The Dumbells — a group of soldiers in drag — performed at the Nelson Opera House in 1920.

GREG SCOTT: Biff! Bing! Bang! Dumbells come to Nelson Opera House

What was making in news in Nelson a century ago

Dateline March 8, 1920

“While 50 per cent of the cost of scavenging was not met by receipts and became a charge on the funds of the city, in 1919, we will have a different system for 1920,” declared Mayor J.A. McDonald Saturday night.

“Whatever way of making receipts meet expenditures in that department is adopted, I will not stand for any part of the cost being taken out of the taxes,” the mayor declared. “The service must be paid for by the parties benefitting.”

To replace the rate of 25 cents per month, which ran the city into the hole last year, Mayor McDonald suggested 25 cents per can of garbage removed. In order to get garbage rates fixed and in force early, the mayor may call a special meeting of the city council for some night this week. (25 cents in 2019 would be approximately $2.56)

Dateline March 8, 1920

Carrying 27 members in their party, all of whom appeared on the stage, the famous Dumbells, the concert party of the 3rd Canadian Division, breezed in from the Crow Boat last night for their two-night engagement at the Nelson Opera House.

With every Paris gown in the trunks of the “lady” members of the party a creation, the premier overseas concert troupe, fresh from its European conquests, is somewhat differently outfitted from what was the case in its swaddling days behind Vimy Ridge, as related by some of the heroes last night.

Several members of the party are accompanied by their English brides. Upon their arrival in Canada, the Dumbells had given over 500 performances of their overseas review, Biff! Bing! Bang! and had royalty as audience in both Belgium and England.

Dateline March 10, 1920

Unusual high class and altogether artistically satisfactory was the entertainment put on by the Dumbells in their musical revue Biff! Bing! Bang! at the Opera House last night, repeating their success of the previous evening.

The performance was a scream from start to finish, and was enthusiastically received by the audience plentifully besprinkled with ex-soldiers who retained vivid memories, to judge by their comments and laughter, of the entertainment provided by the soldiers concert party of the 3rd Division in France, where so many of them made their first acquaintance with the Dumbells.

Friendly from the start, the enthusiasm waxed high as the show went on and justly so, for it is not often that a vaudeville entertainment of such a nature attains such a state of perfection as was apparent last night.

Not a seat was vacant when the performance started, and the recalls were numerous enough to satisfy the most temperamental of artists. The large number of performances which the company has given, both here and “over there” has made perfection in presentation possible.

Dateline March 22, 1920

Although only installed three years and at that time of its installation supposed to make liberal provision for the growth of years, the present switchboard of the Nelson exchange of the British Columbia Telephone Company, which dates only to the erection of the handsome brick exchange built in 1917, is already working at capacity, and the pressure on the existing sections is to be relieved by the addition of a fourth section, providing for 200 additional services.

There will also be an additional section for the toll or long distance switchboard, to take care of the growth in the toll service, due to the development of the district. The number of telephones in Nelson increased by 124 in 1919, and already the current year 24 more have been added. On March 1 the total number of services in the city was 856. Roughly, this is a growth of 40 per cent over the service as it existed when the exchange was built.

Dateline March 24, 1920

With pot and paint brush, or with wrench and oil can, in hand, city boating enthusiasts are busily overhauling their boats and launches, repairing caulking, or trying out the engine, and getting all in readiness for the day, not far distant, when their crafts will take the water for the first time this season, and today there will be an exodus of city men towards the lake shore to spend the weekly half holiday in fining up their boats.

Professional repairers predict this summer will see more people on the lake than ever before, and that though the automobile is making a good bid for favor over the larger and more expensive launches, a bigger demand than ever is found for the moderately priced launch.


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The Dumbells — a group of soldiers in drag — performed at the Nelson Opera House in 1920.

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