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Phoenix bank blueprint nets $200

Latest in a weekly look at items of local interest selling on eBay.

Several interesting items from Greenwood and the nearby ghost town of Phoenix have popped up lately, some fetching significant sums.

A set of blueprints for the Eastern Townships Bank at Phoenix, from around 1900, sold for the lone bid of $200 US. The floor plan shows the bank was two stories high, with 15-foot ceilings, and had a vault in the back corner. The architect isn’t named.

The bank, founded in 1859 in southeast Quebec, was among Canada’s oldest financial institutions. By 1900 it was starting to expand to Western Canada and granted a $500,000 line of credit to the Granby Consolidated Co., the major mining and smelting operator at Grand Forks and Phoenix.

According to the Phoenix Pioneer of January 6, 1900, “Contractor David Mutchsler ... arrived yesterday and has begun work on the building to be occupied by the Eastern Townships Bank. It will probably be ready in two weeks.”

However, the bank, on First Street, near Old Ironsides Avenue, didn’t open until mid-June, partly because a large burglar-proof safe hadn’t arrived. William Spier was the first manager.

The bank was involved in an embarrassing incident in 1906 when the BC Provincial Police discovered a Greenwood police constable had acted “as agent for the Eastern Townships Bank at Grand Forks, in the renting and collection of rents of houses of prostitution in Phoenix.”

According to Charleen P. Smith in her article Boomtown Brothels in the Kootenays, 1895-1905, the officer made $161 for his services and also bought a property from the bank himself. He was asked to resign.

In 1912, the Eastern Townships Bank merged with the Canadian Bank of Commerce. When Phoenix ceased to exist, the bank’s clock was taken to the Grand Forks branch, where it sat in the basement until decades later when Alan Clapp asked if the library could have it.

Betty Kohn wrote in a history of the library: “They had to contact their head office and word came back that we could have it if we attached a suitable plaque.”

The clock and plaque are still there.

• The same Peachland seller also auctioned off a four-page contract between the Sargeant and Greenleaf Safe Co. and Greenwood branch of the Bank of Commerce for a time lock. It was from 1910 and went for $103.50 US.

• A colour lithographed postcard of the Granby operation at Phoenix sold for $46 US along with two original photos of the smelter at either Greenwood or Boundary Falls.

This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on August 16.

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