Nelson in 1917: Fairview considers joining the city, mascot bear escapes

Greg Scott brings us excerpts from the Nelson Daily News in July 1917

Greg Scott brings us excerpts from the Nelson Daily News in July, 1917.

August 2, 1917

The loss by fire early yesterday morning on the Svoboda building and contents is placed at $1,000 by the owner, John Svoboda.

The second story of the building, which consists of a basement and two stories, was destroyed with practically all its contents with the exception of personal effects of seven rooms.

There were 33 rooms in this storey. None of the seven roomers received any injuries. The flames did practically no damage to the lower storey.

Considerable loss was sustained through water, however, in Svoboda’s grocery at Hall and Baker Streets, the bulk of the goods, with the exception of canned goods, were ruined by water. Volunteer workers saved the greater part of the stock in the premises occupied in the lower story on Hall Street by “Silver King Mike.”

August 3, 1917

With Sikh religious burial rites the remains of Dulca Singh, whose body was found among some logs near Deschamps Mill, were cremated by his fellow countrymen at the cemetery yesterday.

The casket containing the body was placed in the centre of two cords of slabs and match applied, the flames creating an intense heat and forcing numerous white spectators to stand a considerable distance from the funeral pyre.

Once the body had been consumed by the flames and the burning pile reduced to ashes, the ashes were covered over with earth by the mourners.

The body of Dulca Singh is that of the second Sikh to be cremated in this district.

The ceremony was observed on the remains of a Sikh killed by a train at South Slocan in 1906. (Ed note: – in that instance the pyre was on Silver King Road and some of the ashes were sealed in a can and mailed to his village in India.)

August 9, 1917

Oodles of excitement and a spectacular chase by a representative section of the able bodied male population of Nelson were provided yesterday afternoon when Koot, the black bear mascot of the 54th Battalion, escaped from her pen on Vernon Street, taking advantage of the fact that the door had been left open for a moment.

The first thing the fugitive bruin did was amble out of the lane of the lane at the rear of the Grand Central Hotel, walk up to the door of the Provincial Court House, and give that building a casual once over, after which she strolled over to the Vernon Street drinking fountain and leisurely took a few braces of municipal elixir.

By this time a knot of highly amused spectators had gathered in front of the Hume Hotel watching the movements of the temporarily free Koot. The fireworks started as efforts were made to capture the wily mascot.

After much maneuvering the bear was finally cornered and after an unsuccessful attempt to use laudanum loaded candy to effect capture, the excited mascot was lassoed in about five different places, trussed, tied to a ladder and carried triumphantly to her open air jail.

She lived up to the best traditions of the 54th and fought gamely to the last. If there’s any such thing as a military medal for bears it’s coming to Koot.

August 13, 1917

The wild animals are trying to make a jungle out of Nelson. Last night a bristly porcupine went Koots one better and took a midnight ramble on Baker Street. Coming from some unknown section the nervy quill dispenser trotted down the street and ran upstairs to the office of P. Burns & Co.

He was chased back to the sidewalk by Sergeant Alex Stewart and ran into a nearby doorway. There he remained until a large box was placed over him by Night Constable Whightman. It is planned to release the porcupine from his wooden cell this morning, but the opinion was expressed that the official releaser would have to be conscripted.

August 29, 1917

The report of the committee setting forth the advantages to be obtained by Fairview by joining the City of Nelson was adopted at a largely attended meeting at the Hume School last night.

It was enumerated in detail on the blackboard the benefits which would accrue from the union in the way of sewage, fire protection, insurance reduction, street lighting, free porch lights, police protection, and better schools.

It was submitted that the taxation methods of the City of Nelson induce home building and substantial expansion because the taxation on improvements is nominal.

The meeting was adjourned for a week and the City Council and the City Clerk of Nelson will be asked to attend and discuss the proposed union with the meeting. (Ed Note: Fairview finally joined Nelson in 1923.)