Ethel Bell, the co-founder of Three Valley Gap near Revelstoke, one of the Interior’s iconic tourist destinations, died on Feb. 6 at the age of 88.
She and her late husband, Gordon Bell, founded and built the Three Valley Lake Chateau from the ground up in the 1950s, and worked hard to build the exemplary tourist destination which was integral to the foundation of the tourism industry in the area at the time.
The massive hotel with its vibrant red roof and the antiquities contained within Three Valley Gap sticks out to anyone driving along the Trans-Canada Highway near Revelstoke.
Bell was born in California on New Years Day in 1934. She grew up in Lompoc, California and later married her late husband there in 1953 before making Edmonton, Alta. their first home.
They started building the Three Valley Gap in 1959. According to a media release from Three Valley Gap, the Bell’s would pack up their four children and drive from their home in Regina to work all weekend and then drive back. Three Valley Motel opened in 1960 with seven motel rooms, seven seats in the coffee shop and a small museum.
The Bell Family moved permanently from Regina to Three Valley in 1964.
Their influence on Tourism in B.C. was felt beyond the chateau. Gordon Bell was a part of the group that created the province’s first Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC) organization in the province in 1975.
According to her obituary, Bell was a very talented musician and an athlete who loved playing football.
Sher received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, in 2012, for having made an outstanding achievement in public service, preserving Canadian history for future generations and for her pioneering spirit in helping build and operate a lasting legacy for her family while influencing the growth of tourism in B.C.
Three Valley Gap Chateau has now grown to include 200 rooms, gardens, restaurants, and over 30 furnished buildings in the Historic Ghost Town plus a railway roundhouse and antique car museum.
According to the media release, the Bell family’s younger generations will continue to operate the resort for years to come.
There will be a Celebration of Life for Ethel Bell at Three Valley Gap on May 12. Bell had requested that donations can be sent to the Revelstoke Hospital Auxiliary Society.
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