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Postcard recalls painful part of Edgewood’s past

Part of a series about Kootenay artifacts popping up on eBay.

A rare postcard showing the camp at Edgewood where Ukrainian Canadians and other Eastern Europeans were interned during World War I sold recently for the opening bid of $200 US.

The unmailed card, showing two rows of tents and bunkhouses — as well as a chicken-wire fence in the foreground — is a reminder a little-known bit of local history.

When the war began, the Canadian government implemented the War Measures Act and issued an order-in-council resulting in the internment of over 8,500 “enemy aliens,” more than half of whom were Ukrainian immigrants.

The Edgewood camp and work site operated from August 19, 1915 to September 23, 1916. Up to 200 men, many from the Crowsnest Pass, were housed in tarp-roofed bunkhouses and forced to build a wagon road through the Monashees to Vernon using hand tools through uncleared land.

The story is probably best told in Bohdan S. Kordan’s 2002 book Enemy Aliens, Prisoners of War: Internment in Canada during the Great War.

In 2009, a tri-lingual plaque was unveiled at the site of the Edgewood camp — today’s Donselaar Memorial Park — by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation, one in a series of monuments at former internment camps erected since 1994.

The postcard’s seller was in Peachland.

• A 5 x 7 photograph of Doukhobor leader Peter (Lordly) Verigin literally on his deathbed sold last month for $50 US.

Taken by Campbell Studio of Nelson, it showed a woman looking over Verigin’s body, surrounded by floral tributes, fruit, and what looks like an enormous loaf of bread.

Verigin was killed in 1924 in a train explosion at Farron, between Grand Forks and Castlegar, arguably West Kootenay’s greatest unsolved mystery.

The same seller, from Ontario, also put up for auction a 9 x 11 photo produced in 1925 by Coleman, Alta. photographer Thomas Gushul, showing portraits of Verigin as both a young and old man, as well as his son, Peter Verigin Jr., and former leader Lukeria Kalmykova.

It failed to sell for the opening bid $50, but has since been relisted for $200.

• A cute and colourful teapot showing the old Nelson post office — today’s Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History — sold for $23.50 Cdn.

It was made in Germany and probably dates to about 1910.

This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on August 9.

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