LOOK OUTSIDE REGION | THE PURCELLS
Look Outside showcases stories of the wild, wildlife and connectivity in the Purcell Mountains within the Kootenay region. Situated in the southeastern corner of British Columbia, these mountains form the rugged heart of a dramatic landscape bounded on two sides by the Columbia River. The largest river in the Pacific Northwest, the Columbia starts its 2000 kilometer journey to the sea from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountain Trench.
Cutting a swath along the eastern side of the Purcells, the trench hosts one of the longest stretches of undeveloped wetlands in North America. These productive areas form crucial migratory bird habitat, just as the region as a whole is critical for grizzly bears, mountain caribou, wolverines, badgers and a host of other wildlife.
The Purcells, ancient even in geological terms, began rising 170 million years ago, long before the upstart Rocky Mountains. This mountain barrier casts a rain shadow over the East Kootenays, while the moist western slopes are a world apart where huge cedars and hemlocks form a true rainforest. Nowhere else on the planet does a temperate rainforest lie so far from the ocean.
First Nations have made their homes in this region since the Ice Age glaciers retreated, and are still closely connected to the land. They assisted David Thompson, the legendary Canadian explorer who first mapped the area. Thompson built his first post near the present-day community of Invermere. The array of communities in the region today includes Golden, Kimberley, Cranbrook, Creston, and Crawford Bay on Kootenay Lake. From backyard to backcountry, the Purcells truly form a magnificent region, one which we are all proud to call home.