Kootenay Bay is an unincorporated community where the Kootenay Lake ferry’s east shore landing, and the historic former steamboat landing can be found. The ferry connects with the west side of the lake at Balfour, where travellers can travel along BC Highway 3A west from Balfour to nearby Nelson, or Highway 31 north to Kaslo. From Kootenay Bay, BC 3A leads south to Creston.
Kootenay Bay boasts some fantastic dining experiences, hiking opportunities, remarkable fishing and boating spots, and infinite opportunities to get lost in nature.
READ MORE: Kootenay Bay is the eastern terminal of the Kootenay Lake ferry (not Crawford Bay, as many people inexplicably believe) and was originally known as Lynchville. According to Terry Turner and Susan Hulland in Impressions of the Past, it was named after its only resident, a Mr. Lynch “who made his living by cutting cord wood for the Kootenay Lake steamboats.” Ted Affleck in Kootenay Lake Chronicles writes that “J. Lynch … built a house on the lake shore in the early 1900s. This shoreline, marked by a small rocky knob was renamed Kootenay Bay after Lynch departed, having lost his house and possessions in a fire.”
John Lynch applied in June 1897 with W.T. McDonald and George W. Orchard for land “on the east shore of Kootenay Lake about 3½ miles north of Pilot Bay.”
That summer he was also embroiled in a lawsuit against J.A. Sayward, “a claim under an agreement for fixing up the Pilot Bay sawmill,” which was settled out of court.
We don’t know anything else about him.
There are further references in 1901 to a John Lynch who was involved in mining around Rossland and a John Lynch who represented the Taylor air compressor company, but it’s not clear if either was the same man.
Lynchville never showed up in the civic directory but was referred to by that name in the BC government sessional papers from 1906-11.
The Kootenaian of May 7, 1908 reported: “The opening of a post office at Lynchville, giving direct mail connection with that section, places another lever in the hands of our merchants to corral the lake trade with …”
By then, however, the name had changed. The Kootenaian of May 28 added: “Kootenay Bay, as Lynchville has now been officially christened, boasts the dignity of a post office …”
But the old name hung on for a while, as demonstrated in the Nelson Daily News of Nov. 21, 1908: “A resident of Lynchville and his wife had what was to them an exciting experience one evening recently …”
Kootenay Bay was first mentioned in a dispatch that appeared in many US newspapers on July 25, 1897: “This afternoon the Omaha & Grant Smetling company announces that it has completed the purchase of the Pilot Bay Smelting company’s plant at Kootenay Bay, British Columbia.” However, there are no other known examples until 1908.
(The etymology of Kootenay is so complicated that we’ll leave it to the end of this series, but suffice it to say that it comes from the Blackfoot word for Ktunaxa.)
In 1947, the eastern Kootenay Lake ferry terminal moved from Gray Creek to Kootenay Bay. The post office closed May 31, 1990 despite community protests.