Prospectors arrived in New Denver in 1892 and cobbled together the beginnings of a town on the shore of Slocan Lake. The name they gave to what was hardly more than a camp with only a few wooden buildings was El Dorado City. Early hopes were that the settlement would soon rival the boomtown cities that had sprung up during the California gold rush, but the golden moniker, in the absence of a major gold strike, was soon to change. The name that eventually stuck was another promotional effort, this time attempting to borrow the allure of Denver, Colorado.
Mineral extraction (silver plus a lot of minerals primarily used in industry) was the mainstay of New Denver’s economy for many years, but by 1929, the mining activity began to decline. For some memorable stories and artifacts, check out the Silvery Slocan Museum in the Old Bank of Montreal building at the bottom of Main Street. It’s also the Visitor Centre so it’s a great first stop before you begin your exploration of New Denver and area.
Nikkei Memorial Centre
During World War II, over 22,000 Japanese-Canadians were forcibly resettled from the West Coast into camps in the interior of BC; 4000 of these were resettled in New Denver. The Nikkei Centre on Josephine Street tells their story. The centre consists of five buildings, three of which are the original huts built in 1942. Inside you will see the furnishings used in daily life. At times two families occupied one hut, one family on either side of a common kitchen. Toilet facilities, rows of outhouses, are also preserved. Exhibits in the large central hall display the equipment, tents, desks and other luggage used by the Nikkei – all they had been allowed to keep or could build. The centre opens May 1.