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Whittaker Wright was a London promoter. His London and Globe Finance Company underwrote the purchase of the Le Roi mine in the name of the British America Corporation in 1898.

Wright’s financial dealings were open to question and at one stage he was accused of over-evaluating the Le Roi stock.

In 1901, the London and Globe bubble burst and Wright’s financial house of cards collapsed. Wright’s affairs were investigated by the law courts and he fled the country. Rather than face the consequences of his wrongdoings, Wright committed suicide.

The Whittaker Wright scandal temporarily shook investor’s faith in Rossland mining stocks. Le Roi stock suffered as a result of this and never regained the prominence it had once enjoyed.

Chinese Gardens in Rossland

The following are short excerpts, presented in their original form, from the Rossland Miner (a newspaper that published from 1895 – 1973).

Date: Sept. 23, 1897 – Rossland Miner
Title: A Lone Chinese Woman

Although there are over 200 male Mongolians in Rossland, there is only one Chinese woman, Chin Fung by name. When asked why there are no more females of his own race here, one Chinaman replied, “One woman too muchee. Have hundled woman, make too much fussee, allee time. Woman alee same no good.” The 200 Chinese in Rossland are employed as cooks ar house boys. Several run wash houses, cultivate truck gardens or raise pigs. There are a few merchants viz. Li Mong, Mah Hong, Fo King, Mah Wing and Mah Sho, a pigtailed fantan expert.

Date: April 10, 1897 – Rossland Miner
Title: Opium Joint

Lee Wah Lung was brought up on the charge of keeping an opium joint on Sour Dough Alley and selling opium without a license. The cost of license being $250.00, the justice of the peace fined Lee Wah Lung $250.00 and IO costs or, in default, 6 months in prison.

Date: September 21, 1891 – Rossland Miner
Title: Funeral of a Chinese

The funeral of Lee Foy, a Chinese aged 21, took place yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock from Li Yuen, in the alley near the Rossland Opera House. It was attended by a dozen of his countrymen, who, on the way to the cemetery, scattered oblong slips of paper along the route for the purpose of scaring away the evil spirits. All of his personal effects were buried with him. A 25¢ piece was placed in his mouth in order that he may pay his way into the other world. In order that his departed spirit not want for something good to eat during the first few days of his residence in the other world, four roasted chickens, a bottle of Chinese whiskey, a bowl of cooked rice and a pot of tea were provided for him. Lighted tapers and incense sticks were stuck into the newly made mound. There were 50 Caucasians at the cemetery curiously watching the proceedings. The body of Lee Foy will be allowed to remain in its present resting place for a period of three years and then it will be disinterred and the bones sent back to China.

Date: May 2, 1903 – Rossland Miner
Title: Chinese Gardens Now a Scene of Pastoral Fairness

A visit to the southeastern section of the city, where the Chinese gardens are located, is a revelation to the citizen who has paid no attention to the possibilities of this country from the agricultural standpoint. It is genuinely surprising to note the remarkable results attained by the sons of the Flowery Kingdom in what was regarded as a district of little promise.

…The Chinamen have cleared and cultivated an area of 50 or 75 acres and, with all their faults from other standpoints, the Celestials must be given credit for unswerving perseverance and energy. These lands are clear of brush of every description, and innumerable cairns indicate the patience with which the cultivators have gone over every inch of the soil and removed the impediments to vegetation. The fields are comparatively tiny plots, but the richness of the soil makes large holdings unnecessary. Irrigation is arranged for, and the Chinamen appear to have regulated the use and drainage of water without the clashes and appeals to the courts that have cropped up where irrigation has been instituted elsewhere.

Date: April 7, 1904 – Rossland Miner
Title: Chinese Plant Fruit Trees

Last summer and fall, several Chinamen leased a parcel of land south of the slaughter house and cleared the ground. This spring they will set out a quantity of fruit trees, principally apples of the earlier varieties. The industrious purpose to raise roots among the fruit trees for 3 or 4 seasons, until the trees come to bearing. At the end of 5 years, they estimate the trees will come into full fruition.

Date: January 6, 1946 – Rossland Miner
Title: Old Timers Among Chinese Residents

The old Chinese Mason Hall which has been a sort of club for the Chinese residents since the early days, where throughout the week Chinese residents gathered to hear one of their number read the Chinese papers in order that they may keep well informed on the war, came to life Sunday, December 23 when the annual Chinese Christmas dinner was given. An occasion which for the past ten years has been provided by Mr. W.K. Esling.

The hall has a kitchen with all equipment and the dinner consisting of chicken with rice, roast turkey, roast pork, and desserts, was prepared by Leung Youe who for many years has been a restaurant cook. Some of the sixteen present have been residents of the City for nearly half a century. Heading the list is Mow Fong, who is over eighty years of age. The order of the rest is not taken in respect of age; Leung Youe, Loui Pow, Loui How, Lin Koo, Wai Gun, Loui Joe, Loui Tong, Leung Hook, Wai Dow, Chung Kee, L. Jim, Hop Chonge, Chow Moon, Chong Bing Shoue and Gar Poo.

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Of the five claims staked on Red Mountain in July 1890 by Moris and Bourgeois, the Le Roi was destined to become the most famous. In return for putting up the $12.50 recording fee for the group, “Colonel” Topping, the gold recorder at Nelson, was offered his choice of the claims. Topping chose the Le Roi. He then sold the Le Roi to a Spokane syndicate for $30,000. When the mine was developed, the American owners sold it to Whittaker Wright’s British-America Corp. of London for three million dollars. The Le Roi ultimately produced 30 million dollars of wealth.

The sale of the Le Roi to the British-America Corp. triggered an exciting litigation case that culminated in the signing of the “million dollar cheque” at Rossland.

In 1897 the Le Roi mining company built a smelter at Northport. Washington, but this was closed down a few years after the sale of the mine to the B-A Corp.

Heavy trading in Le Roi stock through the distant London exchange prompted the establishment of the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The fortunes of the Le Roi suffered a setback in 1901 with the collapse of Whittaker Wright’s infamous  financial empire, but the mine continued to produce until 1910 when the affairs of the company were wound up in London. In 1911, the assets of the Le Roi were acquired by Cominco and the Le Roi was operated as part of the consolidated mine workings until the Rossland properties were closed down in 1929.

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In 1865 the Dewdney Trail was pushed through from Rock Creek in the Boundary country to Wild Horse Creek in the East Kootenay. Its purpose was to provide a direct supply route from the Pacific coast to the gold rush camps on Wild Horse Creek. Construction was in the charge of Edgar Dewdney who later became Governor of the Northwest Territories and then Lieutenant Governor of the Province of British Columbia.

The gold rush in the Wild Horse Creek area subsided shortly after and the trail fell into disuse.

The Dewdney Trail from the west crossed the height of land just south of the City of Rossland and followed the stream down the valley below Rossland to the mouth of the Columbia River. The stream was named Trail Creek and the landing spot was called trail Creek Landing. Today it is the City of Trail.

Thirty-five years later two prospectors, Moris and Bourgeois, were doing assessment work on a claim called the Lily Mayon the Dewdney Trail just below the present site of Rossland. They were attracted by the red mineral stains on Red Mountain, and in July 1890 they crossed over to Red Mountain to stake the first five mineral claims that gave birth to Rossland, the Golden City. Sections of the Trail are still visible today between Rossland and the Paterson valley.