Rosslanders—a.k.a. the lucky people who call Rossland, in the southern interior of British Columbia, home—have a thing for the great outdoors. And why wouldn’t they? The town and its surrounding Seven Summits mountain peaks are blessed with trails for running and biking, rock faces for climbing and rushing rivers for kayaking. And with an annual snowfall of some seven metres (yes, you read that right), a ski resort with a slew of groomed as well as untamed ski runs and a bobsleigh race that sees daredevils bombing down city streets in garage-built toboggans, there’s no reason to be confined indoors even in the cold season.
The Josie Hotel, which opened at the end of 2018, banks on this love of nature. Kitted out with giant chandeliers fashioned from twigs and benches made of vintage chair-lift seats, its lobby makes a good first impression by blurring the lines between indoors and out. The 106-room property, located at the base of Red Mountain in the Monashee range, makes it easier than ever for visitors to get in on the local action, starting with the sleek wood-accented rooms themselves. They all feature floor-to-ceiling windows, making your indoor refuge into something like a 3-D weather station at the tip of your nose: just look out to see which SPF to slather on for the day and how many layers the other skiers and snowboarders are wearing. Then head down to the ski concierge, who will hand you your skis and a pair of warm, dry boots. They can even lend you a pair of snow pants if your zipper has broken or its colder than you’ve packed for.
When you’re ready to come in from the cold, the Josie (the name comes from one of the old gold mines on the mountain) is ready to serve up regional and seasonal fare at The Velvet Restaurant and Lounge. Thanks to award-winning chef Marc-André Choquette, you can refuel for your next day’s adventures with dishes like the Monashee green salad, baked French onion soup and confit rabbit with house-made pasta under the warm glow of red blown-glass lamps. For a moment of relaxation, grab a stool at the wrap-around bar and order the bourbon cherry sour, or head to SpaTerre, which lets you transition from deep snow to deep tissue with one of its massages.
The Josie offers direct access to resort skiing at historic RED Mountain Resort, with green to double-black trails divvied up among four peaks. You can even throw in some in-bound cat skiing here for a ridiculously reasonable $10 a ride. To get the lay of the land, sign up for a tour with a snow host; they’ll put you in a group suited to your ability and desire to go slow or go rogue. After you’ve burned your quads, stop by Rafters, the ski bar inside the base lodge for a pint and a tuna melt you’ll be talking about for months—all surrounded by old photos of the hometown legends who became some of Canada’s best skiers, Olympic medalists Nancy Greene and Kerrin Lee Gartner included.
What to do in Rossland
Big Red Cats
One of the biggest cat-skiing operations in the world, Big Red Cats typically runs five cats every day to bring powder hounds—from intermediate to uber-expert skiers and snowboarders—deep into treed backcountry terrain. Between runs, fill up on their energy-laden cookies and squares, made fresh daily in their restaurant/clubhouse and chock-full of peanut butter and sugar (you’ll need the boost). Yes, there are healthy sandwiches for lunch as well, but who’s counting calories?
Get lost on a pair of snowshoes in the white fluff around Rossland, then get “fondue” again with the help of Natasha Lockey from outfitter Kootenay Gateway. Lockey preps many of her fondue-in-the-wild outings (no experience necessary—just bring your appetite) by hand-digging a picnic table out of the snow, then lays out a spread of crunchy veggies and melted cheese as well as fresh fruit and molten chocolate. If snowshoeing isn’t your thing, you can sign up for other guided active pursuits with the company, including cross-country skiing and fatbiking in winter and mountain biking in summer. But we can’t guarantee they will also come with chocolate.
Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre
While Indigenous peoples have lived in this part of the Monashee range for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, Rossland as we know it today was built on silver. A mining boom took place here in the 1890s and on, and locals will tell you that the inside of Red Mountain looks like a Swiss cheese. Learn more about the tunnels underground and the lives of the miners who toiled in them, and, if they had energy left over after their shift, got into skiing thanks to Norwegian Olaus Jeldness, who is credited with bringing recreational skiing to Western Canada. (Jeldness is honoured for his legacy with a bronze statue in town.)
Where to eat and drink in Rossland
Rossland Beer Company
For après-ski in a lively room among friendly locals, Rossland Beer Company pours IPAs, red ales, lagers and everything in between. (There’s wine and soft drinks for those who don’t drink beer.) Even Mondays will see a full house at the 44-person-capacity brewpub. Don’t be surprised to find some furry patrons, who come inside with their humans to greet beer drinkers and other dogs.
Seven Summits Coffee Company
This tiny roaster is a bright spot for a quick espresso at the bar by the window or for a latte to go (you can buy a reusable cup here if you forgot to bring your own). The focus is on the beans here, but a few pastries are available if you need an additional pick-me-up with your java.
Rossland seems to be comprised of foodies—at least if you judge by the number of patrons at the restaurants in town—or maybe those people just don’t see a point to cooking at home. There’s no reason to, when you’ve got places like Clansey’s, which serves up hearty portions of classics like vegetarian chili, pizza and quesadillas. Don’t miss the innocent-sounding but rich-tasting broccoli and Brussels sprouts salad with roasted vegetables.
Alpine Grind Coffee House & Eatery
As the name spells out, Alpine Grind serves coffee—really good coffee, roasted by Oso Negro in Nelson, an hour away. But this bright spot on the main street, Columbia Avenue, also scores points for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No matter the time of day, pair your coffee with gluten-free baked goods, sit down for an egg frittata, grab a berry muffin to go, or stop by on a Friday for thin-crust Neapolitan pizza.