Castlegar historian looking for Rota Villa stories

History project to look at 50 years of providing seniors housing in Castlegar

A local historian is asking for the community’s help with a project on the Rota Villa Seniors Complex.

Sellkirk College history instructor Takaia Larsen has been commissioned to put together a book about the history of the facility that has provided community-based social housing for low-income seniors for 50 years.

Rota Villa was created, operated and supported by the Castlegar Rotary Club for many years. It is now operated under the direction of the non-profit Castlegar Villa Society and is still run completely by volunteers.

Larsen is looking to talk to anyone who has a story to tell about Rota Villa — residents, relatives, volunteers, supporters. She is also seeking photographs.

The final product will be a book, 50-100 pages in length, that will help raise the profile of this community asset.

“They are really an active, robust non-profit society that is really working hard to do what is best for the people who live there,” said Larsen.

There is a piece of the Rota Villa story that runs through two other projects that Larsen has worked on — the histories of the Celgar pulp mill and Selkirk College.

When Celgar was being constructed in the late-1950s and early-1960s, bunkhouses were built to house the more than 600 workers. Those bunkhouses were then used in 1966 to house students and classrooms for Selkirk College’s first semester as construction of the campus was behind schedule.

In 1968 some of those bunkhouses were relocated to the Rota Villa property where they formed the shell of the first housing units at the complex and still rest today.

One of the puzzles Larsen wants to unravel during the project is how those bunkhouses ended up at Rota Villa.

If you have information or stories to share, please contact Larsen at

Larsen is also currently working on a history of the Arrow Lakes and she hopes to have her manuscript completed in the spring of 2019.

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