Ymir is located 12 km (7.5 miles) north of Salmo
and 28 km (17.5 miles) south of Nelson
on Hwy 6. Ymir (pronounced "why-mur") is named after mythology
regarding a leader named Ymir who founded a race of frost giants
who dealt with the heaven and earth relationships in Norse cosmology.
Ymir is a small community between 200-300 inhabitants and lies at
the base of Mount Dundee next to the Salmo River. Ymir, with the
Selkirk and Purcell Mountains aligning themselves in the east and
west directions, was originally known as Quartz Creek and has numerous
outcrops of rock exposing minerals on the bedrock.
The community is very rich in history dating back to when very rich
gold and silver deposits were first discovered here by the Hall
brothers who made their way here from Colville, Washington.
Stamp Mine in the British Empire
Names of such mines as Porto Rico, Yankee Girl, Ymir, Dundee and
New York Central helped create the largest stamp mill in the British
Empire at the time in Ymir. Tales of betrayal between the 'hard
rock' miners, wild nights and brawls in the taverns, red-light districts
and fortunes being lost and made - the poker tables are part of
Ymir's folklore from 1890 to the 1920's.
Later in the 1800's, with word of the rich ore deposits, various
mines and prospecting operations were situated throughout the Salmo
River Valley. With the influx of people and a need for transportation,
a town was surveyed by businessman and railway magnate, D.C. Corbin,
President of the Spokane International Railroad in 1897. Eventually,
a rail line was put in giving access to markets in the Pacific Northwest.
You can discover part of this history at one of the famous and oldest
hotels in the Kootenays, Hotel Ymir, which is located right on 1st
Avenue as you enter Ymir from the south off Hwy 6. The Hotel Ymir
was originally built in 1896, then completely restored in 2006 to
its proud past and is now a country resort. The new Hotel Ymir Resort
offers a great place to spend some time when visiting here, featuring
a pub, restaurant and accommodation, if required.
Also situated in Ymir is the firehall, a general store which has
a good selection of everything, a baseball field, the Ymir Arts
and Museum Society (YAMS) plus another heritage landmark in Ymir,
the Ymir Palace Inn. The Ymir Palace Inn, which was built in 1896,
is located right behind the Hotel Ymir and offers bed and breakfast
Northern Santa Fe Railway Trail
This route, which is undeveloped so you have to enter at your own
risk, has not been officially upgraded for recreational use but
is in good shape and travels right across from the Hotel Ymir. The
50 km (30 miles) long Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Trail
uses right-of-way from the Nelson and Fort Sheppard Company who
built a transportation route in 1893 through Ymir to the USA in
If you would prefer, there is a recreational-use facility set up
on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway rail right next to the
Salmo River and across from the Hotel Ymir. The site has some covered
picnic tables, a day-use area and fire-pit next to the river plus
some rustic camping available there.
Other recreational activities in Ymir include hunting, fishing,
hiking, hang-gliding, para-gliding, snowmobiling and other outdoor
adventures plus visiting the Ymir Disc Golf course. The Whitewater
Ski Resort is also very close to Ymir, about 20 minutes by car on
Hwy 6 towards Nelson.
Probably the best talk about the history of Ymir is described in
the 20-minute video by a local folklore himself, Bill Barlee, on
the Ymir British Columbia website. Joined by Mike Roberts from the
award-winning series, 'Gold Trails & Ghost Towns,' Bill Barlee
gives excellent details on the daily lives of some of the locals
living in this part of the Salmo Valley.
For future prospectors there are lots of buzz in the local circles
with new gold mines that have not yet been discovered by prospectors.
Today there is still much action between Ymir and Salmo where you
can see lots of new gold discoveries taking place such as the new
development called the Yankee-Dundee Project, developed by Group
Ten Metals Inc.