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 Home > Travel BC > BC Cities and Towns > Kootenay Rockies > Wardner

Wardner is located just off the Crowsnest Highway 3 about 37 km (23 miles) east of Cranbrook and 15 km (9 miles) west of Jaffray.

Timber Industry
Wardner and the area around it were settled around 1897 when the railway company built a bridge across the Kootenay River over the bluff on the south side of town with a view of 'The Steeples' a mountain range to the north. Later, various other enterprises sprouted up, with the main business people establishing themselves in the forestry industry. The industry started out by supplying ties to the railway and it later expanded to supply lumber to the Prairie Provinces. The town was named after the founder James F. Wardner, a legendary American businessman who established enterprises throughout Idaho, Washington, and British Columbia.

Crowsnest Hwy 3
Unfortunately, bad circumstances occurred throughout time, such as the closing of Crows Nest Pass Lumber Company, the re-routing of the Crowsnest Hwy 3 to a new bridge in 1971, and the by-passing of the railway through Wardner. Many businesses that once flourished ended up closing down.

Exploring Wardner
You can find some evidence of this historic past when exploring Wardner, such as the concrete shell of the old power house building once owned by Crows Nest Pass Lumber Company in 1913, located on Blair Street.

Lake Koocanusa
Wardner sits on the bank of the Kootenay River near the north end of Lake Koocanusa in the far south-east corner of British Columbia. Lake Koocanusa was formed in 1975 after the construction of the Libby Dam on the Kootenay River south in Montana. The reservoir, which was eventually created, is approximately 200 km (125 miles) long with approximately half of the lake in the US, the other half in Canada.

Fluctuating Lakefront
During the year, depending on power demand, Bonneville Power Authority, the operators of the Libby Dam in Montana, can adjust the amount of flow. Lake Koocanusa is subject, therefore, to water depth fluctuations along the shoreline at Wardner. Generally speaking, the water level is usually at its lowest point during the summer months and highest during the winter.

Accommodation and Services
For supplies, you can try the Wardner General Store when it is open, as hours vary during the year. If you require accommodation, there are a number of cabins, B&Bs, and cabins available from smaller operators in the near area. You can also find a small, non-supervised community park with a baseball diamond on Blair Street.

Wardner Provincial Park
If you want to explore Lake Koocanusa by boat, there is a long gravel boat launch that allows for this at Wardner Provincial Park on Laurier Street. There is also a day-use facility at the park where you can find a few picnic tables and some pit-toilets.

Recreational Resort Homes
Today, Wardner is very small and quiet, although there has been lots of recreational development with resort homes - the construction of Koocanusa Landing, Koocanusa Ranch, and Osprey Landing at Koocanusa Lake. Many of these developments feature lakefront living, open spaces, and outdoor recreation right at your doorstep, with quick access found at the Cranbrook/Canadian Rockies International Airport, only 45 km (28 miles) away.

HaHa Creek Road
Wardner also serves as an entry point onto some more remote lakes towards the west on the paved HaHa Creek Road, which was once part of the Interprovicial Highway system that went from Creston to Medicine Hat, Alberta. Along this less-travelled, peaceful, and scenic way through ranch land, you'll find Lund, HaHa, and Bednorski Lakes before meeting up with the Crowsnest Hwy 3. Another place to explore nearby (on gravel road) includes the very scenic Mayook Valley.

Local Fishing
HaHa Creek has decent fishing and, with the appropriate license, you can try for Carp, Pumpkinseed sunfish, and Largemouth bass. Then to the south of Wardner in Lake Koocanusa, fish species include Bull, Rainbow, Kamloops trout, Ling cod, Kokanee salmon, and White Fish.

For Hunters, the area around Wardner, including the Bull River region, offers incredible hunting opportunities with various outfitters established in Wardner. Hunts are available for species including Black and Grizzly bear, cougar, lynx, elk, sheep, moose, and deer. Most of the outfitters are family run and been in the business for a number of years, offering a thrill of a lifetime.

Forest Service Roads
If you do take the less-travelled forest service roads found throughout the Wardner area, you should be prepared for the worst. There have been stories of even local people getting lost in the bush and having to wait it out before emergency help arrived.

Bear Country
Just remember if you are enjoying the provincial parks and the countryside around British Columbia, please remember this is Bear Country. Try to avoid the rivers during heavy salmon spawning times unless you feel comfortable with bears around and take the usual precautions. There is also the possibilities of encounters with wolves or cougars so please play it safe.

Information on Wardner




click map for larger image
click map for larger image


'The Steeples'
'The Steeples'


Old Power House Building
Old Power House Building


Wardner Community Park
Wardner Community Park


Wardner General Store
Wardner General Store


Wardner Provincial Park
Wardner Provincial Park

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