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Welcome to the Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre!
We are open Year-Round!
Hours: Wednesday to Saturday 12pm to 5pm
Archives is available by appointment only

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Imagine a two-week-long backcountry ski trip in the middle of winter traversing the Purcell Mountains. Imagine being only the second party to have ever attempted it, the first dating back to 1958. Now imagine doing that on traditional Norwegian light touring skis made of wood, carrying all your food, over a distance of approximately 135 km. In 1973.

This amazing story unfolds at the Rossland Museum as part of the Winter Speaker Series. Intrepid Kootenay ski trekkers Dave Smith and Ron Robinson will present PowerPoint slides and short videos documenting two 1970’s trips that are part of what is now generally referred to as the “Grand Traverses” of the Canadian Alps.

Winter backcountry enthusiasts, come on out and see where all the adventure started!

This event is a fundraiser for the Museum. Admission by donation at the door. Doors at 6:30pm. Presentation approximately one hour, with Q&A afterwards.

During the annual Golden City Days weekend, on Rossland’s 75th year, a group of friends wanted to contribute in an extra special way. They proposed to run an old time saloon – a fitting tribute to early Rossland’s history! Their saloon was to be called the Golden Nugget, and it would be the birth place of the Can-Can dancers known as the Dancing Waiters.
 
But why?
The morning of the saloon’s opening, they were informed the scheduled can-can dancers out of Spokane had to cancel. With little time left until the start of the event, they took charge and dressed in their matching bartender outfits, practiced a few moves, and put on an unforgettable show. They were such a success that they performed at every Golden City Day festival for 25 years!
 
Visit their display at the Rossland Public Library until November 1st, 2017 to learn more about their many charitable acts, group members, and see their creative outfits.
Library Hours: Tue Wed Thu 10am–8pm Fri Sat 10am–5pm Closed Sun Mon
 
 

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Rosslanders, past and present have always indulged being in the great outdoors. Escaping into nature, soaking up the sun, and sharing the beautiful weather and adventures with family and friends. Together Rossland grew into a community that celebrates nature, encourages active living, and embraces the surrounding landscape. Outdoor activities in the 1900s were not much different from those of present day. Fishing, hiking, and swimming were among some of the most popular summer activities. Visit the museum’s new display located at the Rossland Public Library to learn about some of Rossland’s popular summer activities, such as…

When the Rossland community came together in the Summer of 1932, to support the construction and opening of the Rossland Pool. Coming together to play, competing in competitions, and enjoying a refreshing dip on a hot summer’s day. Generations of citizens have created lasting memories at this heritage site.
Come take a closer look at a 1944 swimming trophy won by children.

Gifted with a remarkable backyard, Rossland is surrounded by an extensive network of high quality trails and paths winding through forests and ending with breathtaking views. Hiking has always been popular in Rossland. One of the most popular and an annual tradition is the hike up Mount Roberts to celebrate Canada Day. Want to know what hikers wore in the early 1900s? It’s all revealed in our new display. Join the museum for the hike this year and be part of this long lasting tradition! Carpooling 8am from the museum parking lot.

Some of the most popular fishing spots from the 1900s are still popular among Rosslanders today. Fishing spots such as Trail Creek, Big Sheep Creek, and Nancy Greene Lake. Come take a look at a handcrafted bamboo fishing rod made circa. 1920s.

Are you more of a behind-the-scene picture taker during the summer? Have you ever heard of a Brownie Camera? Ever wondered why it’s called a Brownie? Come see this artifact in its original 1920s leather case with lens and read all about it.
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Want to learn more about other popular summer sports? Stay tuned for the Museum’s next display on golf and tennis at Mountain Town Properties – downtown location.

The name “The Flying Steamshovel” can be seen when traveling through the streets of downtown Rossland, but have you ever thought, what does it mean? What is its story? And how has the name survived the test of time?

Today, 114 years after the flight of the Flying Steamshovel, and 71 years since the written accounts by Father Freney, the Flying Steamshovel makes its way back home to the Golden City and has landed at the Rossland Museum & Discovery Center’s newest display!!

There has been, and still is, considerable controversy surrounding this peculiar story. Just keep in mind that the famous Wright Brothers’ first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight took place in 1903, in North Carolina. Paul Cornu is credited with the first free vertical ascent in a helicopter in France in 1907. Meanwhile, the Flying Steamshovel is reported to have flown in 1901, at the height of 200ft in little, old Rossland, BC! SO, should The Golden City be acknowledged as the true birthplace of man’s gravity-conquering abilities?

This new display will capture the interest of locals and new comers alike. Rossland is well known for its place in the Mining and Skiing domain, but this display will highlight Rossland’s due place in the Aviation world. The display showcases the research and persistence against adversity that Father Freney had to face to get the story recognized by top aviation magazines. It showcases the only information found on the inventor – Lou Gagnon and his life before and after his explosive crash and his smashed dreams of flying in the wintery month of February.

Have you ever wondered what the Steamshovel may have looked like? Well, this display hosts the only (known) three dimensional model created based on sketched images of eye witness accounts! Why is it called a Flying Steamshovel? Our new display holds all the answers.

The museum is open Wednesdays to Sundays 10am to 6pm through to the end of June. We are open 7 days a week 10am to 6pm starting July 1st until the end of the summer.

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

Ross Thompson (2016)

 

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Chinese workers in front of Kee Chinese Variety Store in Rossland, BC

In studying the articles from the earliest newspapers of the Boundary and West Kootenay mining camps and towns of B.C., one can say that the Chinese were living in many of those mining towns almost from their inception. (The exception seems to be the Slocan and Lardeau areas where they were not welcome.)

The Chinese were considered good workers and generally worked for less money than a white person. The Chinese were strongly discouraged from working underground by local Trade and Labour Councils and in fact, in many communities, these Councils led the opposition to any kind of work employment of the Chinese.

The Chinese seemed to be willing to do any kind of work and most were employed as cooks, domestic help, woodcutters and labourers. They operated Chinese laundries in all mining communities and owned and operated a few stores (starting with the first stores in Rock Creek).

Chinese gardens were developed in any community in which the Chinese stayed – Rock Creek, Kaslo, Nelson, Greenwood, Trail, and Rossland – they met a need in the booming mining camps where the cost of importing food was high and provided a source of income for the Chinese.

Almost all the newspaper articles spoke negatively about having Chinese in the community. Trade and Labour Councils didn’t want the Chinese because they were cheap labour and took jobs away from the white men.

The Chinese did not assimilate. The Chinese sent their money back to China. The Chinese lived where they worked and conditions were crowded. Unclean conditions in laundries caused municipal restrictions and bylaws specific to Chinese laundries. The Chinese were associated with vice – gambling and prostitution in large cities and they were infidels. Feelings against the Chinese were strong and when government task forces came into the communities seeking input they heard from many. (The Head Tax was raised to $100 from $50 in 1901).

 

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The Chinese made their first appearance in this district in 1865 – 22 years before the first claim in Rossland was staked. They were the bulk of the labour force on the construction of the Dewdney Trail. They deserted Dewdney when they reached the Columbia River, to try their luck at gold panning. Their camp was set up at the mouth of what is now called China Creek. They probably drifted back to the coast from the China Creek camps.

It is quite likely the Chinese filtered back to Rossland with the first rush of the miners, shortly after the camp sprang into existence in 1890. An issue of the “Rossland Miner” – September 23, 1897 reports that there were 200 male and one female Chinese residing here at that time. They were employed as cooks or house boys, several ran wash houses, cultivated truck gardens or raised pigs. A few were merchants and at least one was a fan tan expert. Another issue of the local “Rossland Miner” of 1897 reported the arrest of a Chinese man for the selling of opium without a license – the fee for such a license being $250.00.

Though the Chinese did drink, partake of opium and gamble, they contributed much to Rossland’s history particularly with their agricultural efforts known as the” Chinese Gardens”.

These truck gardens supplied Rosslander’s with fresh produce for over 50 years. This area has now mostly given way to the Rossland – Trail County Club.

They were kind to their non-Chinese friends at Christmas and their New Year, bringing gifts of handkerchiefs and other articles made of China silk, lily bulbs, candied ginger, lychee nuts, and firecrackers.

On October 12, 1903 the Chinese Masonic lodge, with a membership of 100 was opened with great ceremony, and celebrations which lasted for two days.

Chinatown in Rossland occupied a distinct area most of which was destroyed by fire in the early 1920’s. The buildings that survived the fire gradually fell into disuse and eventually disappeared. The last landmark was the Chinese Masonic Temple which was torn down about 1950. All traces of Chinatown have now disappeared and the site is now a residential area.

Written by: James Heidt

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By 1942 skiing activity was low and membership in both Ski Clubs had decreased drastically. It was considered that a race from the top of Grey Mountain all the way into Rossland would revive the skiers’ spirits and enthusiasm.
The first race was held on March 1, 1943. Racers were sent off at 1 minute intervals and had to climb to the top of Grey Mountain. From there, they skied down the slopes of Grey into Squaw Basin, and down the trail to Indian Flats. Skiers then headed to Red Mountain Road and the reservoir, with the finish at the top of Spokane Street.

The race was held once a year for four years but had to be cancelled in 1947 due to lack of snow at the lower levels.

The Grey Mountain Grind became a thing of the past with the amalgamation of the Rossland and Trail Ski Clubs to form the “Red Mountain Ski Club”, and the building of the Red Mountain Chairlift.