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Souvenirs of the Rossland Winter Carnival

In honour of this weekend’s Rossland Winter Carnival, a look at collectibles associated with the long-running event.

In 1907, to mark the carnival’s tenth anniversary, the Rossland Miner issued a series of postcards depicting various events to entice visitors.

They were printed on heavy stock, raggedly cut and poorly lithographed, but they’re still interesting — especially the one bearing the caption: “A hockey match at Rossland, BC rink. The largest skating and curling rink under cover west of Winnipeg. Come to our Winter Carnival.”

Indeed, the photo shows an enormous ice surface, miles of bunting suspended from the ceiling and a crowd of thousands. Only problem: it was actually taken in the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal.

Other images in the set were similarly cribbed, with the possible exception of one titled “Ready for the Snowshoe Race,” showing three men with capital Rs on their chests, presumably for Rossland.

Another card shows some kids on a sled plummeting down a sheer drop. The caption reads: “A mile a minute on Rossland’s zip — 250 feet of a drop in 1,500 feet. Going some!”

A fourth example depicts a ski jumper flying over crowd of bowler-hatted men. The caption promotes the “Ski jump for Championship of America. American championship, 106 feet. Canadian championship, 84 feet, held in Rossland. First prize $150, second prize $50. Also a magnificent cup, offered by Eddie Sullivan and Arthur Seagram, for breaking Canadian record.”

A fifth card has someone with long skies and a long tasselled toque above the caption: “The great Norwegian-Canadian winter pastime SKI RACING.” A variant with several skiers reads: “Championship of Canada — Open to all amateurs — Ski Race.”

The cards were each spot coloured in pink, indigo, red, blue, or green. A similar set issued in 1908 had the same images and slogans, but at least one addition: a card showing a skier floating above ... well, are they people or shrubbery? It’s hard to tell.

The caption says: “Torgal Noren making his championship of Canada jump of 91 feet at Rossland’s tent winter carnival. Championship of Canada Jump for the Jeldness Cup.” (Olaus Jeldness was the man credited with bringing skiing to Rossland.)

The cards fetch up to $40 each at auction today.

• A 1902 envelope for the firm of Taylor and McQuarrie, advertising the fifth annual carnival sold in 2006 for $33 US. It promised $2,000 in prizes for “hockey, skating, ski races, cutter races, snowshoeing, dog races, and masquerade,” as well as “Single fare for the round trip on all railways.”

• A rare handbill for day one of the 1917 carnival hockey championship sold in 2001 for $99 US. It trumpeted three games: Anaconda (a Greenwood suburb) versus Spokane in senior men’s play, Trail versus Rossland in intermediate play, and Anaconda versus Rossland in the international championship semi-final.

Chuck Clark was advertised as judge of play and Nelson’s Harry Bishop as official referee. Bishop, a superb player himself, died in the 1924 train explosion that also claimed the life of Doukhobor leader Peter (Lordly) Verigin.

This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on January 24.

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