The latest local hotspot in Canal Flats 

By Haley Grinder

Kootenay Kool— a new art studio and gallery in Canal Flats— will finally open its doors to the public this weekend. After four long years in the making, owners Kevan and Joi Leycraft, have turned their vision into a reality. The studio will feature canvas photography, paintings, sculptures, and beadwork from local artists. Located conveniently along Highway 93/95 and beside their other business—the Hit-n-Run Snack Shack—the pair hope to become a popular tourist attraction as COVID restrictions begin to ease up.

Although the Leycrafts held their soft opening in July, their grand opening will be held on Friday, Sept. 3 and Saturday, Sept. 4 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Snack Shack will be closing at 6 p.m. both days so Joi can focus on preparing the appetizers for attendees. Those wanting to see the gallery prior to the event can do so from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The husband and wife duo are multitalented and provide endless amounts of inspiration for the future of Kootenay Kool.

 A humble artist of tie-dye clothing and psychedelic pieces—Joi also specializes in the art of food, with 35 years of cheffing experience. When she was younger, she would spend her summers “as a camp cook in a gold mine in the Yukon.” Winters took her to the west coast, where she spent her time “volunteering as a hot lunch lady at the high school and as a food mentor for youth groups.” Now, she’s putting her all into the Snack Shack and Kootenay Kool. 

Kevan is an artist, musician, and patented inventor, who even has two patents on ski bike designs. His unique talents made him a successful artist, prototype builder, and even a gizmologist (someone who builds props that perform) on the hit Disney show, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Some of his latest inventions and gizmos are showcased within the gallery.

 Kootenay Kool is also currently accepting local artist’s work. Joi says, “the original idea was to empower people to become commercial artists. To let people become artists in their own right and be able to make enough money to survive without having a job.” The pair also says they are excited to help out their town’s economy, which — like most places— is still recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic.

Canal Flats own, Syd Danis, provides much of the photography that attendees will see this weekend, while Bill Doroshuk, Public Works Forman at Village of Canal Flats, showcases his artwork, along with a multitude of other talented locals.

Although they are still waiting for the proper permits, the two wish to provide a coffee house atmosphere in the future, equipped with live music, coffee, and dessert. They are eager to offer a spot for people to socialize again.  

“Once the license is in place, and once the COVID restrictions allow, on Friday nights we will have snacks with trivia or other games from 6 to 9 p.m.,” says Joi. Saturday nights will boast appetizers or dinner with karaoke, dances, or other patron participation events from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays will host ‘open mic’ nights, equipped with live music, coffee and desserts from 6 to 9 p.m. 

The Leycrafts are excited to become a hot spot within Canal Flats. However, they are still wary of the public’s safety, following proper sanitization, masking, and social distancing measures.