Nelson in 1917: New telephones!

Historian Greg Scott’s latest column explores headlines from a century ago

By Greg Scott

May 17, 1917

Tuesday will make history in Nelson. It will mark the opening of the most important and pretentious assembly of mining experts, geologists, prospectors and miners ever held in this province or in any other part of Canada and should do more to advertise the wonderful mineral resources of Nelson and the potential possibilities of this magnificently endowed district than any other event in the history of the Kootenay country. Leading mining men representing millions of dollars of invested capital in various parts of Canada and the United States will be here to listen to the papers that will be delivered by some of the foremost authorities on the continent.

Three days of the convention should result in the dissemination of invaluable information to and the elucidation of practical methods and the presenting of the newest ideas in the development of a pioneer industry, and one that represents the basic wealth of this province.

May 21, 1917

One minute after the cut-over of the new system had been completed at the new building of the British Columbia Telephone Company at midnight on Saturday, Mayor J.E. Annable made the first call and passed complements to J.R. Hunter, president of Nelson Board of Trade, upon the city having attained the metropolitan class in the matter of telephones.

The cut-over was the culmination of many improvements made in this city by the telephone company.

Cable and open wires had been taken off Baker Street and run in the alleys, extensions were made in outlying sections, and a handsome building erected of pressed red brick faced with granite.

Altogether the company has expended about $50,000 and has given Nelson a telephone system second to none.

Today there are 687 telephone subscribers in Nelson and increases have been made almost every month for the past year and one half.

May 24, 1917

Empire day was loyally observed by pupils of the Nelson public and high and St. Joseph’s schools, at which patriotic exercises of an inspiring character were held and an appropriate program given by talented contributors.

The Nelson branch of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire realized about $285 from the sale of flags during the day and the entertainment given under the auspices of the Starland Theatre at night.

Judge Forin addressed the pupils of the central and high schools at the central school assembly hall. Lieut. W.J. Sturgeon, who was wounded at Mons, gave a talk on trench warfare to the pupils of St. Joseph’s and at the Fairview school Principal W.J. Eades and his staff of teachers gave talks to the children on patriotic topics.

The I.O.D.E. entertainment at the Starland at night was an excellent one. “The Traveling Salesman,” a clever comedy picture, was shown, and little Miss Miller, “the Kootenay songbird,” and Miss Malone were enthusiastically received in songs and dances respectively.

May 29, 1917

A stirring story of the exploits of the 54th Kootenay battalion on the battlefields of France was related last night at a largely attended meeting at the Y.M.C.A. under the auspices of the Nelson Women’s Institute, by Capt. J.H. Hamilton, Revelstoke, medical officer of the famous western unit. Dr. Hamilton, who was formerly resident physician at the Kootenay Lake General Hospital, was accidentally injured in France when he was struck by a motor lorry and has been permanently invalided home.

The speaker gave the movements of the 54th since leaving Nelson, told of the life in the trenches and the hardships the men had to face, described how rations were given the men and referred to the work of artillery and air services.

He impressed upon his audience the urgent need for home knit socks for men at the front, for wear during the coming fall and winter.

He paid a warm tribute to the gallantry of the late Lt. Col Kemball and other officers. A hearty vote of thanks was tendered the speaker for his excellent address.