10 Facts – Atlin

Located in the Northwestern corner of British Columbia, on the shore of Atlin Lake, lies the town of Atlin.

The location of Atlin, way up in the top left corner of the map.

The location of Atlin, way up in the top left corner of the map.

As of 2004, the town was home to only 450 permanent residents.  However, despite having a small population, this town has some interesting historical facts so, without further ado, here are ten of them:

  1. The name Atlin comes from the Tlingit word Áa Tlein which means ‘big body of water’.

    I think the traditional name is fairly self-explanitory. Image from bcadayatatime.com

    I think the traditional name is fairly self-explanitory. Image from bcadayatatime.com

  2. The surrounding area has been used by inland Tlingit peoples for thousands of years and the town in currently home to the Taku River Tlingit First Nations.
  3. In 1898 the Atlin Gold Rush came to the Atlin Lake country and would prove to be one of the richest offshoots of the Klondike Gold Rush.

    An old image of one of the Atlin mining sties. Photo from hp.bccna.bc.ca.

    An old image of one of the Atlin mining sites. Photo from http://www.hp.bccna.bc.ca.

  4. As with many areas of British Columbia, the town was created as a direct result of this mining activity.
  5. During the 1920’s Atlin became a popular tourist destination for those who were seeking a more exotic, off the beaten track, vacation destination.

    Atlin, as it looked in 2012. Image from www-andrew-scott-ca.jpg

    Atlin, as it looked in 2012. Image from www-andrew-scott-ca.jpg

  6. At this time there was  no road to the settlement and so tourists were required to….travel up the Inside Passage along the B.C. Coast and the Alaska Panhandle then through a series of passes in Alaska finally followed by transportation through a series of lakes in Yukon and British Columbia….basically there would be a lot of ‘are we there yet’s’ happening.
  7. For the span of these ‘good years’ when mining activity and tourism were high, the town reached a peak population of roughly 10,000 people.

    Looking for gold? As of today, total gold found in the area amounts to approximately  $23,000,000. Photo from  www-therooster-ca.jpg

    Looking for gold? As of today, total gold found in the area amounts to approximately $23,000,000. Photo from www-therooster-ca.jpg

  8. During the time of the Great Depression, tourism levels fell into a steep decline and the White Pass and Yukon Route was shut down; effectively isolating the town from the rest of the province.
  9. Up until 1950, when the Atlin Road was built by the Canadian Army, the town was reached overland by way of two separate lake steamers with a two mile rail line connecting them.
  10. Today the town still sees most of its economic input from a combination of mining activities and tourism.

    The town in 2007. Photo from www.nativejournal.ca

    The town in 2007. Photo from http://www.nativejournal.ca


The Oldest Building in Kamloops: St Andrews on the Square

The oldest public building in Kamloops, St Andrews on the Square, was constructed in 1887 and has stood in place while the city itself has grown and developed around it.

The church peeking through the foliage.  Image from: standrewssquare.sampaguita.biz

The church peeking through the foliage. Image from: standrewssquare.sampaguita.biz

When it was first constructed in the late 1800s, in response to the growth of the city, the church was built on land that had been donated by the Canadian Pacific Railway.  The land which, at that time, had actually been located on the very outskirts of the town as it had existed at that time.  In addition to the gift of the land itself, the construction costs for building this structure were actually raised, in large part, by the CPR employees themselves.

Photo from truomega.ca

Photo from truomega.ca

The building served in its original function as a Presbyterian church until 1925 at which time the United Church of Canada was formed as a result of unification. It then continued in this function until 1942 when it was purchased by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (a Pentecostal Christian domination – the largest evangelical church in Canada) and renamed the Calvary Temple which I think might be one of my favorite building names of all time. During this period of ownership in the late 1950’s and 1960’s the St. Andrews building was the host of the largest Sunday School in Canada.

An old look at the building. Photo from www.historicplaces.ca st andrews.

An old look at the building. Photo from http://www.historicplaces.ca st andrews.

As a historic place, this building is also noteworthy for its association with the Reverend Phil Gaglardi (1913-1995) who was responsible for the leadership of this church during a period of time which included the 1945 restoration and the large addition to the south of the building that occurred in 1958.  Prior to his taking a position with the church, Reverend Gaglardi had been the provincial Minister of Highways and played a huge role in the expansion of the province’s road and ferry systems.

A picture of the statue of Revered Gaglardi

The statue of Revered Gaglardi located on the grounds of the church.

Purchased by the City of Kamloops in 1991 in order to prevent its demolition, St Andrews had been experiencing years of neglect which had led to the significant decline of the building.  However, since this purchase, the building has undergone significant restoration (with this work being completed in 1996) and is now managed by the Kamloops Heritage Society where it is frequently used for events which include weddings, concerts, and meetings.

Architecturally, this building is a prime example of a late Victorian Gothic Revival style which can be seen, predominantly, in the Gothic pointed-arch windows, the steeple, the corner buttresses, and the scalloped wooden roof ridge (as per the St Andrews page on http://www.historicplaces.ca).

A more modern look at St Andrews. Photo courtesy of www.atyourservicecatering.ca

A more modern look at St Andrews. Photo courtesy of http://www.atyourservicecatering.ca

Finally, St Andrews on the Square is important for being one of the surviving pieces of work of the architect Robert Henry Lee (1859-1935) who was also central to the organization of the town sites of Nicola, Merritt, and Princeton amongst a number of additional, individual, buildings.

The Hasting Mills Store: Vancouver’s Oldest Surviving Building

Described poetically or dramatically, depending on your personal level of cynicism, as ‘the place where Vancouver began’, the Old Hasting Mill Store is the oldest surviving building in Vancouver.  While it currently sits on Point Grey at the base of Alma Street, it was originally located, at the time of its construction in 1865, on the southern shore of Burrard Inlet.

Image from  searcharchives.vancouver.ca

Image from searcharchives.vancouver.ca

Built for a British captain, Edward Stamp, as the base for his ‘British Columbia and Vancouver Island Spar, Lumber and Sawmill Company’ – evidentially with a title that long and descriptive he also wanted to ensure that there would be no confusion regarding the function of his company – this wooden building stands two stories tall.

During the sixty years that the store stood at its initial location, located in the center of the developing city’s logging settlement, it served both its logical function as a supply store for various materials necessary to the logging industry as well as a more social function of a place for workers could gather and gossip.

Another historical photo of the site; this one from www.hastings-mill-museum.ca

Another historical photo of the site; this one from http://www.hastings-mill-museum.ca

From the time of its construction in the 1860s all the way through the 1920s, the settlement of the area around the Burrard Inlet was closely tied to the existence of the Sawmill.  The people in the area shopped at the store itself and their children as far away as Moodyville on the other side of the inlet attended the Hastings Mill School.  After a second general store was built in the area the original building was first delegated as a storage facility before becoming, in succession, the city’s first post office, library, and community centre.  When the fire of 1886 occurred, this building was one of the few to survive the flames and, as a result, took on yet another role in the community by acting as a hospital and morgue for the victims of this disaster.

A more modern look at the building with it's snazzy colours. Image from www.hastings-mill-museum.ca

A more modern look at the building with it’s snazzy colours. Image from http://www.hastings-mill-museum.ca

Up until the time of the First World War, the mill remained Vancouver’s largest industrial enterprise but by 1927 progress and developments in the field resulted in the mill being dismantled with parts of its equipment being distributed among smaller operations around the continent.

When the mill closed down, the building that had been the Hastings Mill Store was uprooted and moved by barge to its current location at the bottom of Alma Street where it became known as the Old Hastings Mill Store Museum.  Run from that time to this day by the Native Daughters of British Columbia, the museum is still in operation today and contains displays of artifacts belonging to Native American, pioneer, and immigrant groups.

The plaque which declares the building to be a city of Vancouver Heritage Building, Image from www.century21.ca

The plaque which declares the building to be a city of Vancouver Heritage Building, Image from http://www.century21.ca

10 Facts – Armstrong

Incorporated on March 31, 1913 the city of Armstrong, located in the North Okanagan, is known by many as the originating location of Armstrong cheese but it has many other interesting facts linked to its history:

Location of Armstrong, BC

  1. The city itself is located in the Spallumcheen Valley, the name of which comes from the Shuswap language and has a variety of very apt meanings including: ‘beautiful valley’, ‘flat meadow’, ‘meeting of the waters’, and ‘prairie-banked river’.
  2. This region had long been populated by the Okanagan people when the first fur traders arrived in the area in the 1800s.
  3. The city itself was named after E.C. Heaton Armstrong who was a London banker responsible for the finding of the Shuswap and Okanagan Railway.
  4. At the time of the completion of the railway, Armstrong consisted of a single box car which served as station and the home of the rail agent.  Welcome to Armstrong
  5. George Patchett built the first house in the city in 1891.
  6. The first mayor of the city was James M Wright who was elected in 1913.
  7. Traditional economic fields include logging, agriculture and grain farming, and ranching.
  8. As mentioned above, the city is known for the Armstrong cheese that shares its name; this cheese-making tradition is due in large part to the influence of Dutch immigrants who settled in the area after WWII.

    The Armstrong cheese 'Special Occasions Cheeses'; image from:  armstrongcheese.ca

    The Armstrong cheese ‘Special Occasions Cheeses’; image from: armstrongcheese.ca

  9. Another well-known aspect of the city is its Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede which has been an annual event since 1899.

    A historic shot of the Armstrong IPE. Image from www.castanet.ne

    A historic shot of the Armstrong IPE. Image from http://www.castanet.ne

  10. The last surviving member of the 1862 Cariboo Overlander Expedition, Augustus Schubert, died in Armstrong in 1946 at the age of 91.

The Bastion

The oldest structure in Nanaimo, on which construction was started in 1853 and completed in 1855, is the octagonal shaped Bastion. It is one of only two historical buildings with this shape in British Columbia (the other is Pachena Point Lighthouse) and the only original wooden bastion still standing in North America.

The Nanaimo Bastion; image from www2.viu.ca

The Nanaimo Bastion; image from www2.viu.ca

Built to defend the Hudson Bay Company’s coal mining operations in the region, this three story building is often referred to as Nanaimo’s premier landmark due to both its distinctive shape as well as its high visibility from both land and sea.

Over the years, the site has undergone several changes – both in location as well as in structural maintenance. The most outwardly obvious of these changes is that the location of the building was changes twice for a multitude of reasons which has included preservation purposes, politics, and land deals; once in 1891 and again in 1979.  The original location of the site is actually now the parking lot of the Dorchester Hotel.  With the problematic conditions of the Pacific Northwest Coast rearing their heads again, the entire Bastion was renovated in the summer of 2010 with rotting beams being replaced and additional stabilizing beams being installed.

The building itself was designated as a local heritage site on December 12, 1985 and it has the distinction of being the first site in British Columbia to be preserved under the threat of demolition.  Today it is under the supervision of the Nanaimo District Museum which has continued on the tradition of firing the canon at noon every day during the summer.

Interesting Additional Facts:

  • the original structure was built without the use of nails
  • it is the oldest surviving HBC building of its type
  • during the early years of the settlement at Nanaimo, the bastion acted as an icon of civilization in the midst of the wilderness for the European population arriving in the area
  • the building represents the province’s first foray into heritage preservation
  • the Bastion is open to visitors 7 days a week from the May long weekend to Labour Day
The Nanaimo Bastion; photo from searcharchives.vancouver.ca

The Nanaimo Bastion; photo from searcharchives.vancouver.ca

**On an interesting side note, the oldest octagon shaped building in the world is the Tower of the Winds located in Athens which dates to 300 BC**