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Posted: September 4, 2019

Invermere landmark closing

Kootenay Crust

By Ian Cobb

Op-Ed Commentary

Another powerful symbol of the original Invermere – the one that preceded the stampede to the sides of Lake Windermere and the slopes and waters of Panorama, Fairmont Hot Springs and Radium Hot Springs – is closing.

Strand’s Old House Restaurant, or site four on the Invermere Historical Tour, is closing for good.

The legendary business came from a sleepier Invermere, known as a hidden gem to the lucky who found the Columbia Valley as a place to call home or visit every weekend.

It originally housed the first doctor to practice between Golden and Cranbrook – Dr. Filmer Coy.

According to the Windermere District Historical Society: “In 1946, Mr. and Mrs. Ian Weir purchased the house. Mrs. Weir operated the first kindergarten in Invermere from their home for many years. The Weirs sold the house to Tim Strand who opened the restaurant on the site.”

Shortly after opening in 1979/80, Strand turned the restaurant into the place to be in the Columbia Valley, in terms of fine and fun dining, along with current owner Tony Wood, who established the restaurant’s renown as chef. He and wife Romy later purchased the business.

Wood stated on Facebook Sept. 3 that he is closing the long-time dining landmark.

“Sadly, Strand’s is now closed permanently. Continual staff shortages have made it impossible to carry on. Thanks to everyone for your support over the years,” he said.

An inability to find enough or adequate staffing has been a bane for most restaurateurs and pub owners throughout the Kootenays the past few years.

News of Strand’s closing has created an outpouring of thanks and appreciation on social media, and for good reason. Strand’s rocked.

Some of this writer’s fondest memories of living in the Columbia Valley were created at Strand’s – whether intimate dinners or gatherings with some of the community’s best and brightest sons and daughters in the fabulous Beirut Room, so called for its unfinished (or bombed out) look.

Rustic and the antithesis to the elegance of the upstairs dining rooms, ‘the Beirut Room,’ with its little record collection and player, overhead footfalls and chair leg scrapes and other quirks and quarks, gave one the sense that they had stepped into the heart of Invermere – that a special treat or gift had been bestowed.

I cemented friendships with some of the finest people I’ve ever known in Strand’s (and re-discovered the joy that is a perfectly cooked rack of lamb) and I thank Tim and Tony and company for that.

It is possible the legendary Roger Madson first stated, “are we having fun yet?” in Strand’s.

It is now time for you and Romy to go have some fun Tony. Thanks to everyone associated with your restaurant for the great times experienced by so many thousands of visitors and locals.

A myriad of traditions will be changing forever as you shutter the doors.

And the echoes of old Invermere fade even more.

– Ian Cobb is editor/owner of e-KNOW

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