The buried remains of Kootenae House are marked by a stone cairn on a terraced grassland high above the valley where Toby Creek meets the Columbia River. This is where the North West Company built the first trading post in the Columbia Basin in 1807, followed by posts in modern-day Washington, Montana and Idaho.
Kootenae House served the Ktunaxa people of the Rocky Mountains, who traded survival skills, furs, salmon and horses for tools and cooking implements brought by 19th century European traders. It was a meeting place between cultures and home base for British-Canadian explorer and surveyor David Thompson, who embarked from here on quests to build trading relationships and survey and map the Columbia and Kootenay rivers.
At Kootenae House, stop to read the interpretive panels and the plaque on the cairn, while stepping among long shadows cast by storied characters in Canadian history.