Historical Photos from Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park was establish in 1920 as part of an agreement to build a new road through the Rocky Mountains. The Banff-Windermere Parkway, also known as Highway 93 South, was completed in the summer of 1923, linking the Bow and Columbia Valleys. Kootenay sits on the western side of the Continental Divide, which is also the boundary that separates Alberta and British Columbia, as well as distinguishes Banff National Park from Kootenay itself. Kooteny is just one component of the Canadian Rocky Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Site. The others include Banff and Jasper National Parks, as well as, Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine, and Hamber Provincial Parks.

Howard E. Sibbald was the Indian agent at the Morley reserve (Stoney), later becoming Chief Game Warden of Banff National Park and later Superintendent of Kootenay National Park, 1920.

Archaeological evidence confirms that pre-contact First Nation groups were using the Kootenay area for travel, trade, and residence for 10,000 years. Pictographs have been uncovered in the hot springs caves near Sinclair Canyon that were painted by the Ktunaxa people, indicating they were some of the first to utilize the hot pools located there. The park is also home to Kootenae House National Historic Site, which is where the Ktunaxa people and early European fur traders began trading, forever changing the course of First Nations and Canadian history.

Road through Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, 1920s

Today, Kootenay boasts a number of attractions that brings folks from all over the world. From the Radium Hot Springs, to Marble Canyon and the Paint Pots, to world-class recreational opportunities, such as hiking, camping, fishing, and biking. Kootenay offers something for everyone.

Road through Sinclair Canyon in winter, Radium Hot Springs area, British Columbia, 1914

For more historical photos of national parks in the Canadian Rockies, please see my previous posts featuring Yoho National Park, Waterton Lakes, Rogers Pass, Jasper, Lake Louise, and Banff’s Cave and Basin, which is the birthplace of Canada’s entire national parks system.

Man beside car on road, Sinclair Canyon, Radium Hot Springs area, British Columbia, 1914
Pictographs, Sinclair Canyon, Radium Hot Springs area, British Columbia, 1914
Bridge across creek near Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, 1914
Swimming pool, Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, 1914
Pictographs, Sinclair Canyon, Radium Hot Springs area, British Columbia, 1914
Swimming pool, Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, 1914
Entrance gate, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, 1915-1920
Kootenay River, Macleod Meadows area, British Columbia, 1930s
Sinclair Canyon, near Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, 1920s
Road through the park, British Columbia, 1920s
Banff-Windermere road, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, 1920s
Automobile in Red Rock canyon near Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, 1920s
Marble Canyon, British Columbia, 1920s
Man feeding bear at Gibson Camp, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, 1920s

If you’re curious to see more vintage photographs of bears, please see this previous post. Please note that the feeding of wildlife is unlawful and dangerous, to both yourself and the animal. Please follow these helpful tips whenever you’re in bear country.

Cable crossing of Kootenay river, British Columbia, 1923
Bridge leading to Marble Canyon camp, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, 1920
Bungalow at Marble Canyon, British Columbia, 1920
Red Rock campground, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, 1920s-1930s
Vermilion River, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, 1930s
Tipis on Prolific Meadows, British Columbia, 1941
Norman Sanson at hiking camp, Prolific Meadows, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, 1941
Hikers packing up for return hike, Prolific Meadows, British Columbia, 1941
Hikers fording Hell-Roaring Creek, Prolific Meadows, British Columbia, 1941
Jack Meredith, park warden, at Warden’s cabin Number 3, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, n.d.

If you’re keen to learn more about the career of a modern-day Park Warden, please see my Wild Jobs story that features a warden in Banff National Park.

Entrance to the park, n.d.
Couple looking at mountain scenery from cabin, Kootenay national park, British Columbia, n.d.
Radium Hot Springs, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, n.d.

The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives. Additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on each photo. There is also the option to purchase a high-resolution copy. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

Tyler Dixon
About Tyler Dixon 163 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.