Authors Posts by Museum Staff

Museum Staff

58 POSTS 0 COMMENTS
This article was posted and is maintained by the efforts of our hardworking Museum Staff and volunteers. If you feel that you have more to contribute to this article, we welcome your suggestions or input.

Rossland was nicknamed the Golden City for it was born out of man’s insatiable lust for gold. Situated as it is in the eroded crater of a long-extinct volcano, its golden treasure laid down in prehistoric times lay hidden through the ages awaiting discovery by modern man.

In 1865 the builders of the historic Dewdney Trail pushed feverishly past the present site of Rossland without any apparent inkling of the buried wealth that lay just across from their trail. It seems inconceivable that the deep mineral stains on the slopes of Red Mountain should have gone unheeded. But it is an established fact that the trail fell into disuse shortly after completion and save for the summer encampments of berry-seeking Salish Indians the region lay undisturbed by man for almost another quarter of a century.

The day of discovery was drawing inevitably closer, however, and in 1887, Brohman and Leyson, picking their way along the neglected trail, staked the Lily May just south of the present city boundary of Rossland. The claim proved of little value and was allowed to lapse but was restaked in 1889 by Newland and Hoover. In the spring of 1890, Joe Moris, who had been hired to do assessment work on the Lily May, moved a little closer to the prize when he set up posts on the Homestake. By now Joe Moris sensed the unconscious tug of Red Mountain and in July of that same year he and a new-found partner, Joe Bourgeois, crossed over to the beckoning slopes and made their fabulous find. A new and exciting chapter was opened in the annals of Canadian mining.

Of the five claims staked on Red Mountain that day the Le Roi was destined to be the most famous. Given to Col. Topping, the mining recorder at Nelson, in lieu of a $12.50 recording fee, it eventually sold for three million dollars and produced almost thirty million dollars during its life. The other four claims were the Idaho, Virginia, Centre Star and War Eagle. The latter two were destined to form the embryo of the great Cominco operation (now called Teck) that supports the area today.

Things moved slowly at first and the camp seemed doomed more often to failure than to success. Col. Topping had succeeded in interesting Spokane capital in the Le Roi and in 1891 a trial shipment of seven tons of ore went down to Trail Creek landing by mule-back and then by river steamer and railway to Butte, Montana. Returns were eaten up by transportation costs but the results were encouraging enough to continue development. Meanwhile an option on the War Eagle had been dropped and Oliver Durante was finding results from the Centre Star far from encouraging.

In 1892, a wagon road was constructed to Northport and the Le Roi company ordered forty wagons to transport their ore direct to the railroad. Excitement began to surge through the camp and Ross Thompson pre-empted a town site which he first called “Thompson” but quickly changed to Rossland when post office complications occurred.

By 1893 a wagon road had been built down to Trail Creek Landing and the camp began to boom. Finally in 1895, the War Eagle, recently acquired by Patsy Clarke, hit rich ore and almost simultaneously the Centre Star made a high grade strike. The Le Roi mine paid its first dividend and the camp roared into life.

Events moved swiftly and the name Rossland spread like wildfire throughout the investment markets of the world. F. Augustus Heinze came up from Montana to build a smelter at Trail Creek Landing and brought with him the remnants of Brigham Young’s narrow gauge railway which was laid up the hill to Rossland and renamed Trail Creek Tramway.

Not to miss out on the golden harvest, D. C. Corbin of Spokane began construction of his standard gauge, Red Mountain Railway which made the ascent from Northport through the Paterson valley. It was soon acquired by the Great Northern Railway system.

1896 was a year of commercial progress. Heinze’s smelter at Trail Creek went into operation treating Rossland ores, and the West Kootenay Power and Light Company was incorporated to supply the mines with electrical energy to be developed at a proposed hydro power plant on the Kootenay River at Lower Bonnington. Meanwhile, Rossland’s first domestic electric lights winked on in January, energized by the temperamental steam plant of the Rossland Water and Light Company.

By 1897 the population had increased to 7,000 and the town could boast 42 saloons and 17 law firms. The time was obviously ripe for incorporation and in April of that year Col. Scott was elected first mayor of the Corporation of the City of Rossland. Mining activity continued to expand and the Le Roi Company caused a stir by falling out with Heinze and constructing a smelter of their own at Northport, much to the jubilation of the Red Mountain Railway.

By 1898 the list of active mines included along with such giants as the Le Roi, Centre Star and War Eagle, the Black Bear, White Bear, California, Josie, Annie, Nickel Plate, Spitzee, Iron Mask, Enterprise, Columbia-Kootenay, Jumbo, and dozens of lesser properties.

The Canadian Pacific Railway Company, eager to share in this wealth, purchased Heinze’s Smelter and converted his railway to standard gauge. Daily ore trains crept cautiously down grade to both Trail and Northport and straining locomotives pulled the squealing empties back up the hill for more. The West Kootenay Power and Light Company pioneered long distance transmission to deliver power from Bonnington Falls to the Rossland Mines.

In the same year the Le Roi became involved in its famous international litigation which eventually terminated in its sale to Whittaker Wright’s British American Corporation and the signing of the “million-dollar cheque.”

Production boomed and Rossland prospered until, in 1901, the whole operation was paralysed by the Miners’ Union Strike. The long strike was no sooner settled when the area suffered another setback through the disastrous collapse of Whittaker Wright’s infamous financial empire. The bursting of this bubble and scandal that followed seriously shook investors’ faith in Le Roi and other Rossland mining stocks to the point where they never fully recovered. Nevertheless, the year 1902 proved to be the peak-production year for the Rossland mines. However, the handwriting was on the wall. The rich ore values were beginning to pinch out and lower grades were being encountered at deeper levels. It was the beginning of a gradual but steady decline.

In 1902 the City of Rossland also suffered the first of a series of disastrous fires that eventually destroyed most of the business section. This was followed in 1905 by a major devastation when, on a December day, the Centre Star powder house exploded.

The year 1905 also brought about the amalgamation of the War Eagle and Centre Star mines to form the embryo Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company which was destined to grow into the giant Cominco metallurgical operation that supports the area today (now called Teck). The Le Roi mine steadfastly refused to join the consolidation and continued as an independent until the final meeting of the directors in London in 1910 wound up the company affairs. In 1911 The Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company purchased the Le Roi assets and combined it with War Eagle-Centre Star operation. As time went on the majority of producing properties found that entry into the consolidation was the only economic salvation for their sagging ore values. Eventually all were joined underground and operated as one large mine from the Centre Star shaft which, with its 2,200 feet of length, was the deepest shaft in Canada at that time.

Slowly the town declined as production fell off. In 1922, the Great Northern saw fit to pull up the rails of the faithful Red Mountain Railway and, in 1927 and 1929, the second and third great fires laid waste the business section. Finally in 1929, the last man left “the hill” and after forty exciting years of operation with a combined output of almost 165 million dollars, the treasure vault on Red Mountain was closed.

By 1930 the City of Rossland had reached its lowest ebb. With a population reduced to 3,000 and faced with the Great Depression of the thirties the future looked grim. However, the Golden City was not to be condemned to the fate of a ghost town. The advent of modern highway transportation and the stability of the great Cominco plant at Trail combined to turn Rossland into an ideal residential town, with its working population comfortably commuting the steep valley climb pioneered by Dewdney and his trailblazers three-quarters of a century before.

In 1934 the fever of mining returned again for a brief period when the Cominco holdings were thrown open for leasing as a depression relief aid. Old timers and youngsters alike returned to the mountainous waste dumps and yawning upper level stopes to scratch out a million dollars in the first year. The spirits of the past walked the slopes of Red Mountain again but their stay was brief. By 1942 the Second World War was occupying the efforts of all concerned and the last of the leases were closed for good.

Today the Golden City looks to a new future in the white gold of her winter ski slopes and in a reawakening of her historic mines. The weather stained waste dumps give mute evidence of the hundreds of miles of worked-out tunnels and caverns below, while the relics and pictures safely housed in the Rossland Museum remind the new generation of the golden past.

0 1052

As of May 17th, we are open for our Spring Hours!!

Tuesdays to Sundays 10am to 5pm.

The Upper Level (including outdoor gold panning!) will also be open to the public starting Tuesday, May 17th.

Tours can be booked anytime during our opening hours (please inquire for times outside of normal operating hours) and regularly schedule property tours as well as downtown walking tours will commence in July and go to the end of August.

We are also very excited to announce that we will be having 9 straight weeks of kids day camps for the summer! Including a week hosted by the Royal BC Museum right here in Rossland on BC’s Species at Risk! Registration and more information will be posted very soon.

0 1094

Job Type: Seasonal, Full-time

Location: Rossland, BC

Salary: $11/hour

Start Date: Immediately

Closing Date: Until Filled

This position is subject to funding and only available to students who have been in full-time studies and intend to return to full-time studies in the fall. Students must be legally entitled to work in Canada and aged 15 or older prior to the employment start date.

Job Description:

The Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre’s mission is to preserve and dynamically present the heritage of Rossland and area. We do this with comprehensive indoor and outdoor displays on the industrial and social history of Rossland with a particular emphasis on the mining and skiing histories of the area. Additionally, we have an extensive community archives, a provincial visitor information centre, numerous educational programs in-house and through outreach activities, downtown heritage walking tours, and various special events throughout the summer.

The Visitor Centre Counselor is responsible for the daily opening, operating, and closing procedures associated with Museum and Visitor Centre operations. Major tasks include assisting with the operation of the gift shop, admissions, and concession, including sales, inventory, restocking, and statistics, as well as conducting interpretive tours and educational programming where time permits. Planning and scheduling group visits, tours, and special events and routine maintenance, including painting, cleaning, and light grounds keeping will also be required. If the interest and background exists, the student may also have tailored tasks such as marketing, graphic design, early childhood education, historical research, and archival tasks. As well, as a community history museum, we cover a lot of different themes and topics, and the opportunity to create and complete a project as it relates directly to their field of study will also be made available throughout the summer.

Essential Qualifications:

  • Excellent English verbal and written communication skills
  • Customer service experience
  • Public speaking experience
  • Excellent computer skills
  • Must have excellent organizational skills, planning experience, and a passion for tourism, education, and history
  • Experience with research and problem solving

Desired Qualifications:

  • High School (aged 15+) or Post-secondary education in Museum Studies, History, Geology, Drama, Anthropology, Tourism, Marketing, or related fields. High school student applicants are accepted
  • Superhost or similar tourism education/certification
  • Experience working in or with the tourism and/or cultural sector
  • Knowledge of Rossland’s (and the West Kootenay’s) history and current activities/attractions/amenities/etc.
  • Minor labour experience
  • Current First Aid certificate

For more information about this position, please contact Joelle Hodgins, Museum Director, at museumdirector@rosslandmuseum.ca or call (250) 362-7722

0 1038

Job Opening: Archives Assistant

Job Type: Seasonal, Full-time

Location: Rossland, BC

Salary: $11.50/hour

Start Date: May 1st, 2015

Closing Date: Until Filled

This position is subject to funding and only available to students who have been in full-time post-secondary studies and intend to return to full-time studies in the fall.

Job Description:

The Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre’s mission is to preserve and dynamically present the heritage of Rossland and area. We do this with comprehensive indoor and outdoor displays on the industrial and social history of Rossland with a particular emphasis on the mining and skiing histories of the area. Additionally, we have an extensive community archives, a provincial visitor information centre, numerous educational programs in-house and through outreach activities, downtown heritage walking tours, and various special events throughout the summer.

The Archival Assistant will begin a major (multi-year) project to bring our archives closer to current standards and practice according to the rules for archival description. The Archives consists of 5 rooms totaling approximately 1200 sq ft, and many different mediums from maps to newspapers to photographs covering the history of Rossland since the mid-1800s.

Beginning with some professional training and familiarization with the archives in its current state, the Archival Assistant will determine the work plan for the bigger project so it can easily be picked up from when their summer position has finished. Along with beginning phase one of the project, the student will also manage public research requests, incoming archival donations, and internal research requests for our programming, exhibitions, and publications.

The ideal candidate for this position will be currently attending post-secondary (or recently completed) in archival, library, or museum studies. They will have excellent research skills and an ability to multi-task while maintaining accuracy under pressure. They will possess the ability to work cooperatively as part of a dynamic team.

The following desired qualifications may be considered an asset for this position:

  • Creativity and enthusiasm
  • Excellent computer skills
  • Experience working in or with the tourism and/or cultural sector
  • Knowledge of Rossland’s history
  • Current First Aid certificate

For more information about this position or to submit your resume and cover letter clearly demonstrating how you meet the qualifications, please contact Joelle Hodgins, Museum Director, at museumdirector @ rosslandmuseum.ca or call (250) 362-7722.

0 1177

Job Opening:

Museum Assistant

Job Type: Seasonal, Full-time

Location: Rossland, BC

Salary: $11/hour

Start Date: Mid-May

Closing Date: Until Filled

These positions are subject to funding and only available to students who have been in full-time post-secondary studies and intend to return to full-time studies in the fall.

Job Description:

The Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre’s mission is to preserve and dynamically present the heritage of Rossland and area. We do this with comprehensive indoor and outdoor displays on the industrial and social history of Rossland with a particular emphasis on the mining and skiing histories of the area. Additionally, we have an extensive community archives, a provincial visitor information centre, numerous educational programs in-house and through outreach activities, downtown heritage walking tours, and various special events throughout the summer.

Museum assistants are responsible for the daily opening, operating, and closing procedures associated with Museum operations. This includes conducting interpretive tours that provide information on Rossland – the Golden City. Assisting with the operation of the gift shop, admissions, concession, and Visitor Centre, including sales, inventory, restocking, statistics, etc. Planning and scheduling group visits, tours, and special events. Routine maintenance, including painting, cleaning, and light grounds keeping. If the interest and background exists, students may also have tailored tasks such as marketing, graphic design, early childhood education, historical research, and archival tasks. As well, as a community history museum, we cover a lot of different themes and topics, and the opportunity to create and complete a project as it relates directly to their field of study will also be made available throughout the summer.

Essential Qualifications:

  • Excellent computer skills
  • Excellent English verbal and written communication skills
  • Public speaking experience
  • Must have excellent organizational skills, planning experience, and a passion for education and history
  • Customer service experience

Desired Qualifications:

  • Post-secondary education in Museum Studies, History, Geology, Drama, Anthropology, Tourism, Marketing, or related fields. High school student applicants are accepted
  • Experience working in or with the tourism and/or cultural sector
  • Knowledge of Rossland’s history
  • Minor labour and equipment maintenance experience
  • Current First Aid certificate

For more information about this position, please contact Joelle Hodgins, Museum Director, at museumdirector @ rosslandmuseum.ca or call (250) 362-7722.

0 1463

Job Opening:

Historical Interpreter & Educator

Job Type: Seasonal, Full-time

Location: Rossland, BC

Salary: $11/hour

Start Date: Mid-May

Closing Date: Until Filled

This position is subject to funding and only available to students who have been in full-time post-secondary studies and intend to return to full-time studies in the fall.

Job Description:

The Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre’s mission is to preserve and dynamically present the heritage of Rossland and area. We do this with comprehensive indoor and outdoor displays on the industrial and social history of Rossland with a particular emphasis on the mining and skiing histories of the area. Additionally, we have an extensive community archives, a provincial visitor information centre, numerous educational programs in-house and through outreach activities, downtown heritage walking tours, and various special events throughout the summer.

The Historical Interpreter & Educator will be responsible for the development, delivery, evaluation, and promotion of heritage site interpretation activities, guided tours, public events, school programs, outreach activities, historical vignettes, and other public programs tailored to various age groups. The topics or themes that these programs take on can directly relate to the background and interests of the student (i.e. geology programming if it’s a Geology student). The student will also assist in the general operation of the museum when necessary, including operating the gift shop, concession and visitor centre, including sales, inventory, restocking, etc.; routine maintenance, including painting, cleaning, and light grounds keeping; and other tasks as required.

Interpretive tours, educational programming, and special events are regularly scheduled for people of all ages (i.e. youth, seniors, school groups, daycares, etc.), and all staff are involved in the creation and planning of the programs. This will also be the first year that the museum is a member of the Cultural Access Pass Program and taking on the local Canada Day celebrations. This year is also the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Flag, so special activities will be associated with all of the above.

Essential Qualifications:

  • Excellent English verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent public speaking abilities; articulate, polite, and friendly
  • Should be very well organized, detail-oriented, and able to problem solve
  • A passion for education and history
  • Customer service experience

Desired Qualifications:

  • Creativity, enthusiasm, and a love of learning
  • Post-secondary education in History, Drama, Anthropology, Museum Studies, Marketing, or related fields. High school student applicants are accepted
  • Excellent computer skills
  • Experience with planning, organizing, and facilitating events
  • Experience working in or with the tourism and/or cultural sector
  • Knowledge of Rossland’s history
  • Current First Aid certificate

For more information about this position, please contact Joelle Hodgins, Museum Director, at museumdirector @ rosslandmuseum.ca or call (250) 362-7722.

The following essays have been researched and written by Ronald A. Shearer, Professor Emeritus (Economics), The University of British Columbia.

Yes, there was skiing in Rossland before we built the chair lift.

The Chinese and Chinatown of Rossland – Fragments From Their Early History

Mid-Winter Mardi Gras: Rossland’s Original Winter Carnival

Olaus Jeldness, Pioneer Mining Man and Father of Skiing

 

 

0 1395

09/2/2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ROSSLAND, BC – Rossland Celebrates BC Heritage Week: “Main Street: At the Heart of the Community”!

BC Heritage Week is celebrated annually in mid-February, and this year’s theme is “Main Street: At the Heart of the Community.”

Main Street, King Street, Queen Street, Water Street, Broadway – whatever their name, Main Streets and traditional downtowns are at the heart of communities big and small across British Columbia.  Centres of commerce, civic institutions, community commemoration and events, Main Streets embody the history and evolution of a community.

                                                                                                                          -Heritage BC

The Rossland Museum and the Rossland Heritage Commission are celebrating this year’s theme in a few ways. We are working with local schools and the general public to contribute to a display at the museum showcasing what Rossland’s “Main Street” – the core of our downtown – means to you. From Sourdough Alley to Columbia Avenue and its various side streets, Rossland’s historic downtown is an amazing asset to our community.

What does our downtown core mean to you?

How is it the “heart” of Rossland?

What is your best memory of the area?

Submit your stories, poetry, artwork, or other contributions to the museum by Friday, February 20th (late submissions to the display may be accepted if there is room) at 5pm either by email info@rosslandmuseum.ca or drop off at the museum – Open Wednesdays to Saturdays 12pm to 5pm. All submissions will then be curated for our gallery at the museum, opening to the public on February 18th to celebrate BC Heritage Week. All those that submit and are included in the gallery will receive 1 free entry to the museum to see the display! This display will continue through March.

We are also looking for downtown businesses to partner with us to make a downtown heritage gallery utilizing the windows of our downtown businesses. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Joelle Hodgins – info@rosslandmuseum.ca or (250) 362-7722.

About the Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre: The Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre (RMDC) aims to preserve and dynamically present the heritage of Rossland and area. We are the visitor gateway to the Kootenays and the Columbia Basin, and we inspire and engage the public through virtual and real life displays that bring our history to life. We are situated at the junction of Hwy 22 and Hwy 3B.

Contact:

Joelle Hodgins, Museum Director

Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre

1100 Hwy 3B, Rossland, BC

Phone: (250) 362-7722

Email: info@rosslandmuseum.ca

www.rosslandmuseum.ca