Wardner is located just off the Crowsnest Highway 3 about 37 km
(23 miles) east of Cranbrook and 15
km (9 miles) west of Jaffray.
Wardner and the area around it were settled around 1897 when the
railway company built a bridge across the Kootenay River over the
bluff on the south side of town with a view of 'The Steeples' a
mountain range to the north. Later, various other enterprises sprouted
up, with the main business people establishing themselves in the
forestry industry. The industry started out by supplying ties to
the railway and it later expanded to supply lumber to the Prairie
Provinces. The town was named after the founder James F. Wardner,
a legendary American businessman who established enterprises throughout
Idaho, Washington, and British Columbia.
Unfortunately, bad circumstances occurred throughout time, such
as the closing of Crows Nest Pass Lumber Company, the re-routing
of the Crowsnest Hwy 3 to a new bridge in 1971, and the by-passing
of the railway through Wardner. Many businesses that once flourished
ended up closing down.
You can find some evidence of this historic past when exploring
Wardner, such as the concrete shell of the old power house building
once owned by Crows Nest Pass Lumber Company in 1913, located on
Wardner sits on the bank of the Kootenay River near the north end
of Lake Koocanusa in the far south-east corner of British Columbia.
Lake Koocanusa was formed in 1975 after the construction of the
Libby Dam on the Kootenay River south in Montana. The reservoir,
which was eventually created, is approximately 200 km (125 miles)
long with approximately half of the lake in the US, the other half
During the year, depending on power demand, Bonneville Power Authority,
the operators of the Libby Dam in Montana, can adjust the amount
of flow. Lake Koocanusa is subject, therefore, to water depth fluctuations
along the shoreline at Wardner. Generally speaking, the water level
is usually at its lowest point during the summer months and highest
during the winter.
For supplies, you can try the Wardner General Store when it is open,
as hours vary during the year. If you require accommodation, there
are a number of cabins, B&Bs, and cabins available from smaller
operators in the near area. You can also find a small, non-supervised
community park with a baseball diamond on Blair Street.
If you want to explore Lake Koocanusa by boat, there is a long gravel
boat launch that allows for this at Wardner
Provincial Park on Laurier Street. There is also a day-use facility
at the park where you can find a few picnic tables and some pit-toilets.
Today, Wardner is very small and quiet, although there has been
lots of recreational development with resort homes - the construction
of Koocanusa Landing, Koocanusa Ranch, and Osprey Landing at Koocanusa
Lake. Many of these developments feature lakefront living, open
spaces, and outdoor recreation right at your doorstep, with quick
access found at the Cranbrook/Canadian Rockies International Airport,
only 45 km (28 miles) away.
Wardner also serves as an entry point onto some more remote lakes
towards the west on the paved HaHa Creek Road, which was once part
of the Interprovicial Highway system that went from Creston
to Medicine Hat, Alberta. Along this less-travelled, peaceful, and
scenic way through ranch land, you'll find Lund, HaHa, and Bednorski
Lakes before meeting up with the Crowsnest Hwy 3. Another place
to explore nearby (on gravel road) includes the very scenic Mayook
HaHa Creek has decent fishing and, with the appropriate license,
you can try for Carp, Pumpkinseed sunfish, and Largemouth bass.
Then to the south of Wardner in Lake Koocanusa, fish species include
Bull, Rainbow, Kamloops trout, Ling cod, Kokanee salmon, and White
For Hunters, the area around Wardner, including the Bull River region,
offers incredible hunting opportunities with various outfitters
established in Wardner. Hunts are available for species including
Black and Grizzly bear, cougar, lynx, elk, sheep, moose, and deer.
Most of the outfitters are family run and been in the business for
a number of years, offering a thrill of a lifetime.
If you do take the less-travelled forest service roads found throughout
the Wardner area, you should be prepared for the worst. There have
been stories of even local people getting lost in the bush and having
to wait it out before emergency help arrived.
Just remember if you are enjoying the provincial parks and the countryside
around British Columbia, please remember this is Bear Country. Try
to avoid the rivers during heavy salmon spawning times unless you
feel comfortable with bears around and take the usual precautions.
There is also the possibilities of encounters with wolves or cougars
so please play it safe.
click map for
Old Power House