Nelson has 350 designated heritage buildings, more per capita than any other city in western Canada save Victoria. Most can be viewed by walking around the downtown core between Baker and Vernon Streets.
Pick up the detailed Heritage Walking Tour or Heritage Motoring Tour brochures from the information center. The walking-tour brochure includes the 1909 courthouse on Ward Street and the impressive stone-and-brick 1902 city hall on the corner of Ward and Vernon Streets.
Organized by the local arts council, Nelson’s July–September Artwalk (250/352-2402) highlights the work of up to 100 local artists at venues across the city. Works are displayed citywide at restaurants, hotels, the theater building, art galleries, and even the local pool hall.
On the last Friday of every month of the event, receptions are held at each of the venues. The receptions feature live entertainment, refreshments, and the artists themselves on hand to discuss their work.
A brochure available at the information center and motels and galleries around town contains biographies of each featured artist, tells where his or her work is displayed, and provides a map showing you the easiest way to get from one venue to the next.
Right downtown, Touchstones Museum (502 Vernon St., 250/352-9813, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. in summer, Tues.–Sat. noon–4 p.m. the rest of the year, adult $10, senior and child $6) is in a grandly ornate stone building that was originally built in 1902 as a post office. Permanent exhibits concentrate on local history, with displays covering native peoples, explorers, miners, traders, early transportation, Nelson’s contribution to World War I, and the Doukhobors (a Russian religious sect that settled in the Kootenays).
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition