Heading out of downtown Cranbrook northward, Van Horne Street quickly tires of carrying 3/95 and sends the Highway over a block to use Cranbrook Street North to channel its traffic out of town. Running a two-mile-long gauntlet of burger joints, car lots and mid-priced motels, past the shopping centre and its Overwaitea store, travellers arrive on the fringes of the City where a 1956 orange-beamed overpass separates the No.3/95 from No.95A.
Travellers with maps will notice that the Bavarian City of Kimberley lies some 28 hilly kilometres north-west from Cranbrook on the 95A, and that 95A continues on a further 27 kilometres to tie into 93/95 which, in turn, brings traffic 24 kilometres back down the Trench to Fort Steele. Though the 95A neither is, nor ever was, part of the Crowsnest Highway, the sites and settlements upon it are integral to the economic history of south-eastern B.C. In the interests of completeness, they require treatment, and that alone, regardless of the natural beauty of the route, warrants a detour.
The 95A curls a couple hundred metres around the northern fringes of Josephs Prairie and the Mission Hills Golf Course to head west north-westerly for Kimberley. An intersection immediately before the Railway overpass offers an option. Left, Theatre Road heads back into the centre of Cranbrook, past the old drive-in, the overgrown CPR stockyards and the busy Crestbrook Forest Industries mill. Right, Mission Road follows Joseph Creek down to the St Mary River and St. Eugene mission.
On Mission heading northward, to the left, at the very end of Cranbrooks railyards, the North Star switch splits the Kimberley Branch from the B.C. Southern mainline, curving the former away north-westward to lead the 95A into and up the St. Marys valley to Kimberley. Spiked down under CPs B.C. Southern charter in two seasons beginning in 1899, 100 years later the Branch still carried three trains a week up to the Sullivan mines mill to collect lead-zinc concentrate for delivery to Trail. In company with the mainline, Mission Road follows Joseph Creek down its lovely, narrowing vale, underpasses the Railways high span to descend into the pretty St. Mary River valley. Now on the right, the Railway maintains a gentler grade by cutting along the hoo-doo bluffed heights of buttermilk coloured sandstones exposed at the confluence of the valleys, heading down the St. Mary to bridge the Kootenay near Fort Steele. A siding on the bluffs holds ore cars and coal gondolas ready for dispatch.
Swaying down through the blueberry bush-choked ravine that the Joseph has worn through the bluffs, Mission Road suddenly breaks out onto the flats of the St. Marys valley. The valley bottom here is the Ktunaxas St. Marys Reserve, No.1. Laid out by Peter OReilly in the summer of 1884, it is actually a group of four reserves totalling 7,446 hectares, now the most populated of the Tribes enclaves. Ahead on the right is a small settlement loosely gathered around the crimson-detailed white flamboyance of the little neo-Gothic church that Father Coccola had James Matthew Easterbrook erect in 1897.1 Though recently restored, it looks forsaken, its tall, subulate spire coming apart at its seams, a shingle or two missing, doors usually shut tight.
The Church Comes to Ktunaxa Territory
The Ktunaxa likely had no inkling that the religion of their ancestors was doomed when the Jesuit Fathers Modeste Demers and Norbert François Blanchet passed through this neighbourhood in the autumn of 1838. Assigned to minister to HBC employees on the lower Columbia River, the Fathers came with that years annual Coy expedition over the Athabaska Pass on October 10th. Arrived at Boat Encampment near the top of the Columbia Rivers Big Bend, they conducted a mass on October 14th. Demers and Blanchet contest with one Berland of the HBC for the credit of leaving behind a few lines of a French canticle and liturgy which the Ktunaxa blended into their rituals. Whoever is responsible, when the happily itinerant Belgian Jesuit, Father Pierre-Jean de Smet, wandered into the Trench during August of 1845, ...taking, according to Zola Bruneau and C.T. Low in their Highway Three: Lethbridge to Cranbrook, B.C. (Historic Trails Society of Alberta, Lethbridge, 1987), spiritual possession of [the] land..., he found several Ktunaxa still able to intone a recognizable imitation of a Catholic prayer. Impressed, de Smet stayed the summer to proselytize, teach and minister, pronouncing Chief Michel a good and tender father to his people. de Smets corpulent, black-robed figure quickly became legend in the region as he hiked far and wide inseminating Ktunaxa culture with the concept of sedentary agriculture and harvests of plenty from the new seeds that he distributed. Near Creston he established a station, lAssomption, and one as well on Tobacco Plains, Sacré Cur de Marie, 60 miles down the Trench from here. He found the thousand or so people of the upper and lower bands destitute and dirty, but essentially healthy, honest and eager to exchange knowledge. The Flat-bowsthe lower Ktunaxahe adjudged not as advanced as people of the Trench. The Father was of particular comfort to the regions first recorded European settler, the Métis François Morigeau, who had come fur-trading into the region in the 18-aughts with David Thompson and stayed. Planting himself finally on Canal Flats near todays Lake Windermerea hundred or so kilometres up the Trench from herein 1819, he took a Native wife à la façon du pays. To Morigeaus everlasting relief, de Smet sanctified his union à la façon des Catholiques, baptized Madame Morigeau into the Faith as Baptiste, and blessed all les petites Morigeaux, as well. That fall of 1845, rather than return to his home at Saint Marys Mission to the Flatheads, which he had founded in the Bitterroot Valley on October 18th of 1841 near what is now Missoula, Montana, de Smet, his pen ever busy in his notebooks, hefted his bulk over the 2,150-metre-high White Man Pass to winter at the HBCs Rocky Mountain House on the Eastern Slopes where he tried to convince the Siksikah, Piikani and Kainaa (Blackfoot Confederacy) tribes to make peace with the Ktunaxa and the rest of the tribes with whom they were at constant war. In the spring he returned in company with an HBC expedition over the Athabaska and, after a brief stop in the Trench, continued on south to the Yellowstone valley to continue negotiations with Blackfeet. He would not see his Ktunaxa friends for many years.
In 1842, after four years work in the Willamette River valley of the Columbia District, Father Demers was charged with carrying the Word to the natives of Vancouvers Island. With the definition of the International Boundary in 1846 and the removal of the HBCs Pacific coast administration from Fort Vancouver to Fort Victoria, the Order of Jesus created a bishopric comprising the Island and British mainland possessions, and appointed Demers to its cathedra. With Father Louis DHerbomez as his Vicar of Missions, Demers extended his churchs succour to the regions native nations. Overwhelmed by some Tribes responsiveness and apparent need, the Jesuits in 1859 accepted the offer of the Congregation of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI)a lay order founded by Blessed Charles-Joseph-Eugene de Mazenod on October 2, 1815 at Aix-en-Provence, Franceto assist in the running of the missions in the Pacific watershed.
Father de Smet, looking up a lifetime of scattered friends on one of his many missions to establish peace between Native peoples and European invaders, is thought to have stopped over in the Trench a while in 1859. Six or seven years after de Smets visit Father Paschal Tosi of the Society of Jesus began making regular trips into the region. Because the Ktunaxa were constantly on the move with the seasons, hunting or fishing or gathering berries, Tosi never established a permanent mission in the seven or eight years that he visited them. However, with the resources of the OMIs Société des Missionnaires de Provence at its disposal, the Jesuits in the early 1870s decided that, with the tide of the gold rush having washed into their territory, it was time to establish permanent contact with the strong-willed Ktunaxa. The autumn of 1874 saw Father Léon M. Fouquet and Brother John Burns came to stay on the Upper Kootenay. By October they had raised a two-storey log house on property which Fouquet had acquired from John Shaw,2 the local Justice of the Peace, on St. Marys River, eleven kilometres above its confluence with the Kootenay at what was then Galbraiths Ferry, now Fort Steele. For the recently deceased C-J-E de Mazenod they named their endeavour Mission de St. Eugene. It was hard work clearing the land and building barns, houses, fences and a horse-powered grist mill, even with the help of Father Napoléon Grégoire who arrived in June of 1875. Buying and pre-empting properties, by 1879 Fouquet had collected 552 acres into the Missions estate.
Come 1879, bison on the Prairies east of the mountains were becoming rare. The economies of the regional Tribes, the Piikani (Peigan) and Kainaa (Blood) tribes of the Niitsi-tapi peoples (Blackfoot), were undermined, and the immediate ability of the Ktunaxas ability to feed themselves was affected. Though not yet numerous, Whites had taken up residence on the Ktunaxas territory, building fences, interfering with the Tribes freedom of movement. The Ktunaxa saw the writing on the wall, realized that change was upon them and began settling into houses on the Mission lands to learn the arts of agriculture and, especially, animal husbandry. The missionaries were eager to teach, and encouraged the Ktunaxa to try to pre-empt lands, an exercise continually frustrated by the bigoted provincial administration which felt its mandate was to restrict Indians to reservations to ensure that immigrating Europeans had ample lands to colonize. A tireless advocate for Native rights, Fouquet fought government policy and even wrangled with church authorities over their seeming collusion with Victoria. At the same time, believing himself an expert on dogma and matters of morality, Fouquet sought always to impress the True Way upon his wild flock.
Before the Sisters of Providence opened the Sacred Heart Indian School at the Mission in October of 1890 in an heroic attempt to prepare the stone age Ktunaxa for the impending destruction of their culture, Fouquet had fundamentally altered Ktunaxa society by introducing into it the notions of private property and a permanent chief with autocratic powers to monitor the behaviour of his people. To effect these changes and order Ktunaxa society, Fouquet installed the chief as the judge of an ecclesiastical court, introduced flogging as a preferred method of correction, and encouraged the chiefs to ingrain a European sense of sin and guilt into the Native community. Though the norm in Europe, the idea of hierarchical rule was completely alien to the Ktunaxa and led to tragic excesses as power corrupted the chieftainship. One chief, the great Isidore, successor to Chief Michel, so wholeheartedly embraced Fouquets methods that he gained a fearsome reputation for extreme cruelty in his determination to Christianize the souls of his people. His actions shocked the Ktunaxa who blamed the Church as the instigator of this atrocious behaviour. Fear and animosity slipped into the relationship between White and Native. Into this sadness came the prospecting Corsican, Father Pierre-Jean de Coccola, arriving at St. Eugenes on October 15th, 1887, to help Fouquet, introduce Niagara Peninsula apple trees to the Kootenays and set the Ktunaxa on the path of mineralogical explorations. After two years of familiarization, on November 1st of 1889, according to the authors of Forests, Farms and Families: A History of the Jaffray, Galloway and Sand Creek Communities (The Sand Creek Historical Book Committee, 1995), Fouquet turned management of the Mission over to Coccola.
Maybe a half mile from Coccolas little church, on the other side of Mission Road, to the west of a field populated with a crowd of new, bright-white crosses, the ponderous two-storey grey and brown stone residential school that the Oblates completed in 1912 was closed in 1971. Recognized as a heritage building by the province, it was not torn down, but rather refurbished as a casino hotel and convention centre under the auspices of the Ktunaxa - Kinbasket Tribal Council. Nearby, with the assistance of the Columbia Basin Trust, the Council renovated the missions beautiful 1913 barn and opened it in May of 2000 as the club house for the new St. Eugene Mission Resort par 72, 6,453-yard (from the mens blues) 18-hole golf course that the Band laid out on the fields surrounding.
In an arrogantly ill-conceived belief that segregation and punishment would expedite their rescue from ignorance of Christian sin and reconcile them to the transformed order of their world, for seventy years beginning around the turn of the twentieth century, many Native bands were compelled to send their children to schools run by various Christian organizations. Dare a family resist, these organizations were empowered to abduct and incarcerate the children. Behind locked doors, in a tragedy whose lingering effects are witnessed by the little white crosses in hundreds of Native burial grounds through out Western Canada, several generations suffered the outrages of degradation and heinous intimacies masquerading as education. Having been regimented in classes, separated from siblings and parents for years on end, beaten for uttering a word of their own language, thousands of guilt-ridden, maladjusted individuals were thrown onto their communities at the end of their school time and expected to partake in the larger, White society which, for the most part, rejected them and castigated them as useless. Robbed of their self-esteem and their worth to their own society, many of these people sought solace in bottles and needles as they struggled through their brief, tortured lives.
That the Ktunaxa have survived their bout with Church and State and are recovering their language and culture from the pales into which it was banished by progress is nothing short of miraculous. The overweening powers placed in the office of the Chief by Father Fouquet have gradually evaporated, and indeed, the hereditary nature of the chieftainship was destroyed in 1953 by the imposition of the Dominion governments First Nations electoral system. A new, Tribally operated elementary school is now built near Coccolas old church, and the older kids are bussed into Cranbrook to attend High School classes. Amazing, too, is the fact that the unhappy old Mission school was not razed by the Ktunaxa to expunge the memories of the indignities inflicted upon their bodies and souls.
It is not only Advanced Education that requires the Ktunaxa to go into Cranbrook. In May of 1900 the Sisters of Providence announced that they would heed the petitions of James Cronin and Michael J. Haney, CPs superintendent of construction on the CNL, to close the Mission hospital to devote their time to nursing at the Cranbrook hospital. Not only did the Sisters close the Mission hospital, claims Sylvia Thrup in her aforementioned thesis: they had the building moved to Cranbrook to replace the one which had been serving the settlement as a sick house since 1898.
Airport and the back road to Wycliffe
Away from St. Eugenes, Mission Road crosses the St. Mary on the 1994 Prairie concrete-decked bridge, climbs a six percent grade up out of the valley to intersect with Airport Road. To the right a few hundred metres is the new regional airport.
Cranbrook and area entered the Air Age on August 7th, 1919, when Captain Ernest Charles Hoy bumped The Little Red Devil, his Curtiss JN-4 Jenny bi-plane, down on a local field to refuel during his pioneering flight from the Lower Mainland to Calgary. He had departed the racetrack infield at Minoru Park in Richmond at 0413 hours on that morning and had stopped in Vernon and Grand Forks to refuel. Above Grand Forks he had picked up a wingman, Lieutenant Ernest O. Hall, who flew in tandem with Hoy over Castlegar and Nelson all the way to Kootenay Lake. There Hoy opted to brave the Crawford Pass and head directly for Cranbrook, whilst Hall banked to the starboard and followed the lake south to Creston where he wrecked his machine. Hoy barely cleared the Pass to land at Cranbrook at 1405 hours. Fuelled, he followed the BC Southern rails through the Crowsnest Pass and on to Lethbridge where he landed at 1822 hours, delivering some mail. Again fuelled, he left for Bowness near Calgary where he landed at 2055. It had taken him but 16 hours and 42 minutes to travel 870 miles that day.
When the Trans-Canada Airway was planned in the late 20s, Cranbrook was chosen to host a major airport. This was laid out on the westerly side of Theatre Road and officially opened on March 26, 1931, and by 1939 the Air Services Branch of the federal Department of Transport had equipped the Field with servicing facilities and navigational aids. The Depression, however, and W.W.II delayed scheduled air service in Cranbrook until 1947. By the 1960s the advent of jet aircraft requiring longer runways and more sophisticated facilities forced the airport to move to its present location. With a 1,230-metre-long runway and a crude terminal, the new site was dedicated on July 13th, 1968. The new terminal was completed in 1974. Though jets can land here, few do since the crew of Pacific Western Airlines Flight 314 attempted to abort their landing on February 11th, 1978, when a miscommunication left a snow-sweeping vehicle working on the runway. Pilot Chris Miles and his co-pilot, Peter Vanoort, couldnt fight the Boeing 737 back into the air and forty-one of 48 souls on board were killed outright, shaking Transport Canadas confidence in the location. Though AirBC and other regional carriers continue to land Dash 8s, Beech 1900s and sundry smaller aircraft at the port, its reputation was damaged by the disaster and it has not become the transportation hub that local officials had hoped. Despiteor, perhaps, because ofthis, the City of Cranbrook bought the operation from Transport Canada on March 13th, 1997.
Turning left on Airport Road sees one to the 95A in a couple of kilometres, but crossing the Road and continuing on the Wycliffe-Mission Road meanders the traveller unhurried through a few miles of scenic countryside populated by ranchettes and acreages to reach the 95A at Wycliffe.3
Most of Wycliffe is off the highway a couple of hundred metres, down in the gentle valley of the St. Marys, on the far side of the river. The community is notable to the non-resident only in that here the Calgary-based Otis Staples Lumber Company used to run a large operation in the early years of this century. On the CPRs Kimberley Branch just north-west of Wycliffe, near its level crossing of the 95A, is the site of the switch which used to send trackage carrying the two Shays and the Climax locie of the St. Mary and Cherry Creek Railwaywhich Staples incorporated in 1906north and east up into the woods to collect logs. When Staples shut down operations in 1927, Wycliffe nearly perished and remains pretty small still.
Fewer than ten up-hill kilometres from Wycliffe, the 95A slips over Cow Creek and enters Marysville along 304th Street. Writes Willa McClure in her essay The Forgotten Years: Memories of Marysville, one of the first White settlers in the area was William Meacham, who homesteaded here in 1890 on a plot of relatively level land near the falls on Mark Creek. Far-sighted, or perhaps just hopeful that the ore discoveries farther up the Creek would attract a population of miners requiring land upon which to build a community, Meacham staked out a townsite on his property in 1894. He had it officially surveyed, according to the authors of Mountain Treasures: The History of Kimberley, B.C. (Kimberley Senior Citizens History Book Committee, Marysville, 1979), in 1897. How productive was Meachams land mattered little to the Sullivan Group Mining Company of Spokane which in the later 1890s was looking for a place to build a smelter to reduce the costs of shipping the output of the Sullivan at Kimberley. Attracted mainly by the power generating potential of the Falls, the company bought Meacham out and began in 1902 to construct a simple, one-stack lead smelter (of sorts, qualifies the author of the Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for
1925). The Group enticed Ed Dedolphe and his assayer, Louis Johnson, to quit the Kootenay Ore Company and take charge of the project. Clay suitable for manufacturing bricks was located on the nearby Belanger ranch and the production was soon underway. Production, claims McClure, ran to an unlikely 30,000 bricks per day.
Even before the smelter was begun, Marysville was a-building. The Group had incorporated a townsite company under the laws of the State of Washington in October of 1901 and had completed a sales office on site that month. E.J. Clayton was the sole agent. One of the first buildings raised was by Al. Bales: the log-built Marysville Hotel. Opened in 1900, it burned in 1903, the same year that Jack McDonald opened his Central Hotel, selling it to long-time owner Paul Handley in 1906. Mr. J. Drew contracted the Ongee brothers to build a hotel, the Royal, opened on July 18, 1904. Overlooking Mark Creek, the Falls View Hotel was completed in 1906.4 The Marysville News periodically commented on all the activity.
Construction of the smelter was halting, interrupted by a hiatus in financing due to the depressed lead markets of the time. Dedolphe apparently was not the man for the job, and the plant was finally completed by L.S. Austin in 1903 after the building had sat open to the weather for a time. The actual works was reportedly a hodgepodge of various designs centred on a pair of lead blast furnaces furnished by the Union Iron Works of Spokane, Washington. It quickly failed its owners expectations when faced with the complexities of the ore it was intended to smelt. However, because the ore was of such low grade that it had to be concentrated before shipment to a refiner would make the Sullivan economically viable, the success of the smelter was deemed essential. In 1904 the Group sold itself to the Federal Mining Company of Spokane which that year rebuilt the smelter, installing three advanced Huntington-Heberlein roasters. They did no good, and though engineers tinkered with the process and ran some 75,000 tons through it over the next few years, the results were distinctly unsatisfactory. Federal finally admitted defeat during the Wall Street Panic of 1907 and late that year shut the smelter down for good. Having acquired Federals entire operation by the beginning of W.W.I, CPs Consolidated Mining and Smelting arm gutted the Marysville smelter, taking its useful parts to Trail. The bricks were salvaged for re-use, and the remains were savaged by a rampaging Mark Creek which crested on June 18th, 1916. Today, nothing remains of the plant.
Marysville, thanks to its proximity to the steady employment to be found in the Kimberley mines, survived. Some stores were built, a school was opened in 1903, Miss O.P. Van Allen being the first teacher. Concerned that the entire settlement might burn down, in 1906 some citizens formed a Board of Trade mainly to organize a volunteer fire brigade. They were unable to save the Royal which burned down in 1908, a year after it was purchased by Herb Sawyer.
It wasnt mining that employed all hands in Marysville. Many men commuted daily to the big Staples mill in Wycliffe, an in 1908 the great Crows Nest Pass Lumber Company, Limited, built its Mill No.2 on the St. Marys River nearby. Though it was only a 40,000 board-foot per day operation, it supplied steady work for a number of hands until the timber ran out in the 1930s. Crows Nest Pass is remembered for the big log drives it ran down the St. Marys to the Kootenay and thence down it to the companys main mill at Wardner. The last drive was in 1910.
Come the 1920s, an easy walk up-stream from Marysville on Mark Creek, Chapman Camp sprung up to house the workers at Consolidated Mining and Smeltings concentrator plant up on Concentrator Ridge above the Marks left bank, to the east. As the stores in Marysville were closer than those at Kimberley, the denizens of the Camp ensured the continued prosperity of the merchants of Marysville. The school, too, was well patronized, so much so that the Bird brothers, who had bought the declining Central Hotel from Handley in 1920, cleaned up the old joint, called it a hall and offered it as additional classroom space. It eventually ended up as a cheap rooming house.
Reflecting Marysvilles homesteading roots, animal husbandry supported Marysville, as well. The entrepreneurial Laura Keer saved enough cash by 1911 to enable her and her husband, Benjamin Robert Keer, to buy a pair of dairy cow calves for their familys farm. They gradually built up a herd, discovering that sunflowers, given a little attention, would grow like weeds in the valleys soil, and were much to the tooth of her cattle. In 1925 Consolidated Mining and Smelting, which had by then controlled almost every aspect of the local mining industry, decided to diversify into agriculture and bought the Keers entire operation. The Company expanded the business, importing Ayrshire cattle and building an enormous gable roof barn. The Depression crippled the enterprise, but CM&S persevered into the 40s when it evidently decided to refocus its efforts on its core industries. Stewart McClure took over much of the business, eventually building a modern dairy up in Kimberley, relying on local farmers to supply him with raw milk.
Marysville finally incorporated itself as a Village on March 7th, 1949, and amalgamated with Kimberley and Chapman Camp on January 1st, 1969. Since, the community has grown with tiny subdivisions and new residential streets supporting a couple of blocks of commercial facades along the highway.
Immediately out of Marysville highway 95A5 bridges Mark Creek on a 1953 concrete-deckd span. On the townside of the span, a little path leads the time-rich visitor from the highway to a foot-bridge over the Mark and then down the Creeks right bank past a series of lovely little cascades which culminate in a grand fall of around a 100 feet over a precipice of ancient siltstone into a picturesque pool of black green. Marysville Falls.
On to Kimberley
Across the Marysville Mark Creek bridge, 95A hard rights to ascend to Kimberley, generally following the Creek and the course of the old Marysville Road, opened for traffic in 1911. Five kilometres on, past St. Marys Lake Road to the Kimberley Riverside Campground, is the neighbourhood of Chapman Camp, named in the early 20s for the contemporary superintendent of the Sullivan. On the other side of the Creek, on property now occupied by cul-de-sacs and crescents of houses and playgrounds, stood the CPR yards and locomotive servicing facilities, including a turntable-fed enginehouse. Six houses were counted in the Camp along what was then 2nd Avenue by 1923, and more were soon built. In 1926 there was enough of a population of children that a school was opened. For $10,000 CM&S built Oughtred Hall for local recreational activities, inaugurated on December 10th, 1926, with a lounge, a library, and a post office. Notable was the Green that was laid out for baseball and football. There was also an open-air ice rink. In 1937 the Camp was incorporated as a Village: J.T. Knighton, Chairman Commissioner.
From the Camp, about a mile of urban highway delivers travellers onto the original Kimberley townsite along Wallinger Avenue. Those with a fascination for all things railroad can leave the highway just before the Camp, recross the Mark and, closely paralleling the former alignment of the CPRsNorth Star branch, let Rotary Drive gently deliver them into the City. Partly screened by the poplars higher on the eastern slopes of the Mark stood CM&Ss concentrator and, south of it, the campus of College of the Rockies centred on the former fertilizer plant.
However they access the City, railroad buffs are in for a bit of a disappointment in Kimberley: gone is the 1901 gambrel roofed ex-CPR station on Ross Street wherein the chamber of commerces Tourist and Business Information Bureau worker used to tell visitors that, at 1,113 metres, Kimberley became Canadas Highest City when it when it was incorporated on March 29th, 1944. The City retains that distinction, but the old station, adjudged too decrepit to save, was pushed down in 1999 or 2000, replaced by a drugstore. The ancient wooden caboose that used to keep it company is now up at the tourist centre on Gerry Sorensen Way.
The North Star mine
In the dawning days of the Gay Nineties, Father Coccola of the St. Eugene Mission was by no means the only one in this region looking for treasure. Joe Bourgeois, late of Red Mountain Camp, and his new partner, Jim Langhill, were among the dozens of prospectors hard at work examining St. Marys River region for shows of ores. On what is now North Star Hill, sometime in the summer of 1892, Bourgeois and Langhill, with the proverbial help of a native Ktunaxa woman, found what they were looking for. With the gleam of riches in their collective eye, they rushed to Fort Steele to stake their claim, the North Star.
Successful prospectors like Joe Bourgeois knew what outcrops of ore looked like. Typically, they knew how to live rough in the wilds, how to do without, how to persevere. They knew how to work hard every day, scrabbling across mountain faces, hammering samples from likely shows. They knew how to register a promising claim and how to dig a hole into a lode. But what they knew ultimately counted for little in the development of a productive mine, for it was the whos that they didnt know that barred them from the real wealth in their discoveries. With few exceptions, they didnt know the men who controlled the Money.
Bourgeois and Langhill were typical. They hoped that the North Star was worth a fortune, and after they hacked a bit into the exposed galena, they knew it. Bourgeois and Langhill had, however, no access to the financial resources needed to develop their find, and by August of 1893 they had sold their holdings for $40,000 to a consortium of Eastern businessmen headed by Donald D. Mann, the railroad builder. Forming the North Star Mining Company with himself as president, H.S. Holt as secretary, and W.C. Van Horne and Richard Angus as major shareholders, Mann began to develop a mine. Two distinct compositions of ores was found: argentiferous galena with zinc blend which ran to 68% lead and 43 ounces per ton of silver, and oxides and carbonates of iron and lead which could yield 61 oz. per ton of silver and assayed 57% lead. Soon the trains of packhorses that plodded down the St. Marys valley a couple of dozen miles to the steamboats on the Kootenay could not keep pace with the Mines output. While he was spending $11,000 in 1895 to drive the McGintyor North Star WaggonTrail almost due east 21 miles and a thousand feet down to North Star Landing on the Kootenay, Mann also acquired surrounding leases. Come 1896 the company, in addition to the North Star, owned the O.K., the Dreadnought, the Buckthorn, eleven other named claims and, in conjunction with Mr. Wade, the Stemwinder in the gulch of the Mark Creek valley.6 Two years later around 15 men were employed in the North Star doing development work and shovelling mixed ore into jute sacks, 16 to the ton, heaving them onto waggons or winter sleds bound down the McGinty Trail to the Landing and thence by river boat to Jennings, Montana, where they were off-loaded onto Jim Hills Great Northern Railway for transport to the big Boston and Montana Consolidated smelter at Great Falls, Montana. There the 8,000 tons delivered in 1898 proved to be 50% pure lead and gave up nearly 12.5 tons of silver.
Unsurprisingly, as the its chairman of its board of directors, W.C. Van Horne, was interested in the North Star, come 1899 the CPR had completed its branch line out to Kimberley from Cranbrook and the North Star was swinging ten tons of ore per hour with a Bleichert wire-rope tramway system down to a 350-ton trackside bunker. The ore was fantastically rich, running to 55% pure lead right out of the mine. Additionally, in each of the 16,000 tons of ore shipped out that year there was 20 to 25 oz. of silver. With the discovery of another minable lode on the properties, expectations were that the North Star had many years of life left. The new deposit, however, proved small and by 1904 the mine was failing. The final cleaning up of the mine in preparation for abandonment was begun in 1905 and the next year it shipped but 2900 tons while the company examined its Stemwinder property in the valley below. The Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for 1909 records that in the process of cleaning up, the North Star miners identified a thin envelope of carbonate ore which had surrounded the original lode. This proved worth extracting for its value as a flux in the smelting process until expenses over-ran profits in 1910 forcing the closure of the Mine. The demands of War rekindled interest in the Mine and in 1918 local interests led by O.C. Thompson moved in to clean out the stopes and winnow the dump to recover some 16,000 tons of lead carbonate ore. Fire wiped out some of the Mines vital infrastructure in the year of plummeting prices, 1919, and it was left ignored until the Porcupine Goldfields Development and Finance Company of London, England, assumed a five year lease on the property in 1924 as lead prices began recovering. Porcupine did some diamond drilling and then concentrated is efforts on the Stemwinder from which it mined 28,000 tons in 1926, sending half to CM&S at Trail and half to the Snowstorm custom mill at Troy, Montana. Operations were suspended on the Stemwinder in 1927 and The Annual Report for 1929 notes that a small, independent crew gleaned but 114 tons from the North Star.
The Sullivan mine
The North Star pales into insignificance when compared to the career of the mighty mine facing it across the Mark Creek valley on what is now Sullivan Hill.
Among the dozens of prospectors which were combing this region in the early 1890s was a trio of young Americans grub-staked by James Cronin, the Spokane-based mine developer. In May of 1892, John W. Cleaver, Patrick Sullivan and Michael Holland set out from Spokane to make their fortunes in the Kootenays. Two months later it was only Cleaver and Sullivan who made their way over the Rose Pass in the Purcells above Crawford Bay and wandered down the St. Mary River to Fort Steele where they met E.C. (Edward) Smith and W.C. (Walter) Burchett. Joe Bourgeois and Jim Langhill had just registered their North Star and the boys decided to go back up to Mark Creek and have a look-see. North Star Hill was completely claimed, but on the hillside opposite the North Stars exposure, recounts the Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for 1925, Sullivan found an outcrop of complicated galena ore that would eventually prove to be the tip of a lode measuring 7,000 feet long and over 300 feet thick. The partners staked four claims and Burchett, in a Shakespearean mood as he filled out the registration papers in the Gold Commissioners office in Fort Steele on August 29th, 1892, named two of them the Hamlet and the Shylock. Their claims secured and with the end of the season approaching, the lads headed back to Spokane to inform Cronin of his good fortune. Pat Sullivan was killed in Idaho over that winter and his partners named their mine after him.
Like Bourgeois and Langhill of the North Star claim, Cleaver, Smith and Burchett, the surviving partners in the Sullivan, had but indirect connections to Big Money. Cronin, who was influential in those circles in Spokane, came up in to the Trench in the summer of 1893 to appraise for himself the Mark Creek prospects, but he was side-tracked by Father Coccola who took him to see what Pielle had discovered on Moyie Lake, the future St. Eugene Mine. Dedicating himself to that find, Cronin renounced his interest in the Mark Creek properties. Realizing that they lacked the resources to develop their discovery, in 1896 Cleaver, Smith and Burchett bonded their claims for $24,000 to an association of Spokane businessmen which included Colonel W.M. Ridpath and judge G.H. Turner. The Association sent out a crew to evaluate the property and on the strength of that appraisal formed the Sullivan Group Mining Company (SGM) under the presidency of F.P. Hogan. Tapping the same capital markets as the Colonels other Canadian mining enterprise, the Le Roi on Red Mountain at Rossland, B.C., SGM acquired the surrounding claims7 and poured money into development in the expectation that the end-of-the-century decline in the price of lead would reverse itself in the new century. Trenches were cut across the face of the outcrop to determine its extent and by 1898 an adit had been inclined into the lode under the direction of Edwd. Smith, who had been retained to direct on-site operations. Through a layer of iron sulphide ores trending to iron-galena and into the underlying body of fine-grained galena the adit was pushed, water being constantly pumped out. Soon the Sullivan was contributing heavily to the thirty tons per day that 22 freight waggons were clearing out of the ore bins at Kimberley and rolling down the McGinty Trail to Kootenay Landing. The ore proved not quite as rich as the North Stars, running to 43% lead with only to 17.5 oz. of silver to the ton. Nevertheless, there appeared to be a lot of it and when in 1899 the CPR finally completed its North Star branch line to Kimberley, SGM was eager to begin shipping by rail to the Hall Mines smelter at Nelson and the Canadian Smelting Works8 at Trail. In 1900 the Branch was extended two miles to the Sullivan where 40 men were building a water-driven compressor plant on the Creek and mining with four air drills. Only 5,000 tons was extracted that year.
The assays for 1900 revealed that the Sullivans ore was decreasing in quality, running only 34% lead and yielding 16.5 ounces of silver per ton. This made the costs of transport a significant burden and, coupled with the penalties imposed by the Trail smelter due to the ores high concentrations of zinc, served to dramatically reduce SGMs profits. The solution to these problems was to have been the Marysville smelter, and its failure left SGM with no option but to put its holdings up for sale. In 1904 a buyer was found in the Spokane-based Federal Mining Company, a subsidiary of M. Guggenheim & Sons giant American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO), an outfit which had had an interest in the area since the early summer of 1897 when Simon and William Guggenheim had examined and purchased the Dean claims on North Star Hill. ASARCO apparently risked no capital, making sure that Federal kept SGM on a tight financial leash, requiring it to pay its own way as it tinkered with the smelter and worked the Sullivan and began work on the Stemwinder claim as metal prices weakened through the mid-19-aughts. In 1907 the Mine shipped 30,000 tons which comprised more iron20%than lead16.5%with 14% of its weight in zinc and running only seven ounces per ton of silver. The ore was worth little in those recessive times and, having been carried by creditors for several years, when the cash-crunch of 1907 bit into the economy, SGM was vulnerable. It shut down operations and allowed creditors to foreclose on unpaid bills.
With its big galena producer, the St. Eugene at Moyie, showing signs of giving out, CPs Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (CM&S) sent Selwyn Gwillym Blaylock and R.H. Pat Stewart to evaluate the Sullivan which, along with the North Star and the Stemwinder, was burrowing into the same formationthe Aldridgeas the St. Eugene some 45 kilometres to the south south-east. Blaylock and Stewart determined that the Sullivan had been poorly developed and had potential, and if its ore was hand-sorted to remove the worst of the zinc, it would run much more easily through the Trail works. Accordingly, a bid was made to lease the property, but Federal could undertake no new business until the foreclosure proceedings had been completed. According to Jeremy Mouat in his previously mentioned Roaring Days, strangely, at the liquidation auction conducted by the local sheriff in July of 1909, Federal and some of its main creditorsthe Crows Nest Pass Coal Company being the largestbought the Sullivans assets on a 60/40 basis and formed the Fort Steele Mining and Smelting Company. By that December CM&S spent $10,000 to acquire a year long lease of the Sullivan with an option to buy Federals share of Fort Steele Mining after the lease expired. While identifying and mining only the ore least contaminated with zinc, the CM&S instituted a regimen of careful ore sorting. These measures so improved the quality of the ore delivered to Trail that money was spent on further modifications to the Mines sorting plant. Confident that its metallurgists were making progress in the zinc conundrum, CM&S exercised its option and by 1913 had bought out the rest of the Sullivans shareholders for an estimated $200,000. Output had been increased over the years and by 1914 the Sullivan was the largest lead producer in Canada, and though the deposit that Pat Sullivan had originally located in 1892 was nearing exhaustion, an extension of the lode lying farther into the argillaceous quartzites and argillites that make up the Aldridge formation had been located by diamond drilling. To get at it, a second adit, the 3900-foot level, was dug in from the side of the Mark Creek valley up-stream from Kimberley. Dormitories, a cookhouse, gigantic track-side ore bins were constructed, and hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into modernizing the mine with an electric railway and new tools. On the slopes of Sullivan Hill nearly a thousand feet above the 3900-foot level, what was commonly called Top Mine was driven into the load and a 1½ mile-long aerial tram installed to swing the ore down to the bins and loading facilities along the railway spur by the 3900-foot level. Top Mine was so far away from the domiciles of Kimberley that a community, Top Camp, grew up near the entrance. A school was opened there in 1922, and CM&S built a community gathering place, Warren Hall, for $10,000, replete with twin bowling alleys, a billiards room, a hardwood-floored gymnasium and a lounge. Additional recreational facilities included an ice rink and tennis courts. Meanwhile, in Kimberleys central business district, CM&S built a fine office building and, for the convenience of its workersand its own profitthe big Mark Creek Store.
As rumour of War began to push up the price of metals, CM&S finished remodelling the Moyie concentrator to separate zinc-rich ore from the Sullivans run-of-mine. The combination of the concentrator with the expensive electrolytic process that CM&S introduced to the Trail refinery enabled the company to make a profit from zinc only at the high metals prices sustained by War. However, metallurgist R.W. Diamond was hard at work for the company and by Armistice on November 11th, 1918, he had vastly improved the Australian froth floatation process of separating metal ores from each other by specific gravity.
Diamonds work was almost effort wasted, for the end of the war destroyed the demand for zinc and all other base metals and in 1920 the Sullivans own careful separation of ores seemed to satisfy the Trail smelters reduced appetites. That year, of zinc ore nearly a quarter million tons was shipped, along with 13,200 tons of lead ore and 4300 tons of iron pyrites. Despite the economic downturn, J.J. Warren and his CM&S staff the economic forecasters decided to go ahead with an expansion of the Kimberley operation. While continuing the development of the lower 3900 foot level of the Mine they decided to build a huge concentration plant at nearby Chapman Camp. Designed around Diamonds new technology, the Concentrator was officially opened on August 24th, 1923. Fed a diet of raw mine-run, the mill was soon grinding 2,500 tons per day into a coarse powder which, after treatment, yielded some 400 tons of concentrate. In 1924 with the price of lead rising and those of zinc and silver stable, the Concentrator digested 1.03 million tons of ore and its output overwhelmed the Trail smelters capacity to absorb it all. To Belgium and Butte, Montana, went 44,000 and 6,000 tons of zinc concentrate, respectively. More than any other factor, Diamonds concentrator made the CM&S successful.
By 1926 the Sullivan was producing from its 3900 foot level some 3,000 tons per day of ore that averaged but eleven percent. lead, 10.5% zinc, 36.5% iron and assayed a poor three ounces of silver per ton. Nonetheless, the Concentrator made the operation economic, and even though prices for lead and zinc were slipping, the plant was expanded to accept the Mines entire output. In 1927 when the 800 men in the Mine were extracting 4,000 tons per day, the Concentrator was modified to float off cadmium-rich ore, a year later to recover bismuth. In 1929 the Sullivan output 1.8 million tons of ore.
CM&Ss workforce in Kimberley totalled 3,000 in 1925, and every citizen of the settlement eyed with apprehension the newspaper headlines of October, 1929. Though the Great Stock Market Crash of that month ultimately destroyed the economy of other towns and withered them to shadows of their former fullness, Kimberley boomed along, working what was in 1929 recognized as the largest lead and zinc producer in the World. With faith that the markets would soon recover, CM&S began clearing the community of Top Mine preparatory to opening a pit mine.9 At the same time, a diamond-drilling program allowed experts to predict that the Hill held reserves enough to keep the mine producing its 6,000 tons per day for the next 150 years. All through the 30s the Sullivan kept disgorging ore by the trainload along what would eventually total some 45 miles of three-foot gauge, mostly subterranean, electric railway; enough ore that no matter what the Market price sunk to, CM&S could usually show a profit on its Kimberley operations. World War Two demanded that the Mines production be increased and the Concentrator be adapted to treat ores of tin in addition to its normal tasks. The Concentrator was equipped to recover indium in 1949, and a new high-capacity haulage way, the high line, was completed, exiting the Mine at the 3700-foot level and over-flying the Lois Creek valley on a towering trestle to run directly to the concentrator.
To improve local air quality and profit from the sulphur gas given off in the ore roasting process at the Concentrator, in 1951 the company commenced constructing a fertilizer plant on a railway siding halfway between Marysville and the Concentrator. Eleven point two million dollars and two years later, it was operational, out-putting 70,000 tons of ammonium phosphate per year. Tailings from the concentrator were roasted and the resultant sulphur dioxide captured and hydrated to make sulphuric acid. Ground phosphate rock from Montana was then admixed to yield phosphoric acid to which ammonia from a company-owned plant in Calgary was added. The product, ammonium phosphate, was then dehydrated, granulated and stored until bagged for market mainly as Elephant Brand fertilizer. In 1962 the plants productivity was increased to 170,000 tons per year.
In the later 1950s, with the price of steel rising, CM&S began building a small blast furnace by the fertilizer plant to smelt iron from the mountains of tailings that were accumulating around the Concentrator. In 1961, after an expenditure of $7.5 million, 50 tons of pig-iron per day began rolling out of the furnace, bound for the companys steel works in Vancouver. So well received was the iron that a sixteen million dollar program was initiated in 1962 to treble the mills output to 110,000 tons per year. Ten years later, however, imports of cheap Japanese steel shut that branch of the business down, sending the first shiver of economic malaise trembling through Kimberley. The chill bit to the bone when the fertilizer plant closed in the summer of 1987.
Like all one industry towns, Kimberley is used to life on the edge. With the Sullivan approaching exhaustion with no more ore identifiable, in 1991 Cominco began explaining its Decommissioning and Closure Plan to the residents of Kimberley and other interested parties. At the production rate of two million tons a year the Mine would be exhausted with in a decade, the company announced. True to the prediction, the last shift, to the skreel of bag-pipes, emerged from the Sullivan on December 21st, 2001.
Mark Creek Crossing and Kimberley
According to Betty Oliver in her essay, Kimberley - A Mining Town in Mountain Treasures: The History of Kimberley, B.C., rancher Robert Q. Jennings was the first settler in this part of the Mark Creek valley. Whether of not Jennings had a legitimate claim to the land, Oliver doesnt mention. When miners arrived in the valley, they set up their camp along the Creek, naturally, and the settlement became known as Mark Creek Crossing. As the value of the North Star and the Sullivan mines became evident, wooden housing replaced the tents and the Camp took on an air of permanence. Who gave him the authority is not clear, but in June of 1896 Colonel Ridpath of the Sullivan Group re-named the Crossing Kimberley10 for the diamond mining centre then booming in South Africa. Surveyors T.T. and A.S. McVittie of Fort Steele were hired in 1898 to lay out the townsite centred on the McGinty waggon road, renamed Spokane Street, the present Boundary Street, Leadenhall Street, North Star Avenue and Jennings Avenue defining its bounds.
Lumber to construct many of the earlier buildings in Kimberley, remembers Edna neé Taylor in her contribution to Mountain Treasures: The History of Kimberley, B.C., came from a saw mill that Charles Gaskell established at some unspecified date on the toes of what is now Concentrator Hill. By the time Hugh Taylor and his brothers Simon, James, Robert and Alexander bought the operation from Prest Lewis in 1906, it was known as the Kimberley Finishing and Supply Company. Always pinched for labour, the Taylors imported Indian workers from the Sub-Continent despite the active official discrimination against Oriental immigration. The shortage of hands brought on by the demands of the Great War finally put the brothers out of business in 1915.
In the pamphlet A Salute to Kimberley: 18901999 available on the World Wide Web, writers for the Kimberley Daily Bulletin note that there were but 41 folks resident in Kimberley in the census year of 1901. By then there were several hotels in operation: The Kimberley, J.M. Carrolls Ontario, The Forsythe, The Spokane, Harry Webster Drews North Star. Jim Carroll had branched out into the dry goods business with a store which he opened in April of 1899. On Spokane Street, Chas. Estmere sold building lots in the townsite from his store, and therein opened a local postal bureau on December 1st, 1899. Thomas Summers operated a store, as well. A large livery barn had been built to stable the many horses that had hauled the ore waggons back and forth along the McGinty between the mines and North Star Landing. A log-built school had been built in 1900 and Miss Mary Jack engaged to tutor the students. A second school up at North Star was raised in 1902, Miss C. Hall presiding over classes for at least the first year. The White School was built sometime during the 19-aughts. Only the Methodists thought it necessary to purpose-build a house of worship,11 the other congregations merely met in halls above stores or in one of the members houses. For years priest regularly came up from St. Eugene to lead mass, Protestant reverends and preachers would come up from Cranbrook.
The second decade of the Twentieth Century ushered in an era of secure employment as CM&S took over operations of the Sullivan. The company threw a dam across upper Mark Creek and built a powerhouse to generate electricity for use in the mine. Excess power was made available to the community. Good use was made of the new convenience in Handleys Hall, one of the few venues for entertainment off the sports fields and ice rinks. Movies, when available, were projected on the wall, shows were staged. The dam wasnt very well built, and after days of rain on slopes denuded of every tree that could be milled into lumber, the weight of water in the reservoir overpowered the structure on June 18th, 1916. The powerhouse was, washed out several creek-side residences were smashed. In 1919, the year that the Bank of Montreal opened the first bank in Kimberley, the community was evacuated when terrific fires on the slopes of North Star and Sullivan hills converged and threatened to fall upon the buildings below. When the smoke had cleared, the Spanish influenza attacked the community, carrying away several victims as it did in most communities throughout the World. On top of it all, CM&S, faced with a drastically reduced demand for its metals, demanded that the workers that it was willing to retain accept wage roll-backs. The result was a strike and labour unrest as the radical One Big Union began signing up miners and surface workers alike, much to the alarm of the company.
The post-War downturn was relatively short-lived in Kimberley: the CPR had built an efficient organization in southern B.C., hauling ore form its own mines to its own smelters and refinery on its own rails. The Sullivan was soon back at work and expanding. To house the increasing workforce, CM&S cleared and levelled a tract about 25 metres above Kimberley on Sullivan Hill. Named McDougall Townsite for the first CM&S manager of the Sullivan, Clarence McDougall, who had died a Major in the Great War, by 1923 it boasted a few streets of company-owned residences embracing several single men dormitories and a huge cookhouse/dining hall. Overlooking12 Townsite, as it is now commonly called, was a large recreation centre. McDougall Hall cost CM&S $60,000 to build, and offered bowling lanes, a billiards room, a gym for basketball and badminton and assemblies. Near by was a five-sheet curling rink, a lawn for bowling and tennis courts. In the first decade of the Third Millennium the neat little community is most noted for Cominco Gardens, an horticultural showplace that CM&S opened in 1927 and has bequeathed to the City. In the fall, a herds of mule deer, taking refuge in the City from hunters guns, munch placidly on the flowers and herbs not fenced off, unconcerned by the bipeds and their flash-popping cameras.
Reflective of the growing prosperity of Kimberley in the 1920s is the number of churches that were built in this decade. In 1922 the first resident Catholic priest in the settlement, Fa. Bessette, raised a small building which was replaced by the extant Sacred Heart Church in 1927. The Presbyterians bought the old R.C. building and used it until they built St. Andrews in 1949. Early in the decade the Methodists built another church to replace the one lost to fire in 1911, which became Kimberley United after the formation of the United Church of Canada on June 10th, 1925. On November 15th, 1925, All Saints Anglican was dedicated. In 1929 the Pentecostal congregation erected their Full Gospel Tabernacle.
The matter of education was addressed in the 20s, as well. In 1920 the core building of Central School was completed, and had been joined and interconnected with three similar 2-storey buildings by 1929. In 1925 a wood-framed High School was raised in town, replaced in 1928 by brick-built McKim High13 in the Creek valley south of Kimberley.
Hospital care had long been a private business in Kimberley. CM&S had set aside sickrooms for its employees in its bunkhouses at Mine Top and the 3900-level, and a succession of nurses had tended to the hurt, ill and expectant in their cottages until the MacDougall Hospital was completed in 1923. The Hospital was expanded in 1927, and a clinic added in 1944. The whole facility replaced by an entirely modern structure up on the McDougall bench beside Cominco Gardens in 1960.
Catering to diversions of a less pious nature, the Orpheum Theatre was built on Spokane Street in 1924, and that same year the Kimberley Golf Club got its start with six holes on a tract overlooking the St. Marys River adjacent to Marysville. There was talk of building a covered hockey rink, and of upgrading the water-heating capability of the swimming pool. In 1929 or 30 the Kimberley Ski Club organized to build the communitys first ski jump at Blarchmont on North Star Hill. In 1931 the Kimberley Dynamiters hockey team formed and played in the Seniors League of the B.C. Amateur Hockey Association.
Completing the installation of a few miles of wire, in 1925 the Cranbrook-based Kootenay Telephone Lines Company began offering limited phone service. By 1929 the volunteer fire department had 21 emergency call-boxes in operation, and owned a motorized fire engine.
All this public development was a heavy burden on what was still an unicorporated community. Added to this were the environmental problems caused by a concentration of human beings and their animals in a small area. The provision of clean drinking water was a concern, as were the overflowing septic tanks polluting the Creek. Users of electricity relied on the over-production of that commodity in the CM&Ss rebuilt powerhouse, at least until East Kootenay Power Company transmission lines were strung into the area in the mid 20s. The CPR and its subsidiary, CM&S, were not the most benevolent of corporations, but in order to maintain a healthy, pacific workforce, they were certainly willing to chip in. The Province of B.C. had not yet embraced the paternalistic social ideals for which it would eventually become (in)famous as Canadas Left Coast, and indeed, when the Kimberley Board of Trade approached Victoria with its hat in its hand, it was told to incorporate the community and borrow development money. It was twenty years, however, before the paperwork could be completed. On March 29th, 1944, provincial legislation created the City of Kimberley: Cliff Swan, mayor. Not a moment too soon, either: in the aftermath of the half-million dollars worth of damage that the rampaging Mark inflicted on the City on May 25th, 1948, it was thought wise to invest significant sums incarcerating the Creek in a concrete channel in hopes of avoiding a similar catastrophe. So far, so good.
War was good to Kimberley. CM&S worked flat-out to supply the elements of destruction to a World gone berserk, and paid its workforce accordingly. Under the Wartime Housing Plan, 125 domiciles were added to the Citys inventory of dwellings. Its first tourist motel, the Silvia Auto Court opened six cabins in 1945, soon adding more.
As the first decade of the 21st Century matures, long-time residents marvel at the change that has come over the City of Kimberley, greatly expanded on January 1st, 1969, by amalgamating with Chapman Camp and Marysville. Since a 1970s exploration drilling programme found no more reserves of ore in Sullivan Hill, the shade of the shut-down has had the City searching for another tax base. That base turned out to be the ski-run that the Ski Club had built on North Star Mountain back in 1930. With help from CM&S the facilities had been up-dated over the years and so allowed the City to repackage itself as a resort. But, not just a plain old Canadian mountain Banff-type resort: since it adopted the theme in 1973 under the guidance of long-time mayor, Jim Ogilvie, Kimberley, as visitors may have guessed from the worlds largest cuckoo clock delighting children in the downtown pedestrian mall, has been a Bavarian resort. The motif is light-heartedly spurious, for not many of the folks are of German extraction: most are of Scandinavian, Italian and British descent. However, with window boxes of flowers in season, false shutters nailed to walls all gaily painted and frescod, and a genuine Seventeenth Century gasthaus imported in sections from Bavaria, Kimberley really wants visitors to believe that they have been magically transported to the heart of Europe as they set for a spell in a beer garden on the Platzl14 and drink in the Citys ambience. Just for fun, every July the City hosts the Oldtime Accordian Championships.
With plans to develop it into an up-scale destination, Charlie Locke and his Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) bought the ski hill and the adjacent former site of the Happy Hans Campground for 2.7 million 1998 dollars. Though its ambitious schemes drove it to seek protection under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act on May 9th, 2001, RCR succeeded in emplacing a four star Marriott hotel on the site, expanding the ski facilities and completing the nearby 6896-yard Trickle Creek golf course.
Finished poking around in the Museum on the upper floor of the Kimberley Public Library which was completed on the north-west corner of the Platzl in 1981, aficionados of mining technology and history will want to walk westerly up Gerry Sorensen Way15 a 100 metres or so to the tourist reception centre. After examining the Jeffrey mine mules, and the little Goodman engine which wore themselves out dragging ore from of the Sullivans stopes, one might perhaps displace a few kids, shoe-horn himself into a train of tiny open coaches hauled by one of the Bavarian City Mining Railways two 1972 Swedish IGA four-wheeled diesels and enjoy the seven mile trip over three-foot gauge trackage that has wound up through the Mark Creek valley past the few remaining 3900-foot level buildings to the base of the ski hill since 1984. More of the Museums displays are located at the end of the Line.
Not all things of interest to the historian are located at the displays or in the Museum. If one noses around a bit, photos of nasty Old Kimberley hiding behind the false facades of the Platzl can be captured. Nearby, on Deer Park Avenue, the ancient Canadian Hotel is an example of the frame-built firetraps in which folks used to risk their lives for a night repose a century ago. U cant stay there, but U can likely buy someone a beer and maybe get them to embroider upon the story of the great Mark Creek Store robbery on July 1st, 1939, when thieves infiltrated themselves into the emporium and, when the fireworks celebrating Dominion Day provided suitable cover, detonated a vial of nitro-glycerine in close enough proximity to the big, old safe that it obligingly popped open its door and allowed the malefactors to scoop the negotiable contents. Police are still pursuing the perps.
Leaving Kimberley north-bound
It is, of course, down hill from Kimberley to anyplace in the Rocky Mountain Trench. The City is located high on the edge of the Trench and, having passed under the trestle bridge that has carried the High Line over the highway since 1949, the 95A affords some spectacular views over this grand graben as it glides down 30 kilometres past secondary industries, llama ranches and a cozy motel or two to the upper Kootenay River at Ta Ta Creek and Wasa. For the first several miles the highway generally follows the route of the McGinty Trail, diverging from it where it crosses Matherformerly, CherryCreek, leaving the Trail to wander on down on the right-hand side of the Creek to the Kootenay, North Star Landing and the still-born town of Delgardno. No where along the highway does casual observation reveal any vestiges of the northern spur of Otis Staples St. Mary and Cherry Creek Railway which until 1927 used to run its logging Shays miles and miles up into the forests of the Mathers valley.
From its intersection with the 95A, highway 93/95 cruises easily down the Trench 24 kilometres to historic Fort Steele.