Canyon Street in Creston is seen ca. 1967. The town has political and social ties to both East and West Kootenay.

PLACE NAMES: Creston: a town between two Kootenays

Is Creston in West Kootenay? East Kootenay? Central Kootenay?

Three hundred fifth in a series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

Is Creston in the West Kootenay or East Kootenay?

For your consideration:

• The Purcell Mountains divide West Kootenay from East Kootenay. By this measure, Creston is in East Kootenay, although Crawford Bay is in West Kootenay.

• For regional government purposes, Creston is in the Regional District of Central Kootenay, along with Nelson, Castlegar, and other West Kootenay municipalities. However, it’s in the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District.

• Creston is in the Kootenay Lake school district, which also includes Nelson, Kaslo, and Salmo. The former School District No. 7 (Nelson) amalgamated with School District 86 (Creston-Kaslo) in 1996.

• Creston is in in the Nelson-Creston provincial riding, which also includes Kaslo and Salmo.

• Creston is in the Kootenay-Columbia federal riding. Until 2015, this was largely an East Kootenay constituency, but it it now includes Nelson, Kaslo, and Salmo.

• Creston and the East Shore of Kootenay Lake are among the few areas of Canada that don’t change their clocks — they observe Mountain Standard Time year-round. That means in winter and part of fall, Creston’s time matches the West Kootenay. The rest of the year it matches the East Kootenay.

Kootenay Lake is the dividing line between the Pacific and Mountain time zones. When Pacific Standard Time is in effect, you have to adjust your watch while sailing across on the ferry.

When Daylight Saving Time is in effect, you don’t have to, since Mountain Standard Time and Pacific Daylight Time are the same.

Safe to say the time zone question has always been a hotter issue in Creston than which Kootenay the town belongs to.

“I can’t say it comes up a lot, so I don’t have an easy answer,” says Creston Valley Advance publisher Brian Lawrence. “Many would say East Kootenay and some would say Central but because of politics I think it’s much more strongly connected with the West Kootenay.”

“I think Creston is in West Kootenay,” says Creston Museum manager Tammy Bradford. “But I believe the official dividing line is at Akokli Creek. I’m not sure if there was a preference in the early years.”

“I have seen us listed as East Kootenay, Central Kootenay, and West Kootenay,” says Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce manager Vern Gorham. “Our regional district is Central Kootenay. But otherwise, I never hear us referred to as Central Kootenay. Mostly East, I guess, because we are on the east side of the Kootenay Pass.”

According to Mayor Ron Toyota, “The Town of Creston is located in the Creston Valley which is in the Central Kootenay. Yes, it is confusing because most publications and maps say East or West Kootenay.”

Toyota was born in Creston but lived in Cranbrook for 30 years, “so I associate with the East Kootenay.” However, he’s spent the last 15 years living on Kootenay Lake and the last 11 years as mayor, during which time he’s regularly attended regional district meetings in Nelson, so “I am tuned in to the West Kootenay.”

Central Kootenay didn’t exist as a geographic location until the regional district was created in 1965, and for the most part it still doesn’t, although some groups have adopted it, notably Community Futures Central Kootenay and the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society.

Before 1965, Creston must have fallen into either East Kootenay or West Kootenay, but which? The Nelson Daily Miner of March 24, 1899 carried an ad for the Creston Townsite Co. that gives the location as “West Kootenay Valley, BC.”

An interesting photograph also exists from ca. 1910, in which a large sign belonging to Creston realtor R. Lamont states: “West Kootenay Valley/Best fruit lands in America.” (Perhaps starting a separate topic of whether Canada is part of America.)

The Creston Review, which began publishing in 1908, didn’t seem to take a position on the matter, although for several years, a front page banner stated: “All roads in East Kootenay and West Kootenay lead to Creston.”

Creston’s Wikipedia page is also neutral; it just says it’s in the Kootenay, neither east nor west. However, the Regional District of East Kootenay’s page says the RDEK “does not include all the region known as the East Kootenay, which includes the Creston Valley and the east shore of Kootenay Lake.”

A recent poll by the Lost Kootenays Facebook site found many people agree with Toyota that in Creston’s case, Central Kootenay probably is the most apt description. We’ll take a closer look at the responses next week.

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