Cathy English at the Revelstoke Museum & Archives gave her first Brown Bag History talk of the year last Wednesday. The topic was Revelstoke in 1912 and, as usual, she was able to dig up lots of interesting tidbits about the town in that year.
Here are some highlights:
– The indoor skating rink burned down on New Year’s Day. The newspaper reported the fire was caused by a coal heater exploding. The fire broke out a little after 5 p.m., after public skate had ended. There were only a few maintenance workers in the arena when the explosion happened. “Luckily only one was injured but the building was a total loss,” English said. The skating rink wasn’t rebuilt until 1924.
– The second annual poultry show featured more than 300 birds, including some from out of town. However, one of the top competitors from Enderby couldn’t make it due to the weather.
– In the category of things staying the same, the city held its annual ratepayers meeting and elections in early January. Town administrators were disappointed in the turnout. “People were complaining about how the city was being run but nobody came out to express their concerns and ask questions,” said English. “That’s why I like going through the newspapers, because it’s usually a case of the same old thing. The more things change the more things stay the same.”
– The classifieds advertised a house on Second Street for rent for the tidy sum of $15 per month.
– A man was injured in a showshoeing collision. Wait, what? The newspaper reported that one Mr. Rutledge was run into by his companion and was injured. Fortunately he fully recovered. “Extreme showshoeing,” English joked.
– Dr. W.H. Sutherland was appointed mayor by acclamation. The city used a ward system for electing alderman and in only one ward was there actually a race for a spot. Later that year, MLA Thomas Taylor was also elected by acclamation.
– Machinist Daniel Jackson died when an avalanche hit a train at Lauretta crossing on Jan. 17. He left behind a wife and seven children and CP Rail didn’t want to compensate them because Jackson wasn’t scheduled to be on that train.
Dr. Hamilton was on the train as well and was nearly buried by the snow. He was in the superintendents car when the avalanche hit. He told the newspaper that the avalanche drove the car 60 feet down an embankment and filled the car with snow six feet deep. He had just about give up hope of rescue when he was dug out. “The newspaper said he was planning on taking a trip to restore his nerves after the ordeal,” said English.
– In other tragic incidents, also on Jan. 17, Walter Taylor was killed after being crushed by a tree at Ferguson mines. On Jan. 27, train engineer George Morris slipped off the foot board and was crushed by the wheels of the train west of Revelstoke. On Mar. 6, a collision at Three Valley Gap killed fireman Duckworth. On May 8, Harry K. Mennell, the janitor of the YMCA, was found drowned in the YMCA swimming pool. In June, engineer W.H. Jolliffe was killed in a head-on collision at Tappen, about 100 kilometres west of Revelstoke.
– An article touted Revelstoke’s potential as both a summer and winter tourist destination. In a great example of the flowery newspaper writing of the time, the author wrote: “The time will come when the winter sports of Switzerland – tobagganing, snowshoeing, skiing, will bring here people from all parts of the world to enjoy the bracing winter air and invigorating winter sports that make for health and pleasure, as the ski-runner drinks the wine of the wind in his lightning runs down the mountain slopes.”
– The Caledonian Society held its first Burns Supper at the Windsor Hotel. The newspaper described the event as follows: “There were burly men and smiling matrons, braw lads and sonsy kimmers, at whom it was a pleasure to gaze upon full of health and glee.”
– Former Revelstoke resident R.P. Pettipiece was jailed in Vancouver for his support of women’s voting rights. He was acquitted.
– Swim lessons at the YMCA were a mere 10 cents.
– A. Carlson got more than 100 individuals and businesses, as well as the city medical health officer, to endorse the quality of his milk. He was accused of watering it down.
– On Feb. 28 a bridge was built across the Illecillewaet River.
– The cornerstone was laid on the Revelstoke Court House in the spring. It was built by local contractors Foote & Pradolini.
– The Dominion Sawmill re-opened after being placed in receivership. The mill aimed to employ only white labour, if possible. The Hotel Climax had the same hiring policies.
– In the biggest news of the year, the Board of Trade formed the Revelstoke Progress Club in order to promote tourism in Revelstoke. About 150 people attended the initial meeting and 123 paid $1 each to be members. A 30-member, all male board consisting of mostly the old guard (according to English) was formed.
The club’s significance is that they formed the lobby group that led to the establishment of Mt. Revelstoke National Park. Early talks about the park called for a road to the summit and a CP resort and golf club at the summit.
The club adopted a slogan for Revelstoke: The Capital of Canada’s Alps. The alternatives were “Revelstoke: The mountain magnet,” “The Rockies scenic city,” “Three Rs: railways, rivers and resources,” and “The golden best of the golden west.”
They also promoted local shopping, the main competition at the time being the Eaton’s catalogue.