Mother Nature’s Ancient gift
It all began with the first explorers…
As the records show, what is now Fairmont Hot Springs Resort was initially discovered in the 1800s. Explorers were lured to the area by a distinctive odour – it turned out to be the unmistakable and aromatic smell of sulphur, which wafted through the valley.
Following their noses, they stumbled upon the source. They had been the first and foremost to discover the figurative gold mine that is the mineral hot springs and all its curative powers. Sulphur is a natural element that permeates the waters of many natural mineral hot springs; and thanks to its pungent aroma, the hot springs had officially been put on the map.
The Many Changing of Hands
The first homesteader in the area was the Englishman George Geary. Geary arrived in the area in 1887 and his homestead was a vast tract of land that included the hot springs.
The original Geary home is still well preserved and visible on the south end of Mountainside Golf Course. Geary departed in 1888, turning over his holding to Sam Brewer, who came to Canada from the U.S.
Sam Brewer operated a stagecoach stop, and his historic home in Fairmont Hot Springs is still inhabited to this day. The Resort’s Brewer’s Market is named in honour of this early pioneer. The name Fairmont Hot Springs was given to the area by Mrs. John Galbraith, wife of a ferry operator at Galbraith’s Landing, located near Fort Steele, about 23 km from Cranbrook.
In the early 1900s W. Heap Holland, a manufacturer from England, arrived in the area. Intrigued by the hot water, he purchased the property from Sam Brewer and operated it as a ranch and resort.
From Then ‘Til Now
The original wooden Holland Barn is still a well-known landmark in Fairmont Hot Springs, located at the entrance to Mountainside Golf Course. Holland’s son took over as an absentee owner after Holland’s death, and installed a manager in residence.
In 1957, two Saskatchewan brothers, Earl and Lloyd Wilder, purchased the property with a group of Invermere businessmen. At that time, the hot spring resort consisted of a few tent cabins, surrounding one small pool with outdoor changing rooms.
Shortly after purchasing the property, the Wilder brothers bought out the other investors and, by 1965, Lloyd had purchased Earl’s share and became the sole owner and entrepreneur. He immediately began the major expansion over 40 years that resulted in the basis of the resort we see today.
In 2006, Canadian investment group Ken Fowler Enterprises acquired Fairmont Hot Springs Resort; the following year it acquired Riverside Golf Course. Since then the BC resort has upgraded and improved many facilities including the golf courses and ski area, opened new dining venues, and developed Mountainside Ridge.