Thursday, January 31, 2013
Friday, December 21, 2012
Revelstoke Museum & Archives is proud to announce the publication of our new book, “First Tracks – the history of skiing in Revelstoke.” The book explores this fascinating history going back to the early 1890s, when the newspapers reported people coming in to town on “Norwegian Snowshoes,” as skis were then called. Snowshoes were the more usual mode of travel in the snow, and the skis created a bit of a sensation in town. The newspaper Kootenay Mail described the skis in their November 28, 1891issue: “The snowshoes are simply thin slats of wood about three inches in width and ten feet in length, and turned up in front like the bows of a canoe. The feet are fastened to these slats by leather straps in the centre, leaving about five feet clear fore and aft, which is not lifted clear of the snow, but glides along the surface. A pole about six feet in length is carried, either for steering purposes or as a help in propulsion.” The book explores how skiing became a recreational pastime in the 1890s and early 1900s, then discusses the formation of the competitive Revelstoke Ski Club in 1914. This club, with many members from the local Scandinavian population, put Revelstoke on the map in terms of the sport of skiing, with both ski racing and ski jumping being the most popular forms of the sport. Revelstoke became known world wide as a ski jumping destination right up until 1975. Every aspect of skiing in Revelstoke is explored in the book, right up to the present day. Revelstoke Mountain Resort, cat powder skiing, heliskiing, backcountry skiing and Nordic skiing are all discussed in the book. Fabulous photographs illustrate the book throughout. The book was a wonderful way for the museum to share this exciting aspect of our history. We were able to add to our knowledge on this subject through many interviews and donations of photographs and artifacts. We created a new ski hsitory exhibit at the museum to further explore the passion that people here have for skiing. The picture on the front cover of the book shows six Revelstoke men and women skiing at the summit of Mount Revelstoke in February of 1941 during a film shoot. It is just one of dozens of great photographs that tell this history. For more information on the book, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Friday, November 9, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Sunday, June 3, 2012
It’s always fascinating to discover where a bit of research can take you. I did a Google search today on Nobel Peace Prize winners and saw a surname that I recognized. Robert Gascoyne-Cecil was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937 for his work with the League of Nations. Several years ago, my husband Ken English researched all of the 100+ men from Revelstoke who died during World War I. The name Randle William Gascoyne-Cecil came up during his research. Although Randle William Gascoyne-Cecil’s name does not appear on the local cenotaph, he was mentioned in the Revelstoke newspapers as one of the first men who applied for military service after war was declared on August 3, 1914. His occupation at the time was listed as car repair assistant with the Canadian Pacific Railway. His name was given as Randle Cecil in the local newspapers. He was one of 25 men from Revelstoke accepted for service with the Second Contingent of Canadian Volunteers and he signed his attestation papers in Victoria on November 11, 1914. At the time of enlistment, he stated that he was married, and was 25 years of age. He had served with the local branch of the Rocky Mountain Rangers militia for two and a half months. He had also served with the Oxford University Officers Training Corp, with the Cavalry Squadron. He stated that he was born in London, England on November 28, 1889. He died on December 1, 1917 while serving as a Lieutenant with the Royal Horse Artillery, Territorial Force. The Canadian Virtual War Memorial maintained by Veterans’ Affairs indicates that he was the son of Right Rev. Lord William Gascoyne-Cecil and the husband of Elizabeth Claire Gascoyne-Cecil. Until today, that was all that we knew about him. The coincidence of finding the name Gascoyne-Cecil among the list of Nobel Peace Prize recipients spurred us on to do some further digging. We discovered that Randle William’s father William and uncle Robert (the Peace Prize winner) were both the sons of Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, and three-time Prime Minister of England. William, Randle’s father, was the Bishop of Exeter. So why was Randle William, obviously very wealthy and well-connected, living in Revelstoke and working as a railway car repair assistant? We then found an article in the New York Times from July of 1915, telling of the divorce of Randle and his first wife, Dorothy Janaway. The article indicated that Randle had been sent down from Oxford in 1908 for “a breach of discipline” after throwing rocks through the windows of Balliol College. The article went on to say that Randle had appeared as an actor in Gaiety plays and had travelled with actor George Grossmith to America. With a bit more research, we discovered that Randle married Dorothy Janaway in June of 1914 and divorced her in July of 1915. Did his wife come with him to Revelstoke? There is no indication whether she did or not. By the time of his divorce, he was back in England, and preparing for active service. In June of 1916, he married Elizabeth Claire Turner. Their daughter Anne Mary Gascoyne-Cecil was born on July 29, 1918, seven months after her father’s death. Anne gained the rank of 2nd Officer in the service of the Women's Royal Naval Service during the Second World War. She married Lieutenant Commander David Bryce Wilson in 1945 and came with him to his home in Ontario, where they had five children. Randle William Gascoyne Cecil and two of his brothers died in active service in World War I. One other brother was wounded but survived. The story so far, still just bits and pieces, seems to indicate an aristocratic English youth sowing his wild oats, and then heeding the call to serve his country when war was declared. It is a story that was surely repeated throughout the British Empire during World War I. The mystery remains though – what brought a grandson of a British Prime Minister to Revelstoke? Why was he working as a common laborer? What was the story of his first marriage? Revelstoke had its share of people with secrets. We can now add Randle William Gascoyne-Cecil to that list.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
March 1, 2012 marks the 113th anniversary of Revelstoke’s incorporation as a city. The community was already 14 years old, having been established in 1885 during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The long delay in incorporation was largely a result of the dispute between the original townsite owner, Farwell and the CPR, and the inability of the provincial and federal governments to agree on riverbank protection. The community was renamed Revelstoke in June of 1886, as a result of a request by the Canadian Pacific Railway to the Post Office Department. It was perhaps a measure of the C.P.R.’s political influence that the request was granted with little or no discussion. The name honoured Edward Baring, First Baron Revelstoke, and head of the Baring Bank of England, which had saved the CPR from bankruptcy and had allowed for the completion of the railway. The City of Revelstoke was honoured to host Edward Baring’s great-grandson, the Sixth Baron Revelstoke, James Baring, at our city’s homecoming in 2009 and we were saddened to hear of James’ death this February. James Baring’s oldest son Alexander Baring will become the Seventh Baron Revelstoke.
An editorial in the Kootenay Star newspaper of February 16, 1892 explained “How the Station was Built a Mile and a Half away.” The articles stated that one Canadian Pacific Railway official was prepared to purchase 80 acres of land from A.S. Farwell for the station and yards. The editorial states: “Had this been carried out, Revelstoke would have been one compact town, instead of being cut in two by a mile and a half of lonely, burnt-up timber…Mr. Van Horne (the company Vice-President) would have nothing to do with Farwell or his offer…and thus Revelstoke remains in two parts – the old and the new.”
Once the station was established near the present location, the Farwell townsite had a distinct disadvantage. Businesses had to pay extra shipping charges to transport their goods from the station to their Front Street locations. Government Road was built to provide a more direct route from the Station to Front Street. It angled from Victoria and Rokeby to Third Street between Pearson and Ford. The last vestige of Government Road can be seen in the angled street between the Alpine Shopping Mall and The Bargain Store and Chalet Bakery building.
The Canadian Pacific Railway began selling lots in their new townsite in the early 1890s and by 1899, many businesses had relocated to Revelstoke Station. The townsite dispute had finally been settled, and residents could get clear title to their land. The local Board of Trade was pushing for incorporation and this finally happened on March 1, 1899.
This photograph of Mackenzie Avenue in 1898 shows the early development of this part of town. The spire of the Catholic Church can be seen at the corner of First Street. It was moved to Fifth Street in 1899. There were still several homes in the first two blocks of Mackenzie, but within two years, they had all been moved to other locations. In the background, Mount Revelstoke is completely burnt off.