1919: Prince of Wales, governor general visit Nelson

Greg Scott on events in Nelson a century ago

Edward, Prince of Wales at Lakeside Park in Nelson in 1919. Photo: Touchstones Nelson/Notre Dame University Collection 639

By Greg Scott

Dateline Oct. 2, 1919

It was Nelson’s opportunity yesterday to entertain His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and right royal, sincere and affectionate was the welcome which was tendered in the queen city of the Kootenays. It was a glorious day for Nelson, a day which will long be remembered and though the visit of the future ruler of the British Empire was short, it was sufficiently long to allow the royal visitor to win himself a place deep and lasting in the hearts of the citizens of the district.

The affable straight-forward, democratic manner of the Prince, his keen interest in affairs, his natural adaptability to the typical Canadian surroundings and the keenness which he showed to come in contact with the citizens and take an interest in their welfare were the feature characteristics of His Royal Highness that made themselves felt to the public at the reception yesterday.

From the moment that he first appeared before the large crowd after alighting from his train any trace of stiff formality in the welcome disappeared through the sheer force of the royal personality. It was a case of the entertainers being the entertained. (Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, became King Edward VIII in 1936 and abdicated soon after “for the woman I love.”)

Dateline Oct. 4, 1919

Finishing touches are now being put on the handsome granite and concrete building of J.A. McDonald’s jam factory and fruit warehouse. The addition to the original factory which was of frame construction will have the effect of doubling the original floor space. The new building is of two stories and both floors, which are 120 feet long by 50 feet wide, will be used for storage, packing and shipping rooms.

All local materials have been used in the structure, the Kootenay Granite and Monumental Works having the contract for the stone work of the foundation and walls, white local lumber was supplied by T.W. Waters, who has the contract for the carpentry work. At present six steam heated copper jacket kettles, having a capacity of 30,000 pounds a day, handle the fruit in boiling, and these will be added to from time to time as the increasing volume demands.

Mr. McDonald gave it as his opinion that $1 million annually could be brought into this district through the proper expansion of the jam making industry. ($1 million in 1919 equals approximately $14 million today)

Dateline Oct. 15, 1919

Lofty in tone, happy in phrase, kindly in the sentiments expressed, the address of His Excellency, Lord Devonshire, Governor General of Canada, delivered at the public banquet tendered to him at the Strathcona Hotel last evening, was voted one of the happier features of the vice-regal visit.

The dining room at the Strathcona with its very attractive lighting effects, its floral decorations, and its artistic arrangements of the tables, was in keeping with the high quality of the menu and the perfect service provided by their hosts. In the spacious drawing room the Veterans Band was ensconced, furnishing an attractive musical program during the evening.

Dateline Oct. 15, 1919

To be held up by a cart load of hay while on route to the power plant at Bonnington Falls was among the varied experiences of His Excellency, the Duke of Devonshire, during his official visit to the city yesterday. The incident happened at one of the narrow points on the Granite Road.

The advance car of the party carrying the Duchess of Devonshire, Lady Dorothy Cavendish, and driven by H.P. Thomas, succeeded in passing the load of hay and Mr. Thomas warned the driver to make way for the Governor General, who with Mayor McDonald and Capt. Macmillan, his aide de camp, was riding in George Benwell’s car. However the load of hay and the vice regal car met at the inopportune spot and as a result the Duke and the Mayor were caused to alight. The incident caused a great deal of merriment to the other members of the party.

Dateline Oct. 27, 1919

Although Nelson’s first snowfall was recorded on Oct. 10, that barely whitened the ground, vanishing as it fell. Saturday evening very fine snow, borne on a south wind, began to sift down lightly, and when dawn came yesterday, the earth was mantled in white.

In places where the sun had a chance, the snow melted, but in sheltered areas, such as the south side of Baker Street, it held its own, providing much sport for the children, who were early out with sleds. A frosty evening following a crisp glaze covering the concrete sidewalks and on plank areas, the boots of pedestrians crunched the snow with a wintery sound.


The Prince of Wales visited Nelson in 1919. He went on to become king but abdicated the throne. Photo: Wikipedia

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