The St. Leon Hot Springs property is privately owned and is currently for sale.
Recently there was a developer interested in purchasing the land to create a multi-million dollar hotel, condominium complex, and golf course, with plans for the total reconfiguration of the hot springs for use as an exclusive resort and spa.
Approximately $300,000 was spent on feasibility studies for such an operation. However, the financial crash of 2008 temporarily put a damper on those plans, and the property was taken off the market at that time.
A portion of the property has been logged by the current owner, and now it is back on the market.
Now is the perfect opportunity to acquire the St. Leon property under the auspices of a benevolent society, whose goal is to secure universal public access to the land and the hot springs, so that all who are in need are able to partake in the healing waters.
** HISTORY OF THE ST. LEON HOT SPRINGS (written by Rosemarie Parent from the Arrow Lakes Historical Society publications and archival information) **
St. Leon Hot Springs was one of several hot springs that were developed in the early days because of its setting and beautiful sandy beach. Mike Grady, owner of the springs, advertised in 1898 that baths were free but accommodations were $1.25 per day, which was relatively expensive for those days. The lodgings were obviously for men only because they were fairly crude, but lumberjacks and miners were used to such conditions.
Even at this time, Mike was trying to persuade the CPR to develop this beautiful site into a Banff-like operation, but without success. This was likely due to the company’s association with Halcyon Hot Springs, which did not encourage competition.
In 1904, Mike sold his Standard Mine in the Slocan and took the money to build his dream hotel on the delta of St. Leon and Halfway Creeks. The entire hotel was constructed of clear lumber, mostly cedar. Even the pools, which were centered near the lobby, were made of wood, with the ladies’ pool directly above the men’s. The moldings and banisters were wooden with no paint or varnish used anywhere. Molly and Louise Smith, Mike’s nieces, scrubbed this woodwork clean every day.
The water was piped with some difficulty, almost two miles from the source. By the time it got to the hotel, it was only tepid. Mike fashioned a series of coils in a large ditch for the water to run through and be reheated. A cordwood fire burned continuously there summer and winter. It was not pretty but it was effective. The hotel attracted many visitors and the business prospered.
Tourism increased each year and a plan was promoted for the Arrow Lakes to take advantage of the hot springs potential for greater development. The CPR announced in 1910 that the Bonnington, the largest sternwheeler in the southern interior, was to be built in Nakusp shipyard starting that fall. It was completed in 1911 with much fanfare, sports events and a dance in the evening. However, because St. Leon did not have a wharf like Halcyon Hot Springs did, the loading and unloading of passengers and freight was hindered. The boats had to land on the beach instead.
Both Halcyon and St. Leon were deeply affected by the war. Patronage almost stopped at times. Prohibition in 1916 also discouraged many faithful customers from making the long trip, especially off-season. Finally the hotel was closed and the hot water was disconnected, opening only for a month or two in the summer. Mike was persuaded to survey a portion of his 230 acres into lots that could be sold for cottages and tents. By 1915, there were ten little houses built and tenting became very popular.
Over the years, John Olson of Galena Bay visited Mike whenever possible to make sure he was all right. About 1940, he and son Peter decided that they would take him to the Olson home to look after him, because he could no longer be on his own. Two years later, he went to a home for seniors in Kamloops, where he died in 1944.
Mike sold the springs in 1933 to Grace Rixon of Revelstoke and then in 1945, she sold to Ed Gates. He changed the name to Gates of St. Leon and tried to develop the springs into a spa. In those days, Ed wanted the springs to be reachable by boat only, but businessmen in Nakusp were convinced a highway was necessary. The CPR was determined to take the SS Minto out of service, leaving Halcyon and St. Leon stranded without access to food, goods, patrons and services. This was accomplished on April 24, 1954 and from then on the hotels could only be reached by small pleasure boats. After a few years, it became impossible to keep the facility going and Ed closed his 28-room hotel and sold off the contents at a sale in Nakusp.
When talk of a dam on the Arrow Lakes became serious in the 1950s and 1960s, a recommended Low Arrow dam would have meant little damage and minimum flooding on the Arrow Lakes. However, this was not to be. A High Arrow dam was decided upon and changed the lakes forever. This would have completely covered the St. Leon Hotel. Ed and BC Hydro had been negotiation a settlement, when on November 9, 1968, a mysterious fire left the building in ashes.
** CURRENT STATE OF THE PROPERTY **
The parcel that is for sale is 390 acres. There are no standing buildings on it at this time. The land includes:
- 1600 feet of waterfront along Arrow Lake, with a beautiful sandy beach.
- Waterfalls and rapids along St. Leon Creek.
- Wooded areas for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping.
- Open areas for the potential setup of a healing retreat and eco-friendly education center.
- Approved campground between Highway 23 and the beach.
- Hot Springs with approximately 25,000 gallons of hot water per day.
- Cold creeks near the hot springs for cooling pools as necessary, and for clean drinking water.
- Sunshine, mountains, fresh air, wild and raw forested areas, and lots of space for meditation, reflection, and healing!
** OUR PROPOSAL **
We are currently in negotiations with the owner to create a situation in which we can purchase the land and have all rights over it for the above stated purposes.
The St. Leon land is perfectly suited for campgrounds, a healing retreat, and a sustainable intentional healing community.
We are also in talks with filmmakers for the documentation of this process so that those who are wishing to do the same can learn from our experiences.
** WHAT WE NEED **
Before we can access the land, we need to raise $50,000 for a deposit and legal fees. This is the first step! This will secure an option to purchase the land, registered on the property title, and allows us to commence leasing the property in order to raise the $500,000 down payment. Financing of $2million is already secured.
For clarification, here is the basic process:
STEP ONE = Raise $50,000 ($12,600 already raised!) for the deposit. When that is done, we get to lease the property and gain access, create temporary structures, and inhabit the land.
STEP TWO = Raise funds and take donations of the following:
-Temporary Structures (Tipis, Yurts, Tents, Geodesic Domes, etc...)
-Landscaping to flatten the area where the campground will be, between Highway 23 and the Beach
-Massage Tables and Screen Tents for setting up healing stations all over the property
-Bear-proof trashcans and recycling repositories (like the ones in national parks)
-Other items as necessary, will have more info when that time comes.
STEP THREE (which is actually part of STEP TWO, it will all be done simultaneously) = Raise $500,000 (including lease payments up to this point, and the $50,000 from the deposit) for a down payment in order to exercise the option to purchase the land and hold it in the name of the St. Leon Hot Springs Society for all to enjoy.
At this point, the owner has already agreed to finance our purchase, to the tune of $2 Million. That part is done! No need to deal with banks.
STEP FOUR = Create a beautiful vision for generations to come!
Please consider your love for the earth, for hot springs, for camping, for nature, for hiking/biking/horseback riding, for lounging on a beautiful sunny beach, and for respite deep in the heart of our Mother Earth. If you feel so compelled, please donate so that we can secure this land for the use of all, not just for those who have lots of money to go to a resort!
How can you help right now?
*Spread the word and LIKE us on Facebook!*
*Love the Earth*
*Love those around you*
Thank you for your time, please go to the address below to donate!
(Interac coming soon...)
Watch this page for updates!
St. Leon Hot Springs Society is a non-profit society formed expressly for the purpose of preserving universal public access to the hot springs property. http://www.savethehotsprings.org Donate: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted