahead if possible. This all-season 4500-ha park protects provincially significant interior Douglas Fir forests and preserves one of the few remaining examples of grassland ecosystems in the Kootenays. A variety of wildlife are at home in the park including, elk, deer and a herd of rocky mountain bighorn sheep that can often be observed grazing on the many rock bluffs. Syringa Provincial Park (Q7663346) on Wikidata Syringa Provincial Park on Wikipedia
  • Boating: Great boating and fishing on the Arrow Lake, west of Castlegar.
    • 4 Scotties Marina, 5220 Broadwater Rd, +1 250-365-3267. Located on Arrow Lake. Has moorage, fuel, food, burger bar, bait, and free boat launch.
  • 5 Floating the Slocan River (take Hwy 3A eastbound, then take Hwy 6 north). A popular summer activity is a 2- to 3-hour float down the Slocan River from Slocan Park to Crescent Valley. Tubes available for purchase at Canadian Tire. The drive from downtown Castlegar to Slocan Park is nearly 40 km, taking about 35 minutes.
  • 6 Castlegar Sunfest. Includes a parade, fireworks, and a festival with food and live music. The festival portion of the even is held at Kinsmen Park in the downtown area. Held the first weekend in June.


  • Downhill skiing near Rossland or Nelson.
  • Cat and heli-skiing:
  • Snowmobiling: Hundreds of kilometres of groomed and ungroomed trails located around Castlegar.
  • Cross-country skiing




  • 1 Cuisine of India, 908 Columbia Ave, +1 250-365-0999. Inexpensive, authentic Indian food served as spicy as you like. Lunch buffet and dinner.
  • 2 Grateful Table, 400 Columbia Ave, +1 250 365-2311, . Popular Greek spot downtown, summer patio, closed Mondays.
  • 3 Chopsticks Chinese and Japanese, 789 Columbia Ave, +1 250-365-5330. Sushi bar and table service, good sushi and relatively authentic Chinese cuisine.
  • Lions Head Pub, 2629 Broadwater Rd (across the bridge from downtown Castlegar in Robson), +1 250-365-2739. Neighbourhood pub with 12 beer taps of BC microbrews, summer patio and fire pit, lunch and dinner. See listing under Drink.



Pubs and bars[edit]

  • 2 Black Rooster Bar, Grill and Restaurant, 651 18 St, +1 250-365-7779. In the Super 8 hotel. Outdoor patio, lounge atmosphere, numerous plasma TVs, good food and drink, moderately priced.
  • 3 Lions Head Pub, 2629 Broadwater Rd, +1 250-365-2739. 11:30AM-1AM. In Robson, North Castlegar: turn left on Broadwater Road after the Brilliant Bridge at the north end of town. Smoked BBQ meats, house made menu. Specializing in BC craft brewed beer -- 12 taps. Between the Historic Lions Head Rock and the Mighty Columbia River, this 2-floor, Tudor-style building is one of a kind in the Kootenays. Expect some live bands, daily free pool and foosball everyday.

Coffee shops and cafes[edit]

  • 4 Bagels and Brew, 1983 Columbia Ave, +1 250-304-2030. Specialty coffee drinks, fresh roasted coffee beans, and loose teas. Bagels are boiled and baked, and a variety of cream cheeses are available. Sandwiches, melts, soups and salads are also featured on the menu.
  • 5 Common Grounds, 692 18 St, +1 250-365-3883. Coffee shop.


  • 1 Canadas Best Value Inn and Suites, 1935 Columbia Ave, +1 250-365-2177. Pets are allowed. From $110.
  • 2 Super 8 by Wyndham Castlegar, 651 18 Street, +1 250-365-2700. Free continental breakfast and WiFi. Pet-friendly, non-smoking hotel with themed rooms, accessible rooms, and executive and Jacuzzi suites. Each comes with a microwave, refrigerator, 42-inch flat-screen TV, and access to guest laundry facilities. Heated indoor pool and hot tub. From $137.
  • 3 Flamingo Motel, 1660 Columbia Ave, +1 250-365-7978, . Free shuttle service from Castlegar Airport and Bus Terminal. Non-smoking rooms, TV, fridges, stoves and microwaves and High Speed Internet access.
  • 4 Sandman Hotel Castlegar, 1944 Columbia Ave, +1 250-365-8444. Large indoor atrium pool, whirlpool and fitness centre, nearby forest trails, high-speed internet, business centre, exercise gym, free parking, on-site restaurant, pets allowed in some rooms, pool, wheelchair accessible, whirlpool. From $135.


  • The nearest hospital is in Trail.

Go next[edit]

Check out cities of Nelson and Rossland nearby.

Routes through Castlegar
OsoyoosChristina Lake  W Crowsnest Highway E  SalmoCranbrook
ENDS at  W  E  New Denver via Nelson
ENDS at  N  S  TrailSpokane via

This city travel guide to Castlegar is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.