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Year in review: Anniversaries celebrated in 2013

The SS Nasookin at its launch in Nelson on April 30, 1913. - Courtesy Touchstones Nelson
The SS Nasookin at its launch in Nelson on April 30, 1913.
— image credit: Courtesy Touchstones Nelson

Five local institutions marked their centennials this year while two others celebrated only slightly lesser anniversaries.

1) SS Nasookin: The largest and grandest ship to sail Kootenay Lake was launched in April 1913 as the CPR prepared for rising tourist traffic — but the First World War derailed those plans. The Nasookin was converted into a ferry in 1931 and ran between Fraser’s Landing and Gray Creek until it was retired and sold in 1947. The pilothouse and ladies observation deck were later towed to the North Shore where today they’re part of a unique home.

2) Nelson’s fire hall: Without a doubt, the city’s fire hall is the oldest one still functioning in BC, built in 1913 (the photo of the building at left, courtesy Nelson Fire & Rescue, is the earliest known).

City engineer G.C. Mackay designed it in Italiante Villa style and contractor John Burns and Son built it for $17,973 (about $367,000 today).

It could accommodate the chief and ten firefighters on the ground floor plus two wagons and five horses.

The hall’s 100th birthday was marked in several ways, including a community barbecue and a meeting of provincial chiefs.

3) Gray Creek Store: Its nicknames include the Woodstove and Fireplace Capital of the Kootenays and the Most Interesting Store You’ve Ever Seen.

The two-storey emporium at Gray Creek began life in 1913 as a much more modest affair established by Arthur Lymbery, who later added a post office, gas pump, and auto camp.

His son Tom (seen at left next to the old store) inherited the business and built a new store complete with hardware, grocery, and clothing departments. It remains in the family at 100.

4) Capitol Theatre: Nelson’s art deco theatre marked its belated 75th anniversary (it opened in 1927) as well as the 25th anniversary of its restoration.

The most poignant part was the return of the visionary who helped rescue the building from oblivion. Patrick Saintsbury left Nelson in 1985 before the job was done (the photo at left, courtesy Touchstones Nelson/Nelson Daily News collection shows the state things were in at the time), and never saw a performance in the Capitol until this spring’s anniversary gala.

To cap the year, the theatre’s exterior received a paint job.

5) Hipperson’s Hardware: The family-owned business turned 90 this year. Present owner Randy Horswill’s great grandfather Bill Hipperson started the store in 1923 and built the current Baker Street location in 1937.

He passed the torch to his son-in-law Jack Horswill on the promise that he would keep the name. Jack in turn sold the business to son Mike, who turned it over to Randy (pictured at left centre, with Hipperson’s manager John McArthur and building centre manager Bob Marsh), who started the building centre on MacDonald Drive. A fifth generation may yet take over.

6) Nelson Rotary: This year marked the 100th anniversary of Rotary in BC.

The Rotary Club of Nelson — otherwise known as the noon club — chartered in 1922 and the Rotary Club of Nelson Daybreak, chartered in 1993 joined in Rotary Week in BC by hosting an open house.

From 18 charter members over 90 years ago, membership grew to 91 by 1972, then fell to around 50 by the early 1980s. It has since rebounded to more than 100 between the two clubs.

7) Annable Block: In 1913, former Nelson mayor John E. Annable completed the brick commercial block now home to Ward Street Place, the Stepping Stones emergency shelter, and six commercial units.

In time for the centennial, the Nelson CARES Society completed fire safety improvements, the first phase in a major overhaul. They received a large donation from Isabelle Ramsay (pictured at left), whose father Howard Dawson used to own the building.

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