History of Radium Hot Springs
The Radium Hot Springs story is as old as the Rockies. The story began with the unleashing of powerful forces that left its tale in heaving, tortured rocks. The earth's crust cracked along a fault, more than two kilometres deep. The shatter zone around the fault lets groundwater seep close to the earth's core - heating, pressurizing and returning it to the surface.
Prior to any development by the white man, the First Nation Peoples found the hot and odourless mineral water issuing from the rocks at the base of Redstreak Mountain to be soothing and healing for their aches and pains.
The first legally registered owner other than the Crown (Governement) was Roland Stuart, an Englishman, who purchased the springs in 1890 for $160 and owned them until 1922.
A group of Englishmen headed by Lord Northcote started construction of the first pool prior to 1914. Their efforts were halted by the outbreak of World War I. The Canadian government took over and the hot pool and the first log bathhouse were completed in 1923. A partition down the centre separated the men's and women's change areas.
After Kootenay National Park was formed in 1920, the Canadian Pacific Railway built the original Radium Hot Springs Lodge.
One of Radium's pioneer families-John and Jessie Blakley-built a second hotel which was followed by a third one, The Gateway Hotel, which was owned by Mr. Oliver.
An imposing park gateway was constructed close to the pool, and entrance fees for vehicles were collected. On the arch over this gate was the quotation "THE MOUNTAINS SHALL BRING PEACE TO THE PEOPLE". This development followed the construction of the original Banff-Windermere highway through the Park. Visitors came by train to Banff and were transported to Radium Hot Springs by bus or limousine over the narrow, dusty roads.
Miss Charlotte Armstrong, whose father, Captain Frank Armstrong, had the first riverboats on the Columbia River from Golden to Windermere, was the first manager of the Radium Hot Springs Lodge and was fondly remembered years later for her hospitality and quick wit. In 1937 she purchased the Lodge from the C.P.R. and later sold it to Mr. & Mrs. H.B. Williams. They sold the property to Duncan and Dorothy McIntosh in 1952, who subsequently turned a rather rustic mountain retreat into a modern hotel complex overlooking the pools.
A famous visitor in 1929 was Sir Winston Churchill, who spent a week in a bungalow at the Radium Hot Springs Lodge. He was accompanied by his son, Randolph, his brother and a nephew. They are reported to have enjoyed considerable time in the hot pools.