Balfour, British Columbia

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unincorporated community
Balfour is located in British Columbia
Location of Balfour
Coordinates: 49°38′N 116°58′W / 49.633°N 116.967°W / 49.633; -116.967Coordinates: 49°38′N 116°58′W / 49.633°N 116.967°W / 49.633; -116.967
ProvinceBritish Columbia
RegionWest Kootenay
Regional DistrictCentral Kootenay
 • Governing bodyNelson City Council
 • MPAlex Atamanenko (NDP)
 • MLACorky Evans (NDP)
 • Land3.72 km2 (1.44 sq mi)
571 m (1,873 ft)
 • Total459
 • Density123.4/km2 (320/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−08:00 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−07:00 (PDT)
Area codes250, 778, 236, & 672
Highways Hwy 3A
Hwy 31

Balfour is an unincorporated community in the West Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia. The ferry terminal and former steamboat landing is on the north shore at the entrance to the West Arm of Kootenay Lake. The locality, on BC Highway 3A, is about 33 kilometres (21 mi) northeast of Nelson.[1]

Early settlers[edit]

For centuries, First Nations harvested huckleberries and fished in the area. In 1889, two preemptions were obtained at this location. By the summer of 1890, one recipient, civil engineer Charles Wesley Busk, established a general store and laid out a townsite.[2] Likely named after Arthur Balfour, rival theories have existed.[3] The next year Busk opened the Balfour House Hotel on his 200-acre (81 ha) orchard estate.[2]

Encountering a liquidity problem, Busk sold everything except a large house set in a few surrounding acres. Joseph and Mary Gallup bought the store and hotel in the growing community. In the early 1890s, Thomas (Tom) Gregg Procter, of Procter's Landing, established the West Kootenay Brick Company on a clay deposit about 1 mile (1.6 km) downstream from the Balfour Hotel landing. Developments at the Pilot Bay smelter across the lake boosted the local economy, but the 1896 smelter closure triggered a decade-long recession for Balfour.[2]


By 1907, a wave of immigrants to the lake, aspiring to be commercial orchardists, revived the settlement.[2] Fraser's Landing existed 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the west. Sydney Smyth Fraser bought 400 acres and settled there in 1906. This was the western terminal for the Kootenay Lake Ferry 1931–1947.[4]

In 1910, Edith M. Middleton was the inaugural Balfour school teacher.[2] That year, Tom Procter created the Riverside subdivision (Balfour Addition), northeast at the lake outlet, and encompassing the bench above Balfour. Riverside was perhaps a misnomer, because the Kootenay River does not commence until a few miles below Nelson.[5]

Former CP hotel at Balfour, 1918

CP hotel[edit]

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) hotel planned for the bench was named as Riverside, but changed after strong local protest.[5] The 50-room Hotel Kootenay Lake, set in formal gardens and serviced by an aerial tramway from the shoreline, opened in 1911. The hotel was across the west arm from the western terminal of the CP Procter–Kootenay Landing lake boat route. The 1913 recession killed the business and the hotel closed in 1914, near the outbreak of World War I. In 1917, it served as a convalescent home for lung-damaged war veterans. In 1919, Edward, Prince of Wales visited. The next year, patients were relocated, and the building remained vacant until demolished in 1929. Also at this time, the onset of the Great Depression collapsed the fruit industry.[2]

Later developments[edit]

In 1947, the western terminal for the Kootenay Lake Ferry relocated from Fraser's Landing. Balfour has since subsumed Fraser's Landing and Riverside.[3] Apart from the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure ferry terminal, Balfour has primarily been a retirement and weekend retreat community. Balfour Golf Course occupies the former CP hotel site.[2] The 9-hole course, opened in 1990, was expanded to an 18-hole, championship course in 2002.[6] An RV park and campground exists at the western end of Balfour.


  1. ^ "Balfour (community)". BC Geographical Names.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Balfour".
  3. ^ a b "Nelson Star, 6 May 2013".
  4. ^ "Nelson Star, 13 Jul 2014".
  5. ^ a b "Nelson Star, 7 Jan 2017".
  6. ^ "Balfour Golf Course".

External links[edit]