Canal Flats is located south of Columbia Lake in a flat plain that separates the Columbia River and the Kootenay River. David Thompson originally called the area McGillivray's Portage in 1808. The town is now named for a canal built in 1889 by William Adolph Baillie-Grohman. The canal was designed to divert some water from the Upper Kootenay into the Columbia in order to reclaim agricultural land from a lower Kootenay Lake around Creston. Various interests convinced the government to limit the ambitious plans to a navigational canal. Unfortunately the second paddlewheeler to go through he locks, in 1902, got stuck and the locks were demolished to free the ship, ending the canal's useful life. The town has since serviced the area's logging and mining companies, and still has a large logging and sawmill.
The area has several great recreational opportunities, including Canal Flats Provincial park, Th'Flats Golf Course, and hiking trails off Findlay Creek Road. Findlay Falls is accessible by trail at km 7.5, and further up the road is Whitetail Lake (for fishing and recreation), and the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy.
Canal Flats Wilderness Rendezvous (July 1), Logger Sports Competition.
Canal Flats Provincial Park
2 km north of town, east side of Columbia Lake
This day-use park is popular with swimmers, boaters and windsurfers. Great views of the Rocky Mountains and Columbia Lake.
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