I travelled to Canyon Hot Springs in the summer of 2012, with partial funding from the Edmonton Arts Council and the City of Edmonton. Canyon Hot Springs is a privately owned hot spring with the commercial pool being located amongst a lovely camp ground. For those of you who are familiar with Glenn Woodsworth’s book, Hot Springs of Western Canada, please keep in mind that this book was first published in 1997 and I imagine his research dated a few decades before that. Although this is a very informative book, it is a little outdated. I received several blank stares when I asked for directions to the “…road lead(ing) from the resort down to the remains of the old town and farms beside the railway…” and was told that it had not existed for about 40 years.
While in the area, I stayed an extra day in Revelstoke and spoke with a few folks to inquire where I might find information on the history of these hot springs; I was directed to Cathy English, Curator of the Revelstoke Museum. My arrival coincided with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations which provided an excellent opportunity to chat up some of the local residents. Cathy, despite being extremely busy with the Jubilee, made time for me at the end of the day to look through the archives. Thank you Cathy.
I found a lovely book on Halcyon Hot Springs and some information regarding the demise of St. Leon Hot Springs; I will address these in their respective webpages. There also existed a few type-written duplications of “The (Albert) Canyon Recorder” from the Spring of 1898, and a few anonymous blurbs on the history of Albert Canyon.
I would assume that the natural hot springs located in Albert Canyon were utilized by the various aboriginal communities (I am still searching for this information), and as non-Aboriginal people settled in the area the hot springs were used as a source of warm water for bathing and perhaps a location for entertainment. Fred Forrest, writer and publisher of “The Canyon Recorder,” makes two references to the hot springs in the March 19, 1898 edition: “Pipes are in course of being laid from the hot springs to the Springs Hotel for the purpose of washing the bar room floor (humour implied)…and…Visit the hot springs at Albert Canyon; bring your own soap and towel.” In the March 26, 1898 edition there is an anonymous submission titled “The Prospector’s Dream of the Future of Albert Canyon.” This story tells of a dream about Mr. Future who reveals the future development of Albert Canyon, including the Albert Canyon Sanatarium “…where people come from far and near to take advantage of the great medicinal properties which this water contains.”
Two of the anonymous archival items titled “Early Settlements in Roger’s Pass” and “Albert Canyon” provide brief histories of the area. Albert Canyon was one of a few small communities that developed from both the mining industry and the development of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Albert Canyon became one of the “pusher” stations for the CPR and a small roundhouse was built in 1916. It is suggested that the railway employees dug or blasted the pit at the hot springs and lined it with heavy timbers, thus creating an open air “hot tub.” Prior to that, the hot springs were left in their natural state. These springs did attract visitors who were accommodated in local hotels.