History and mystery abound at "The Mermaid", presently the oldest building on the Kootenay Lake still in operation.
We are proud to announce the completion of recent renovations to our Deluxe Kitchenettes in June 2013, They now prove to be the most reasonably priced, luxurious units in Ainsworth as they are capable of sleeping up to 6 persons, with fully equipped kitchenettes and all units have private balconies overlooking the lake and mountains. Mermaid guests can also enjoy extra perks such as free Wi-fi, Satellie TV/Radio and the on-site, outdoor Hottub/Jacuzzi thats open year-round.
The Hot Springs caves were first discovered by the native
Kootenai Indians who would avail themselves to the healing waters, to soothe their aches and pains. When the gold rush hit, miners hoped to strike a rich vein from within the walls of the caves but could only find more hot water, eventually abandoning the idea of mining that particular cave and settled for soaking in the cave waters instead.
The historical lodge was originally built in 1891, by Sheriff Henry Anderson. Anderson was famous for apprehending 'The Bluebell Murderer' at the Bluebell mine site in Riondel. Because there were no railroads to transport the prisoner to trial, they had to endure a 3-day trek on horse-back across the treacherous Rocky Mountains to Vancouver. After three long years, Robert Sproule was found guilty of the murder, and was hung for the crime based on circumstantial evidence.
Sheriff Anderson died mysteriously in 1894 at the young age of 52 and all the medical/death records were extracted to avoid disclosure of the nature of his death. Some suspect it was suicide!
Ainsworth was a scheduled stop for sternwheeler passengers, who would stop at Ainsworth to soak in the hot springs and enjoy a scrumptious home-made meal at "The Welcome Inn" (present day Mermaid), which would consist of: Soup w/bread, roast chicken, potatoes, 2 vegetables, and a fruit pie, for a mere 25 cents.
** Coming Soon **
Our Commercial Kitchen expansion
offering our motel guests Room Service and Take-Out Food
Service. We can't offer you those $0.25 dinners anymore, but
you will be guaranteed great food and value. We will also
cater to small celebrations such as Birthdays, Weddings,
There was a huge fire in 1896 that wiped out the entire town, with exception of two buildings near the lake and The Mermaid. Charred timbers underneath the lower west part of the building attest to just how close the fire came to destroying The Mermaid. Because the school-house was destroyed in the fire, school classes were temporarily held in one of the large rooms upstairs, until other arrangements were made.
After Sheriff Anderson's death and the fire of 1896, Hannah Anderson sold the lodge to the Scott family who added on some additional units, to survive the depression years.
In 1974, Stella Robertson purchased the lodge and renamed it "The Mermaid Lodge" perhaps as a tribute to the abundance of human mermaids who would avail themselves to not only the soothing waters of the Hot Springs Pools and Caves but to the Glacier fed, crystal clear waters of the pristine Kootenay Lake.
There is humorous story about the sign Stella made for her newly named "Mermaid Lodge". It seems it ruffled a few feathers because her Mermaid not only had bare breasts, it also had nipples painted on them. Stella soon covered the nipples over to restore her good name with the female residents of Ainsworth. She then proceeded to give the old lodge a face-lift while she enjoyed her little paradise and continued to welcome guests until her untimely death at the young age of only 54.
Stella and her best friend were murdered before the murderer turned the gun on himself, in a tragic murder/suicide in 1979. Stella's family was devastated by their loss, but decided to fulfill their mother's dream of expanding the Mermaid Lodge to include not only the historical lodge but fully modern units as well. The Mermaid Motel
Kitchenette units were built in 1986, and boast panoramic balcony views of Kootenay Lake and Purcell Mountain Range.
The Gillies family have continued to grow over the past 32 years, offering their guests clean, quiet comfort at reasonable prices, while enjoying what they call their "labour of love". They continue to enhance and improve their facilities
and amenities, with the most recent renovations completed in
2008 and 2010.
Meeting interesting people from around the Globe, both famous and not-so-famous, has been one of the most rewarding aspects of living and working at The Mermaid.
Neil and Marsha Gillies consider themselves very privileged to have raised their three sons, Scott Cameron, and Kyle, without the aid of babysitters for the past
33 years. As a consequence, they are a very close family and their sons have decided to continue working and living close-by, to the thrill of their parents.
Hand crafted Gifts from previous guests:
The Lodge Lobby displays some of the very special hand-crafted gifts their guests have bestowed upon them over the years.
This handpainted watercolour of the historical lodge was painted by guest and good family friend Steve Kensock of Spokane, Washington.
In 1982 Michael Keifel visited The Mermaid Lodge and stayed in the historical room upstairs for the night. When checking out the following morning, he presented Marsha Gillies with a small piece of paper the size of a business card and identified himself as a 'poet of sorts'.
He went on to say that when he had returned to his room from the Hot Springs, he started thinking about this wonderful old lodge and jotted down a poem he called "The Mermaid Lodge".
This now, large calligraphied poem of 18" x 22", is prominently displayed in the main lobby, for all to appreciate. We anxiously await the return of the very talented Michael Keifel.