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Creston Turns 100: A Guide to Centennial Celebrations

By Brian Lawrence

It seems like the blink of an eye, but just like that, Creston is turning 100 — and the town is gearing up for a jubilant celebration! From concerts to futuristic drone shows to the much loved annual Blossom Festival to local history tours, there's a plethora of activities waiting to be explored!

A view of the twin grain elevators and the town of Creston with a view of the mountains in the background
A view of the twin grain elevators and the town of Creston with a view of the Skimmerhorn bluffs in the background

The rich historical tapestry of the Creston Valley lends a unique charm to the area. Downtown Creston, relics like the grain elevators harken back to the early days of grain farming in the 1930s, and Mawson’s Sports, which opened in 1915, is likely the oldest independently-run business in the valley. And then there’s the former Imperial Bank of Canada (now the Creston Valley Advance), the location of an armed bank robbery back in 1925!

I could go on and on about the incredible historical sights and sites in Creston, let's focus on the Town of Creston's upcoming centennial celebrations and the events that promise to make it memorable.

History of Creston

The Creston Valley bears the historical legacy of the Yaqan Nukiy, members of the larger Ktunaxa Nation, who plied the reed-filled marshes and Kootenay Lake in their birch-bark yaksumit canoes hunting, fishing and foraging thousands of years before European explorers, such as David Thompson, arrived in the early 1800s. For a deeper dive into their history, a visit to the Yaqan Nukiy Heritage Centre is a must.

Now known as one of the Kootenays’ agricultural hotspots the Creston Valley’s colonial history began with the arrival of fur traders coming to the area in the early 18oo's, later followed by European settlers arriving from the United States via the Kootenay River by sternwheeler boats, from the East & West from other areas of British Columbia via the Dewdney Trail and then eventually by train lines seeking fortunes in mining and forestry.

During this time a small settlement sprang up on the ridge line overlooking the wetlands, a stop along both the Canadian Pacific Rail & Burlington & Nelson (B&N) railroads passing through the area. After a a series of name changes, the quick growing village would be dubbed "Creston" by railway Surveyor Fred Little after Creston, Iowa, where he had previously worked.

Governor General Lord Byng presenting Creston's charter in 1924. Creston Museum

Creston was eventually incorporated as a village on May 14, 1924, with the historic event being officiated by none other than the Governor General of Canada, Lord Byng and his wife, Lady Byng - a pretty pretty presitigious start for a small village in vast and sparsely populated British Columbia of the day! The mid-1930s saw a significant agricultural leap with the diking of the Kootenay River, turning the wetlands of the valley floor into fertile farmland, which in turn led to a boom in population. Nearing 3,000 residents, Creston became a town in 1966, and is home sweet home to 5,600 people as of 2021, meaning it’s long surpassed the province’s threshold to become a city — but, really, who want to pay to have all that letterhead reprinted?

Party Like it’s 1924

Fittingly, the Town of Creston will host a Council meeting scheduled for the 100th anniversary of Creston’s incorporation on Tuesday, May 14th with Mayor and Councillors dressed in 1920s era attire! However, this omage to Creston's history may be eclipsed by a futurist celebration later in the evening: a drone show at the Creston and District Community Complex. The sky will be lit up by drones forming iconic Creston images — just a wild guess, but the downtown grain elevators, cherries and swans are sure to be included!

Clydesdale Horses from the Kootenay Meadows Farm pulling a historic logging cart during the Blossom Festival Parade
Clydesdale Horses from the Kootenay Meadows Farm pulling a historic logging cart during the Blossom Festival Parade

That’s also the week of the Creston Valley Blossom Festival, running May 17-20, which is kicking off the traditional opening ceremonies with a concert by the Creston Community Band, Blossom Valley Singers and many more showcasing 100 Years of Music! The rest of the festival really kicks off with the eagerly anticipated Saturday morning parade, downtown farmers' market, the ever popular Carnival and amusment rides, a concert by the Nelson-based AC/DC cover band BC/DC.

More this year

A visitor to the Creston Museum taking a tour with museum staff
A visitor to the Creston Museum taking a tour with museum staff

The Creston Museum, of course, is planning a lot historical programming related to the centennial throughout the year, including some local geology, Yaqan Nukiy history and culture, and tours of significant historic sites. And the museum will host it's popular History About Town downtown walking tours from July 15-20, focusing on Creston in 1924, as well as tours of both Pioneer and Forest Lawn cemeteries. Be sure to keep an eye on their website for details!

From June 20-23, Footlighters Theatre Society will be presenting a series of skits at Kootenay River Theatre, featuring events from Creston’s past. The production is developing, so be sure to check their Facebook page for the most up-to-date details. Then on September 21, the Creston Lions Club will be celebrating its 85th birthday, so their team is planning a dual celebration of their club and Creston’s 100th with free hotdogs at Centennial Park!

Note that there are still many more events under development that will be announced throughout the year. To keep up to date with all of the activities planned for the centennial, be sure to visit the Town of Creston’s website for the most up to date and complete schedule of events.

So Much More to Explore

While here taking in the festivities, we also encourage you to enjoy some other great things to see and do, from visiting local wineries to playing a round of golf to exploring the Creston Valley Wildlife Management area. Or you might want to keep going with some shopping at one of many local boutiques and artisan studios, pickup up some fresh local produce from the Saturday Farmers' Market or take in some entertainment at one of our many local venues? And if you need any other ideas for things to do while you are here there are even more activity suggestions in our Get Inspired blog section!

However you choose to spend your time, have fun celebrating Creston's milestone!

Brian Lawrence

Freelance writer Brian Lawrence is a former editor and publisher of the Creston Valley Advance. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and trail running, and acting in and directing productions with Creston's Footlighters Theatre Society.


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