10 Facts – Cascade City

The town of Cascade City was constructed as a Canadian Pacific Railway boom town located in the Boundary Country which was alternatively known as the ‘Gateway to the Boundary Country’ due to its close proximity to the Canada-U.S. border in the West Kootenay region.

The original site of the town of Cascade City.

The original site of the town of Cascade City.

On this day, in 1899, a fire swept through the area, destroying a large percentage of the town and so here are ten facts about Cascade City:

  1. It was founded in 1896 and named after the nearby Cascade Falls which occurred on the Kettle River.
  2. The property in this area was originally owned by Aaron Chandler, an American from North Dakota who, on seeing financial possibility in the area, began to divide the land and sell it off to businessmen.

    The tents used by inhabitants in the early years of the town.

    The tents used by inhabitants in the early years of the town. Image from Wikipedia.

  3. The original industries of the town were mining and the construction of rail in the region but the prosperity of the town was further elevated in 1897 when the Cascade Water and Power Company formed an electric dam on the Kettle River in 1897; this supplied electricity to Grand Forks, Phoenix, and Greenwood.
  4. In its early days, the town only had two buildings which were a general store and a restaurant while its inhabitants stayed in tents.
  5. However, by 1898, there were 15 hotels along with numerous brothels which were worked by women with remarkable names including ‘Scrap Iron Minnie’ and ‘Rough Lock Nell’.

    The Cascade Hotel; one of many that sprung up in the town. Image from wikipedia.

    The Cascade Hotel; one of many that sprung up in the town. Image from Wikipedia.

  6. It wasn’t until the Doon Gang Tobacco Robbery in 1897, when the gang broke into the general store and made off with 150 pounds of tobacco, that the need for a police force and a jail became evident. In this case, the shop book-keeper had to make the arrest himself and detain the leader in a local carpenter’s home.
  7. August 12, 1899; the CPR arrived in the town from the Kettle River Bridge to a town-wide celebration complete with $25 worth of refreshments for the railway laborours.
  8. Unfortunately, only 6 weeks after the arrival of the CPR, a fire swept through the town burning down 6 hotels and several other structures in under an hour.  At this time, the town had no fire department and so a firebreak was created by using dynamite on some of the threatened buildings.
  9. This bad luck continued in 1901 when the rebuilding of the town was disrupted by the outbreak of a second fire.
  10. After this, all but 75 inhabitants of the town moved on to other locations and the town quickly faded into obscurity.

    The town of Cascade at the height of its occupation before it was destroyed by fires. Image from Wikipedia.

    The town of Cascade at the height of its occupation before it was destroyed by fires. Image from Wikipedia.

The town , surprisingly, continued in its reduced capacity for a number of years where it was used as a customs port where, in 1920, it was inhabited by somewhere around 150 residents and consisted of one public building in the form of a store.  Today, much of the original town-site is covered by the Christina Lake Gold Club’s course and the only remaining memento of the town itself is the cemetery located on the opposite bank of the river.


10 Facts – 100 Mile House

Established in the 1800’s as a rest stop and supply station for miners heading to the Fraser Canyon gold rush, 100 Mile House obtained its name due to its distance from the town of Lillooet which was considered to be mile zero by the gold rushers. Here are ten additional facts about the town:


Map of the region. Image from cbc.ca

Map of the region. Image from cbc.ca

  1. It was originally named ‘Bridge Creek House’ after the creek which runs through the area.
  2. Its name changed to 100 Mile House during the Cariboo Gold rush during which time (in 1862) a roadhouse was built in the area to mark 100 miles up the Old Cariboo Road.

    100 Mile House during the Gold Rush. Image from bcheritage.ca

    100 Mile House during the Gold Rush. Image from bcheritage.ca

  3. During its original function at the time of the gold rush, it was really just a collection of buildings owned by a man named Thomas Miller rather than an actual town.
  4. In the 1900’s logging was introduced to the area which provided a more stable industry, allowing the town to begin taking form.
  5. Shortly after this, during the 1930’s, Lord Martin Cecil left England and arrived in 100 Mile House to manage the estate there which was owned by his father, the 5th Marquees of  Exter.

    Lord Martin in the 1930's. Image from www.bridgecreek.ca

    Lord Martin in the 1930’s. Image from http://www.bridgecreek.ca

  6. This estate was actually a short distance outside of the town itself and had its own train stop on the Pacific Great Eastern Railway which ran through the area.
  7. Even at this time, the ‘town’ as it was consisted of only 5 public buildings; a road house, a post office, a general store, a telegraph office, and a power plant with a total population of 12 people
  8. Reducing this even further, the original road house burnt down in 1937.
  9. Over time ranches were established on the plateau near the town center.
  10. One of these ranches, the Gang Ranch, is one of the largest ranches in the world.

Today, 100 Mile House has a population of approximately 2,000 people and is a retail and service center for the Southern Cariboo area.  In addition to the services this town provides to the surrounding area, it is also a popular tourist destination with people who enjoy the outdoors with swimming, fishing, horseback riding, bird watching skiing, and golfing all being available in the surrounding area.

The welcome sign today. Image from www.campscout.com

The welcome sign today. Image from http://www.campscout.com

For more information check out the official website of 100 Mile House or the Destination B.C. site for the town.

Ghost Towns: The Historical Sites with the Creepiest Title

Ghost Town. The very title given to these places lends itself to horror movies and things that go bump in the night.  The imagination tends to picture a creepy desolate city where stupid teenagers decide go one night with handheld cameras in order to disprove the local legend of some sort of horrific monster which still inhabits the ruins preying on unsuspecting travelers. They are, of course, horribly and gruesomely murdered. Now it is true that occasionally these abandoned places have reached this state due to a catastrophic event and (since I’m the type of person who gets completely freaked out by horror movies, you wont ever catch me wandering through one of them at night) I have absolutely no evidence that they aren’t inhabited by serial killers or haunted by the vengeful spirits of people who met grisly ends.

However, the actual truth about most ghost towns tend to lean towards the far less dramatic end of the spectrum.  Essentially, a ghost town is defined as an abandoned village, town, or city which usually contains some form of substantial visible remains.  There are even some locations which have obtained the title of being a ghost town even though they are still inhabited; in these situations the population has to have been decreased by a significant amount over a short period of time.  And, while the abandonment is typically related to a natural or human disaster such as flooding, government actions, ‘uncontrolled lawlessness’ (as per Wikipedia-that’s my favorite cause), war, and/or nuclear disaster it is actual most often the failure of economic support due to these causes that actually destroys the ability for people to continue inhabiting the site.

Bringing this all back around to the focus of this blog, British Columbia itself has between 150-200 ghost towns within the boarders of the province and the larger of these will be covered in post of their very own in the future.  It is not likely to be a surprise that the majority of these towns in this region of North America were originally mining towns, followed by a number with direct ties to the Canadian Pacific Railway, towns that were sustained on the logging and forestry industries, religious colonies, and finally centers of the fur trade.

Now, while the economic activities which originally sustained these towns, both in B.C. as well as their counterparts around the rest of the country and the world, have ended these locations still play an important role today. Firstly, these locations often preserve attributes, architecture, and even specific items which are specific to the period in which the town was abandoned  and which have remained in their unaltered state.  The second possibility for these towns, which is directly related to the previous comment, is that they have the potential to become tourist attractions.  Finally, very occasionally when this second occurrence happens, the town generates enough of a new economy to support residents and a revival can be seen years after the location was given up for good by its original inhabitants.

Gunkanjima, Japan Image from http://www.oddee.com/item_96462.aspx

Gunkanjima, Japan
Image from http://www.oddee.com/item_96462.aspx

Kolmanskop, Nambia Image from http://www.oddee.com/item_96462.aspx

Kolmanskop, Nambia
Image from http://www.oddee.com/item_96462.aspx

Sanzhi, Taiwan Image from http://www.oddee.com/item_96462.aspx

Sanzhi, Taiwan
Image from http://www.oddee.com/item_96462.aspx

Craco, Italy Image by Andrea Tommasi

Craco, Italy
Image by Andrea Tommasi

Kolmannskuppe, Namibia Image by Harald Supfle

Kolmannskuppe, Namibia
Image by Harald Supfle

A Swimming Pool in Pripyat, Ukraine Image by Timm Suess

A Swimming Pool in Pripyat, Ukraine
Image by Timm Suess

The Annexation Debate: How British Columbia Nearly Became a US State

In the final post of this blog’s breakdown of the general major sections of British Columbia’s history the transition of B.C from a colony of Britain to a province of the confederation of Canada was covered.  However, in 1867, there were actually three potential futures for the province:

  1. Remain a British colony
  2. Become a part of the confederation of Canada
  3. To be annexed and become part of the United States

In Britain, by many, it was actually hoped that the North American colonies would leave the British Empire including:

  • Admiral Joseph Denman who, when speaking to the Admiralty, stated that B.C. was undeserving of Royal Navy Protection
  • The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Granville, who said that he hoped that North America “would propose to be independent and annex themselves”
  • Finally, The Times which stated that “British Columbia is a long way off. . . . With the exception of a limited official class it receives few immigrants from England, and a large proportion of its inhabitants consist of citizens of the United States who have entered it from the south. Suppose that the colonists met together and came to the conclusion that every natural motive of contiguity, similarity of interests, and facility of administration induced them to think it more convenient to slip into the Union than into the Dominion. . . . We all know that we should not attempt to withstand them.”

In addition to this, there were several reasons why becoming an official part of the US made sense for the province of British Columbia:

  • Due to the gold rushes in the province, there were numerous American citizens who had made their way into BC and had settled in the area
  • With the purchase of Alaska made by the US in 1867, B.C. was now surrounded by American states along both the southern and northern boarders
  • Economically, British Columbia was essentially a satellite of the American west and the entire Pacific Northwest of North Vancouver, San Francisco with American currency in wide circulation throughout the province

Up until the purchase of Alaska, the British had, for the most part, been indifferent to the future of this colony.  However, at this point they began to pay attention and an increased focus was placed on the region as a base for imperial trade in the Pacific as well as the perceived need for a Royal Navy base in the area.  With the prevalent opinion being that British Columbia joining the confederation of Canada was preferable to British interests than an annexation to the Unites States and the majority of the British-born inhabitants of the province seeing confederacy as the better chance for maintaining ties to their native country, the general public opinion began to swing in this direction.  Opposing this move, however, was the Legislative Council of British Columbia which was made up almost entirely of annexationists including then governor of the province, Frederick Seymour.  It wasn’t until his death, when the confederation supporting Anthony Musgrave succeeded him to the position of governor, that the confederates received enough support to over-rule those in favour of annexation.