“Long Jim” McDonald at Fruit Fair circa 1910. Photo: Ian McDonald collection

Nelson in 1919: Stuntman aviator crashes in Kootenay Lake

Historian Greg Scott’s deep dive into the Nelson Daily News archives

Excerpts from the Nelson Daily News 100 years ago, curated by Greg Scott

Dateline September 1, 1919

Now that schools are about to reopen, the child is very much in our minds, and everything should be done to ensure its safety. Last school year was very much interrupted on account of influenza. That disease seems to be one over which we have very little control, but it is not so with other infectious diseases, which are more or less confined to certain areas, and can be controlled. It is a long time since there has been an epidemic of measles in town, and there are many children who have never had the disease. One case of this disease, not reported and isolated, is enough to spread it broadcast over the city and close our schools. If everyone would understand that all infectious diseases must be reported by both the doctor and the parents, a great deal of trouble and time would be saved. It is the same with wooping cough, scarlet fever, mumps, chicken pox, etc. – one case not isolated can infect the whole town. The two most fatal diseases for young children are measles and wooping cough. They cause a great many deaths, and the younger the child the more serious it is.

Dateline September 24, 1919

Nelson’s seventeenth annual fruit fair was ushered in yesterday under most auspicious circumstances. Glorious, sunshiny, Kootenay weather prevailed. A large and highly interested crowd gathered for the occasion and the arrival at about the hour of the opening ceremony of Lieut. G.K. Trim the aviator, who will entertain the public during the exhibition with his feats in the air, was a symbol of the progress of the district which was depicted in another way within the fair building itself. On entering the great main building, one finds the interior a blaze of light and color, due to the bunting and myriad of flags hanging from the ceiling, and in the lighting arrangements. Fruit of course is king, and holds the centre of the stage, dividing all the centre space with vegetables. The western half of the central section is devoted to fruit and the eastern half to vegetables, while the median line is occupied by the honey section. One of the largest mineral sections ever shown at the Nelson Fair takes up the principal space in the north east corner. Fair officials stated last night that they considered that the attendance yesterday was the best that had ever been seen on the first day of the fair.

Dateline September 26, 1919

Although Nelsonites and fair visitors waited patiently for a considerable time yesterday to catch a glimpse of the stunting aviator, Lieut. G.K. Trim and his plane they were doomed for a disappointment. Upon taking off for his flight the machine ran into a calm spot in the atmosphere with the result that there was not sufficient length of runway to allow him to rise and he landed about 75 feet out in the lake. As the undercarriage and lower part of the fuselage struck the water the machine upended and turned over and then fell back sticking in the mud at an angle of 75 degrees. The aviator, though badly shaken up for the time, was not submerged and loosened himself from his seat. Ropes were then secured by the crowd which had collected to see the airman rise and the machine, after considerable difficulties had been overcome, was pulled ashore. Due to the damage, Trim will be unable to make further flights and the machine will be shipped to the coast for repairs.

Dateline September 30, 1919

Nelson yesterday began to assume gala attire in honour of the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. A few hours under the supervision of Chief of Police T.H. Long and D. Guthrie, Chief of the Fire Department, and the colour effect on the city’s main thoroughfare had completely changed. From the C.P.R. station along Baker and Front Streets to the wharf, streamers of flags are being placed overhead, and each of the standards of the city’s lighting system is being handsomely decorated with young cedar trees which not only add greatly to the colour scheme, but give a bracing aroma which should prove welcome to the royal visitor. The civic decorations will be greatly added to today when the business men commence the work of preparing their premises. At the schools of Nelson and suburbs, the visit of the Prince tomorrow was the all-absorbing topic yesterday. The children are all keen on catching a glimpse of the Empire’s future ruler and it is expected the city will be represented by the largest single gathering of youngsters it has ever had.

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