The North American mountain range that dominates the landscape called the Rocky Mountains stretches from the far north of Alaska all the way down the south of Mexico. It runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean and towers over the whole west cost of North America, dipping its most western part into the big ocean. It's eastern foothills extend into the endless prairie planes, which are famous for their seemingly never-ending wheat fields, that have become one of the most important sources of wheat: they are thus named the "bread basket of North America and the world".
These mountains also share a variety of faces, just like the other great mountain ranges of the world: the Himalayas, the Andes, or the Alps. From high-mountain plateaus to deserts, or lush rain forest, everything can be found here, and the variety will never tire the outdoor adventurer. Vast stretches of rolling countryside or desert can dominate for a thousand miles without the traveler ever realizing that he/she is actually within the influencing boundaries of the Rocky Mountains. Glimpses of glaciers can be seen from many highways carved through the Rockies: a reminder that we are at the tail end of an Ice Age. Many high mountain valleys and bowls are still so remote that they are visited only occasionally by determined hikers in the summer or adventure skiers in the winter.
This describes some of the habitat that can be encountered when you travel through the Kootenay Mountains of southeastern British Columbia. The roads cut into the sides of the mountains, allows swift travel, and the unwary voyeur can easily underestimate its rugged wilderness. The distance that can be covered in just one hour of leisurely driving your vehicle on one of these modern roadways could easily take several days to negotiate by the pioneers that opened this great country in search of gold, pelts, or just to quench their urge to search for adventure.
In the high alpine valleys the deep powder skier will find Nirvana (as close to heaven as one can possible be), and during the brief summer month in the high alpine valleys, the hardy hiker can be dazzled by the show of diverse colored flowers that give the landscape an intoxicating feel of beauty and a taste of paradise. To reach some of these remote places, one has to hike through steep, lush valleys heavy with vegetation, where the temperature and humidity can be high, and both the rare-seen mighty grizzly bear, as well as the mysterious marmot, make their homes. Weather changes can come quickly and the traveler always has to stay wary of it, not to get caught in a discomforting situation in which freezing temperatures in the middle of the summer on a high mountaintop might require a quick retreat. There are unlimited potentials of exploring this great outdoor backcountry paradise.
Originally the Natives Indians used mostly the natural waterways of the rivers and lakes to travel throughout this area. Only when the first prospectors discovered rich silver and lead outcroppings in the late 1800's, were some of the remote parts of the Kootenays explored and charted for the first time. The lure of adventure and getting rich lasted for only a short time; it left a legacy of the typical boom and bust towns of that time period. Evidence of mining activity can still be discovered beside old town buildings in very remote and inaccessible places. Mines that were prominent in silver production at the time, had their portals high up on the windswept mountain slopes, usually above 6000-7000 feet (or 1800-2000 meters).
Towns like Kaslo and Sandon were founded overnight, and became cities within only a very brief time period. Towns like these became a stage-off point for supplying mining camps with all provisions and mining equipment, as well as being a shipping center for the mined ore. Supply lines consisting of roads (subsequently railroads) were hewn out of the wilderness. Within a few years the sidewalks of the newly founded cities echoed with the footsteps of people from all walks of life. They came from all over North America and Europe seeking a better life and possibly striking it rich. The enormous amounts of money made by the few that got lucky, allowed lavish buildings (mainly hotels and saloons) to be erected that would boast to be the most modern north of San Francisco. In those times, that meant building with electricity and running water.
Even though it only lasted for a short time, the energy and vibration that must have penetrated the atmosphere in those hustling and bustling days can only be imagined. The towns have become much more tranquil and organized with only a few buildings dating back to the early days. Only the occasional hole or tailing dump reveals the once thriving mining activities, and everything else has been taken back by Nature.
This sets the background stage on which our authentic sourdough bread nurtures its roots. The backdrop of the Kootenay wilderness, only a stone's throw away, is just as embodied as the energetic pioneer spirit of bygone days. I am sure you can taste it with every bite, down to the last crumb or morsel of your sandwich: the Spirit lives on.
The Kootenays are renowned for its artistic community, and the City of Nelson boasts of being the Arts capital of Canada and maybe even North America, in density and number of artists per capita.
The Indians that traveled throughout the Kootenays before the white man came were a peaceful people, and the area provided them with plenty of food to last them throughout the winter months. There was plenty of fish and game, and to satisfy the sweet tooth, there were plenty of local huckleberries (blueberries), which grew big, and sweet on the surrounding hillsides.
It is hard to believe that the geology reveals that at the height of the last Ice Age (15 to 20 000 years ago) this area was still well within its grasp and the ice is estimated to have been between 2 to 3 kilometers thick covering, mountain tops to valley bottoms. As it thawed torrents of unimaginable amounts of water and ice would do the final carving and shaping of the beautiful mountains that are now covered in lush vegetation again.
Microorganisms lay in wait until favourable conditions would be reencountered, and the cycle of life would continue once again as it had for billions of years.
One specific area, the San Francisco valley has scientifically proven - with great expense - that it harboured a unique specie of sourdough bacteria that was subsequently named L.sanfrancisco to set it apart, and make it famous throughout the world.
For me this further proves my own theory that every region has its unique and authentic bacteria, and consequent flavor, which only needs to be awakened and discovered by a baker sensitive to and learned in the arts of traditional baking methods. This is the reason our bakery is named the "Kaslo Sourdough Bakery": our bread derives its authentic characteristic flavour and appearance from the local bacteria that thrives in the surrounding valleys and mountain slopes of the Kootenay Country. "Bon appetit."