By Cathy English, Curator, Revelstoke Museum & Archives
In 1912, Revelstoke was one of the largest cities in the interior of British Columbia. As a divisional point for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and with rail and steamer links into the southern part of the Kootenays and the United States, Revelstoke was a major transportation hub. The city boasted a YMCA, complete with a full gym and a swimming pool, as well as an opera house, and the largest department store in the province outside of Victoria and Vancouver. Several new brick buildings had just been completed in downtown Revelstoke. Throughout the province, the government was updating its buildings, and Revelstoke was watching its new courthouse building taking shape.
The contract for Revelstoke’s new courthouse was awarded to the local firm of Foote and Pradolini in June of 1911. They were working with plans prepared by architect Thomas Hooper, who was responsible for several commercial and government buildings in Victoria and the lower mainland. By May of 1912, the base of the building was complete and a ceremony was planned to place the cornerstone of the building. The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of British Columbia (the Masonic Lodge) was in charge of the ceremony that was planned for May 2, 1912. A large procession was planned, including the city band, the Rocky Mountain Rangers militia, all of the school children from Selkirk and Central schools, and local magistrates, municipal and provincial officials, and the members of the Masonic Lodge.
As part of the ceremony, several items were placed inside the cavity of the cornerstone. The contents were a copy of the Grand Masonic Lodge of B.C. proceedings for 1911; a copy of the Mail-Herald newspaper of May 1, 1912; a list of the members of the Grand Lodge assisting in the laying of the cornerstone; four Canadian silver coins in the denominations of 50 cents, 25 cents, 10 cents and 5 cents; a list of the cabinet ministers of the Province of B.C.; a list of the court house staff in Revelstoke; a program of the day’s proceedings; and a list of the names of the Mayor and Council of the City of Revelstoke.
The Mail-Herald of May 4, 1912 described the laying of the cornerstone: “At a sign from the Grand Master, the great corner stone was swung up a few inches, and hung suspended over its bed, the strains of “The Maple Leaf Forever” were heartily sung by all present. The corner stone was raised once more, then dropped quietly into its place. Grand Master J. Burd tested same with his silver trowel. The square and the plumb were duly reported as correct…”
Later that evening, a grand banquet was held in the King Edward Hotel. The banquet included a program of toasts, speeches, recitations and songs, ending with the singing of “Old Lang Syne” at 1 a.m. the next morning.
Construction of the courthouse continued, with contractors Foote and Pradolini using the finest materials available. The massive granite blocks for the foundations were quarried in the Kootenays, while the marble panelling for the lobby came from the Lardeau region. Italian and native marbles were used for exterior decorative details. The four marble pillars supporting the portico were imported from the state of Georgia. The construction of Revelstoke Courthouse was completed in October 1913, at a total cost of $164,000.
May 2, 2012 ceremony
~Times Review staff
Some of the details of the ceremony are still being worked out, but here’s what we have so far.
It starts at 4 p.m on Wednesday, May 2. Confirmed attendees are Mayor David Raven and city CAO Tim Palmer. Government Agent Erich Breitkreuz will attend. Other organizations that will be represented include Masonic Lodge members, the Rocky Mountain Rangers, and Helen Grace, the granddaughter of a local official who was in attendance 100 years ago. Sharon Shook will sing songs including The Maple Leaf Forever, which was sung at the ceremony a century ago. Other musical acts may accompany her. The ceremony is expected to take about 30 to 60 minutes.