Celebrating 120 years of Revelstoke

The Revelstoke Museum and Archives is throwing a mystery party

Revelstoke became a city on Mar. 1, 1899. And 120 years later, Revelstoke Museum & Archives is celebrating this anniversary with an event that will give participants a chance to discover the history of our city while puzzling out a mystery.

We are pulling from a real-life dispute over incorporation to create our fictional mystery. Someone, believing that incorporation must be stopped, has stolen the incorporation papers, and they are hidden somewhere in the museum.

Was it J.M. Kellie, who strongly opposed incorporation at that time? Was it Wing Chung, a local businessman who worried that anti-Chinese sentiment would make it difficult for him to do business in Revelstoke? Or perhaps it was Lyda Holten, who was concerned that municipal liquor laws would impact her husband’s Enterprise Brewery. These and four other suspects will be at the event, providing clues and red herrings as everyone tries to solve the mystery.

Refreshments will be served and a cash wine-bar will be available. Period costumes are encouraged, but not mandatory. The event begins Mar.1 at 6:00 p.m. and continues until 8:00 p.m., or until the mystery is solved, and the successful detectives have been rewarded. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the museum.

Background:

Revelstoke had been an important railway community since the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, but was not incorporated as a city until 1899. A townsite dispute between original settler A.S. Farwell and the CPR delayed development of the community, and put Revelstoke in the midst of a land dispute between the Provincial and Dominion governments. One of the major issues was protection of the riverbank. Both levels of government were claiming the right to allocate land to settlers, but neither one would provide the money required to adequately provide protection from erosion. In the meantime, the equivalent of about 10 city blocks of land had already slid into the river, much of it near the current Community Centre.

J.M. (Pothole) Kellie, local member of the Provincial Legislature, believed that Revelstoke should not press for incorporation until the Provincial government made a commitment to provide riverbank protection. Members of the local Board of Trade disagreed, and insisted that Revelstoke needed to be incorporated before its needs would be taken seriously. Despite Kellie’s warnings, incorporation went ahead, and the Letters Patent for the Corporation of the City of Revelstoke were signed in Victoria on March 1, 1899.

The first civic election was held on March 22, 1899, with Florence (Frank) McCarty elected as the first mayor.

Contact Revelstoke Museum & Archives for more information.

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