Skip to main content

Stories Beneath the Surface

On June 9, 1969, the Hugh Keenleyside Dam on the Columbia River was officially opened just north of Castlegar, B.C., creating a reservoir that stretched over 240 km.

The reservoir created by the dam wiped out or severely affected the communities of Deer Park, Renata, Edgewood, Needles, Fauquier, Burton, Arrow Park, East Arrow Park, Galena Bay, Beaton, Arrowhead, Sidmouth, Twelve Mile and Mount Cartier (you can spot them on this  proposed reservoir map). It also had profound effects on the village of Nakusp and the city of Revelstoke.

More than 50 years later, the impacts of a dam built so far away and so long ago are not understood by people moving to the valley. People visit the “flats” south of Revelstoke and notice the fluctuation of the water, but don’t know its cause. The stories of the valley have been flooded out along with the farmland.

What does “Stories Beneath the Surface” mean to you?

A class of ten year olds visiting Revelstoke Museum and Archives was asked that question. One boy replied, “It makes me think of an iceberg, where most of it is beneath the surface of the water.”

In this case, the water is a reservoir. The Arrow Lakes reservoir.

What stories lie beneath the surface of this reservoir?

The stories of the Sinixt Indigenous people, who lived in the valley for centuries, and whom the government displaced from their traditional lands long before the dam was built.

The stories of the salmon and other species that were impacted by the dam.

The stories of a way of life that was forever changed with the rising of the water behind the dam.

The stories of 2000 settlers who were forced to leave their rural lifestyles and start again with often inadequate compensation.

The stories are complex, resonant, and often sad. Join us as we dive beneath the surface to uncover them.

Start reading the story