Nelson, BC, incorporated as a city in 1897, population 10 230 (2011c), 9258 (2006c). The City of Nelson, named after Hugh Nelson, lieutenant-governor of BC, overlooks the west arm of Kootenay Lake. The prehistoric boundary of the Interior Salish and the Kootenay is nearby. In 1887 the Silver King Mine on Toad Mountain led to rapid growth in Nelson. The first railway in the Kootenays reached here in 1892; the Spokane Falls and Northern Railway (Burlington Northern) followed in 1894. Nelson soon became a transfer point for lake traffic and, with completion of the Crow's Nest Pass Railway and the Kettle Valley line (1898), developed as a railway maintenance and service centre.

A copper and leads smelter operated in Nelson from 1896 to 1907. Disease virtually eliminated fruit farming between 1920 and 1950. Logging and sawmilling have been intermittently important; a plywood plant and sawmill were closed in 1982. Nelson remains the administrative and service centre for the Kootenay region. The city's many heritage buildings have been restored since 1979, giving Nelson a charm that speaks of its early prominence. Nelson is home to 2 campuses of Selkirk College and to the Kootenay School of Arts. The restored Capitol Theatre is the city's main arts centre.