Riondel, British Columbia

Riondel is a village of approximately 300 people in British Columbia. It is situated on the eastern shore of Kootenay Lake. It is 90 minutes from Nelson on the west shore, via the Kootenay Lake Ferry, known as the world's longest free ferry ride.

Hamlet of Riondel
Riondel, Riondel, Riondel Oh Hell Just call it good old Bluebell!
Riondel, British Columbia is located in British Columbia
Riondel, British Columbia
Location of Riondel in British Columbia
Coordinates: 49°45′49″N 116°51′23″W / 49.76361°N 116.85639°W / 49.76361; -116.85639Coordinates: 49°45′49″N 116°51′23″W / 49.76361°N 116.85639°W / 49.76361; -116.85639
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
Regional districtCentral Kootenay
 • Governing bodyRiondel Commission of Management
 • ChairmanGarth Saunders
 • Total0.7 km2 (0.3 sq mi)
 • Land0.70 km2 (0.27 sq mi)
576 m (1,890 ft)
 • Total253
 • Density361.2/km2 (936/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-8 (PST)
Postal code span
WaterwaysKootenay Lake
WebsiteCommunity of Riondel


The settlement of Riondel developed around a very productive silver, lead and zinc mine, known as the Bluebell mine. In 1882 an American named Robert Sproule staked four claims along the Riondel Peninsula, including the Bluebell mine. When he left to register his claims, an Englishman, Thomas Hammill, re-staked the claims. In the following dispute, Sproule shot Hammill dead for stealing his claim. Sproule was convicted of homicide and executed on the gallows for his crime.


In the 1890s the settlement was known as Hendryx, after Wilbur Hendryx, who had control of the Bluebell mine and other claims in the mid-1880s. In 1905 The Canadian Metal Company purchased the mine. In 1907 the settlement was named Riondel after Count Edouard Riondel, the president of the Canadian Metal Company.


Riondel is pronounced several different ways, even by locals: RYE-on-del and ree-ON-del are commonly heard. However, S.S. Fowler, who applied for the post office in 1907, wrote: “It is or should be pronounced Ree-on-del with accent very slightly on the first syllable,” as it was named after an ethnic French man.

Bluebell mineEdit

The Bluebell mine operated from 1895 to 1929, during which period the population of Riondel was stable at around 70 people. With the closure of the Bluebell mine in 1929, the population dwindled. By 1943 there were only 22 people left in Riondel.

In 1950 the Bluebell mine re-opened, and the population of Riondel soared to almost 300 people within three years. As the expansion of the Bluebell mine required more electricity, in 1952 Cominco built power lines across the Kootenay Lake, to bring power to the East Shore without the use of generators. Development included a smelter and a townsite. This mine has the longest history in the province of British Columbia.


From 1950, Riondel was a bustling, thriving mining town until 1972, when the Bluebell mine closed for good. Most people moved on to other nearby towns, while the older employees stayed in Riondel and retired. Riondel became a popular retirement community; at one time it had more seniors per capita than any other postal code in Canada.


Today Riondel is a tidy village with streets, a lakeside campground, beach, community centre, playground, cable TV system, 9-hole golf course, grocery and liquor store, cafe, and pub. In April, 2006 Riondel was connected with dial-up internet provided by Telus.

Riondel DazeEdit

During the weekend of the Civic Holiday, Riondel hosts an annual celebration called Riondel Daze. The Historical Society of Riondel usually has its vintage ambulance, a 1949 Mercury, at the event. Other elements are a ball tournament with a hot dog stand, local music, and a stand-still parade.


Riondel is located on Riondel Road on the eastern shore of Kootenay Lake, 6 miles (10 km) north of Kootenay Bay, the eastern terminal of the Kootenay Lake ferry. Riondel is a 1-hour drive from Creston, British Columbia, and a 90-minute drive from Nelson, British Columbia, on the western shore, using the Kootenay Lake Ferry, known as the world's longest free ferry]]ride.


  • The Waterfront Trail in Riondel follows 1.5 km of the lakeshore from the south end of North Bay beach;
  • Pebble Beach Trail 7 km north of Riondel leads from the Kootenay Lake East FS Road to a south-facing, pebbled beach;
  • 15-minute Pilot Bay Lighthouse Trail near Kootenay Bay leads to an historic 1907 lighthouse;[1]
  • The one-hour Pilot Bay Marine Park Trail leads through varying terrain as it follows the lakeshore;
  • Plaid Lake Hiking Trail near Crawford Bay is a full-day hike to the alpine Plaid Lake on the west side of the Purcell Mountains;
  • Duck Lakes Dykes Trail near Sirdar offers miles of almost level hiking through some of the richest waterfowl habitat in British Columbia.


There are two golf clubs to choose from; the 9-hole, Par 3 course at the Riondel Golf Club, located on Galena Bay Wharf Road 10 minutes from the Kootenay Lake Ferry, and the 18-hole championship Kokanee Springs Golf Resort in Crawford Bay, a 20-minute drive to the south.


Kootenay Lake maintains considerable populations of various fish species, including kokanee, rainbow and cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden, burbot, and whitefish. Kootenay Lake supports record-sized Rainbow Trout. The world's largest recorded kokanee - almost 10 pounds (4.5 kg) - was taken from Kootenay Lake. Kokanee (Kekeni) means 'red fish' in the Sinixt Interior Salish language. It is the name given to the land-locked salmon that spawn in large numbers in Kokanee Creek in the late summer. The best fishing time is in the fall and winter months.


Other outdoor opportunities in Riondel include canoeing or kayaking the waters of the 75-mile long and 5-mile wide Kootenay Lake (rentals available), swimming, wildlife and nature viewing, boating and sailing, horsedrawn adventures, and backcountry exploration. A youth group at the Riondel Recreation Centre plays floor hockey on Sundays and other games such as pool and air hockey; they also have movies available.

The Riondel Community Centre is located in a former school, and it has an auditorium for community events. The Centre houses the Riondel Art Club, the Riondel Seniors' Society, the Riondel Commission of Management, Riondel Community Library, and the Historical Society. Children may play on the playground outside.


The private Riondel Campground is located 1 km from the Riondel General Store. A second campground and RV park is located 12 km north of Riondel.


  1. ^ The History of Pilot Bay Lighthouse on Kootenay Lake / Hulland, Susan, 1946-1997

Further readingEdit

  • Bluebell Memories by A. Terry Turner
  • A Recollection of Moments: Riondel 1907-2007 by Wendy M E Scott