Rossland Heritage Walking Tour

Page 1

ROSSLAND The Golden City

Heritage Walking Tour

A Colourful History Lured by discoveries of gold in the Kootenays, a man named Ross Thompson, who Rossland was later named for, arrived at the Rossland camp in 1891. Convinced of the camp’s bright future, Thompson acquired a crown grant for a pre-emption of 160 acres which now encompass the City of Rossland. The call of GOLD echoed across the land - the rush was on! The population exploded as prospectors and entrepreneurs poured into town seeking their fortunes. And fortune there was. The biggest mine, the LE ROI, grossed over $30 million dollars.

Ross Thompson

By 1898 Rossland was booming. There were 4 banks, 7 newspapers, a stock exchange and 42 saloons doing business 24 hours a day. The International Music Hall and Opera House provided places for touring vaudeville shows, prize fights and classic opera. Hotel rooms cost as much as $10 a night and those who couldn’t afford the luxury could rent a chair at the International for one dollar and stay until morning. The sudden onslaught of construction was a declaration of the pioneers’ healthy optimism. The wooden composition of the buildings reflected the spontaneity of the boom town. The vernacular “Western False Front” architecture which characterized most western boom towns was the most popular style. Several large buildings were erected composed of brick, stone and granite from a city quarry. These buildings offered a refreshing permanence and a confident stability to the newly erected town. There

are 31 buildings and sites today which qualify as heritage buildings, most of which are included in the Heritage Walking Tour. The buildings constructed in Rossland during the gold mining era are called our heritage buildings. The gold mines closed in 1927 and two serious fires in the Downtown Area, the first in 1927 and the second in 1929, destroyed many buildings along both sides of Columbia Avenue, bringing that productive and exciting era to a disastrous close. Fire was always a threat to Rossland, so many buildings being of wooden construction and many fine structures have been lost forever - churches, hotels, halls, schools and the block known as Chinatown. This brochure was produced in June of 2013 by Tourism Rossland in association with the Rossland Heritage Commission with funding from the Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiative Funding. Photographs published with permission from the Rossland Museum design by Empire New Media |

Experience Rossland’s History at The Rossland Museum and the Gold Fever Follies

Walking Tour Map

ROSSLAND 1. THE MINERS’ UNION HALL, 1765 Columbia Ave The Western Federation of Miners became an international union when Rossland received its charter in 1895. The Rossland branch was very instrumental in bringing about important Canadian legislation concerning the eight hour work-day and workers’ compensation. The hall, a three-storey building of High Victorian architecture is an interesting example of practical elegance. Constructed by the Federation in 1898, the sturdy building is the only Miner’s Union Hall existing in Canada. The hall hosted many spectacular events including traveling vaudeville shows, political rallies and a World Heavyweight Boxing exhibition. The hall was both a hotbed of union activity and a social centre for the community. Renowned American lawyer, Clarence Darrow, union activist, Joe Hill, and future Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King were only a few of the famous people who conducted business in the Miners’ Union Hall.

Legend 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Planer Cres


Spokane St.

Miners’ hall

Third Ave

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

The Miners’ Union Hall Swimming Pool Burns & Co. Father Pat Memorial Bank of Toronto West Kootenay Power & Light Wallace Building The Velvet Block Mater Miseracordiae Hospital Tennis Courts Sacred Heart Catholic Church Rossland Courthouse Drill Hall Montreal Hotel Lalonde & Rodier Jordon block

St. Andrew’s United Church Rossland City Hall / Fire Hall Post Office Bank of Montreal Collins Hotel Hoffman House Bodega Hotel Bellevue Hotel West Kootenay Substation Agnew & Co. Munn’s Bakery Liquor Store Hunter Brothers Department Store BC Telephone Kamloops Mining & Drilling Co.


Second Ave









Butte St.

St. Paul St.



Columbia Ave



7 8


to T r


Start Here


Park St.



2. SWIMMING POOL 1869 Columbia Ave. Rosslanders take pride in having the oldest outdoor swimming pool in the province and the fact that it has served the community so well, since 1932. The construction of the Rossland Swimming Pool is a testament to the community initiative and spirit




Georgia St.


23 22 21


Monte Christo St.



Queen St.

First Ave

Washington St.




of Rosslanders of the early 1930‘s - when the gold mines had finally closed and the Great Depression had begun. Land was donated by the City, Cominco donated the pump and individual fundraising provided the materials and volunteers, the organization and labour. 3. BURNS & CO- 1973 Columbia Ave This brick structure survived destruction by fire which claimed the frame buildings on either side of it. The building was constructed in 1906 by Pat Burns to house his butcher shop. Burns moved to Calgary to establish the P. Burns Meat Packing Co., but continued to operate the Rossland store along with his other stores in eastern BC. In 1944 Harold Elmes, a long time alderman and mayor of Rossland purchased the building and operated, "The Butcheteria" on the main floor. Today, this is the home of one of the two Medical Clinics in Rossland. 4. FATHER PAT MEMORIAL Henry Irwin, “Father Pat,” graduated from Oxford in 1881, and was ordained an Anglican Deacon in 1883. He came to Canada and first served at Donald, BC during the building of the C.P.R. After the tragic death of his wife and child he came to Rossland in 1896 and held his first service in the Opera House. Although a small church was built, Father Pat often took his ministries to the bar room. A dedicated and generous man, Father Pat befriended all the toughest miners. Despite his small stature and kind nature, he did not hesitate to use his well-educated fists if the occasion warranted it.

building and remained there until disbanding in 1968. Subsequently, it served as a carpenter shop and in the early 1970’s became Wayne’s T.V. 8. THE VELVET BLOCK- 2197 Columbia Ave The Velvet Hotel was a product of Rossland’s early years, 1897 1898, was valued at $3,000, a very handsome figure for a wooden building. In 1899, Jordon and Lockhart set up a furniture store and undertaking business inside. W.K. Esling, Rossland’s Gentleman Journalist,” bought the building in 1920 and used it as headquarters while he served as the Conservative M.L.A. in Victoria and later M.P. in Ottawa. When obtained by the Gospel Hall, the top story was removed. In 1930, it temporarily housed Rossland’s only miniature golf course.

Columbia Ave - 1896

6. WEST KOOTENAY POWER & LIGHT CO. – 2127 Columbia Ave In May 1897, the West Kootenay Power and Light Co. was incorporated to supply electricity to the mines of Rossland. This building, owned by Lorne Campbell, the first Manager of the Company, was leased to the W.K.P.&L. to house the head office. In 1930, the head office was move d to Trail and the company operated an electrical appliance store until the end of World War II. 7. WALLACE BUILDING- 2167 Columbia Ave This false front building was erected at the turn of the century. Lorne Campbell, manager of the West Kootenay Power and Light Co. owned this building which served as the Conservative headquarters. In 1923, the Salvation Army purchased the

12. ROSSLAND’S COURTHOUSE- 2288 Columbia Ave Rossland’s third courthouse since 1894 was completed in 1901 at a cost of $53,000. Designed by John J. Honeyman, a Scot who made his home in Rossland, the building characterizes late Victorian architecture with its symmetrical corner towers, highly pitched roof and almost fortress-like appearance. Exquisite woodwork and a large stained glass window dominate and dignify the courtroom. The large granite blocks which support the building were taken from a city quarry. In 1986 it was granted National Heritage status. 13. DRILL HALL- 2095 Monte Christo St. The brick and granite building was built during the Boer War in 1904 at a cost of $12,500. It served as the Rossland Drill Hall and was originally used by the Rocky Mountain Rangers. The 24-inch walls in the basement and the metal bars on the windows secured any weaponry stored there. The structure was used as a temporary school in 1917 when Central School burned down and again in 1981 when MacLean School suffered the same fate. In 1957 the Trail School Board bought the building from the War Asset Corporation for $150.

He left Rossland in 1899 because he felt it had become “too civilized” and he died shortly after. His memorial was a drinking fountain with horse trough and dog drinking pool. 5. BANK OF TORONTO- 2105 Columbia Ave The “Stone” Block construction in 1896 was the first non-wood building erected in Rossland. The structure is easily recognized by its random rubble stone, plain pediment and cutstone quoins. The Bank of Toronto conducted business within the new building. The Rossland Miner newspaper obtained the building after the bank closed. The building housed Penny’s Grocery Store in the 20’s. Steven’s restaurant in the 30’s and the C.S. Williams Clinic until 1967.

the parish for nearly 60 years and was loved by all. The original church had been on Davis Street near the Miner’s Union Hall. The first Catholic priest to visit Rossland, Father Bedard, conducted the Mass in the mines. The history of the Catholic church in Rossland is marked by interesting occurrences from Father Lemay’s errand of mercy, to Father MacKinnon’s death ride on a racehorse.

9. MATER MISERACORDIAE HOSPITAL- 1961 Georgia St In 1896, the boomtown of Rossland needed a hospital. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Newark, New Jersey responded by opening a temporary hospital in rented quarters on Columbia Avenue. Funds for a proper building were quickly raised and on July 4, 1897 the Sisters opened their new Mater Miseracordiae Hospital on Columbia Avenue and Georgia Street. The Sisters of St. Joseph operated the hospital for 72 years until 1969 when it was turned over to a local board. Over the years, the original hospital was replaced by a modern structure. 10. TENNIS COURTS 2630 Leroi St. The tennis courts were first built prior to 1907 and have served the community well for over one hundred years of continuous operation. For many of the early years there was an adjacent clubhouse for players and their friends. The playing surface has been refurbished a number of times but the beautiful vista remains. 11. THE SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH- 2414 Columbia Ave The present church was constructed in 1915 under the direction of Father A.K. MacIntyre. Popularly known as “Father Mac,” he served

14. MONTREAL HOTEL- 2196 Columbia Ave. In 1898, this building was erected as the Montreal Hotel. The main floor housed one of the 42 saloons on Rossland’s main street. It also contained a dining room, a club room and bedrooms in the attic, which were built in order to obtain a liquor license. In the 30’s, the building operated as an Okanagan fruit outlet, and then a corner grocery store. The building’s Western Vernacular style of architecture is characteristic of boom town buildings with it high peaked façade, false-front appearance, shiplap construction and lean-to at the rear. Today this building is commonly known as the O.K. Store. 15. LALONDE & RODIER BLOCK- 2116, 2118, 2132, & 2140 Columbia Ave The 1898 Lalonde’s Shoe and Boot Shop, the first in Rossland, occupied this building. In 1911, the building became part of the Jordon Block and Mr. Hardy, an undertaker opened a funeral parlour on the premises. 16. JORDON BLOCK- 2104-2110 Columbia Ave Constructed in 1898, the building served as a Hose Hall, storing fire apparatus until a new fire hall was built in 1900. Mr. James Jordan purchased this building and the one next to it and opened “the largest furniture store in the interior of BC.

f ire H al l

United Church

was common in that period, groceries were delivered by horse drawn sleigh in the winter and by wagon in the summer. After WW II, the building was occupied by a building supply store before being converted into apartments. 27. MUNN’S BAKERY- 1999 Second Ave Alex Munn opened a bake shop in this store in 1902. In the 1920’s it became Mrs. Bailey’s Confectionery Store and was a popular stop for many children on their way home from school. Subsequently, the building served as a corner store operated by various owners until its closure in the 1970’s. 28. LIQUOR STORE- 2063 Washington St

17. ST. ANDREW’S UNITED CHURCH- 2100 First Ave. This building was constructed in 1898 as a Presbyterian Church under the direction of Rev. Gandier. In 1917, factions of the Methodist and Presbyterian churches merged to form the United Church of Canada. The first Presbyterian service in Rossland was held by Rev. Robertson in a store on Sourdough Alley using planks laid on kegs for seats. Their bell came from the Methodist church. 18. ROSSLAND CITY HALL/ FIRE HALL- 2115 Queen St One of the prime reasons for Rossland’s incorporation in 1897 was the growing need for better fire protection. In early 1901, construction of the brick building was completed. The three large arched doors guaranteed quick departure from the hall. Horses, which pulled the hose cars, were kept in stables in the back. 19. THE POST OFFICE- 2096 Columbia David Stussi, Rossland’s first Postmaster, had a grocery store and rough post office located in a log cabin on the site of The Garage Restaurant. He placed the mail in a cheese box behind the door and each man sorted his own mail. In 1901, construction of Rossland’s present Post Office, the fifth in Rossland’s history, began under the direction of Thomas Bradbury. Firmly anchored with granite blocks from a city quarry, the foundation envelopes the window on the ground floor. Composed of brick the second storey displays an oriel window. The third story and Gothic roof were destroyed by the March 1929 fire. 20. THE BANK OF MONTREAL- 2004 Columbia Ave Built in 1900, the bank was only one of four major Canadian banks competing in Rossland. This magnificent brick building provided a refreshing permanence amongst a sea of wooden structures. The cornerstone bears the altitude bench mark of 3410 ft above sea level. F.M. Rattenbury, the architect, also designed the Parliament buildings in Victoria. J.S.C. Fraser was the Manager of the Bank of Montreal until 1912 and played an important role in both the business and social life of early Rossland. 21. THE COLLINS HOTELA smaller hotel built next to the famous Hoffman House was constructed in 1898. It had a bar-room, 3 clubrooms, a large dining room and a large kitchen on the main floor. There were 14

bedrooms and initially, the attic was not furnished. In late 1939 Rossland’s first library was located here. The Hoffman House and the Collins House were later connected and became known as Wise’s Hardware Store for many years. 22. HOFFMAN HOUSE- 2044 Washington St.. Built prior to 1898, this structure is actually two distinct buildings which now share a common façade. The northern building, the Hoffman House was considered the best hotel in the district boasting a dining room, club rooms, a bar room, 25 bedrooms and 4 bowling alleys in the rear. 23. BODEGA HOTEL- 2054 Washington St. Erected during the city’s boom years, 1896 - 1898, this building was the Bodega, a hotel and saloon. In 1911, George Green, the founder of Green City near Salmo, opened an ice cream parlor inside. The popular Rosie’s Café occupied the building from 1930 until 1945. 24. BELLEVUE HOTEL- 2003 Second Ave Originally called the Bellevue Hotel and later the C.P.R., this hotel was built in 1898 and was named the Orwell Hotel in 1903. Situated across from the C.P.R. station, the Orwell was a popular drinking establishment for men returning from work on the afternoon train. Many “regulars” were said to have had their own personal beer steins. 25. THE WEST KOOTENAY SUBSTATION- 1817 Planer Cres. In 1898, the West Kootenay Power and Light Co. first delivered electrical power to Rossland over a 32-mile long 20,000-volt line from Bonnington Falls on the Kootenay River - the longest and highest voltage transmission line in the world at the time. This brick substation sheltered the transformers and equipment required to step down and deliver power to the city and the mines. The substation was replaced in 1929. This building is currently a private residence. 26. AGNEW & CO- 2253 Washington St. Agnew & Co., a combined grocery and dry goods store, began conducting business in the modest wooden building in 1900. As business grew, the building also expanded. Oswald Bisson married the Agnew’s daughter and took over the business in the 20’s. As

This building housed a number of businesses throughout the years, including a liquor store, a shoe store, a butcher shop and the Washington apartments. 29. HUNTER BROTHERS DEPARTMENT STORE- 1990 Columbia Ave Constructed in 1905, the building housed Hunter Brothers Department Store. During a time when most businesses were small and more specialized, Hunter Bros. was diversified, catering to housewives, miners and businesses alike. As Rossland’s largest mercantile establishment, Hunter Bros. dealt in groceries, hardware, drygoods and clothing until the 1950’s when the store was sold to the T. Eaton Co. 30. BC TELEPHONE BUILDING- 1916 First Ave A brick building, it was erected in 1910 for the BC Telephone Co. All calls went through a switchboard operator. Because Rossland was a small town, the operator could often volunteer information as to where the called party might be reached. The building was vacated by the BC Telephone Co. when a new automatic dial exchange was installed on Columbia Ave. In 1958, the building was converted into the Senior Citizens’ Club. 31. KAMLOOPS MINING & DRILLING CO. 1854 Columbia Ave The Columbia Avenue Apartments built in 1901 by the Kamloops Mining Co. and valued at $1 for many years and was later converted into separate apartments. The ground floor housed a variety of businesses including a cigar manufacturing shop.

Columbia Ave - 1907