Envelope with two 1935 Howser postmarks went for a song on eBay last month.

Rare postmarks highlight the week in Kootenaiana

This week’s column features postmarks from Howser, Poplar Creek, and Willow Point, and postcards from Nakusp, Ymir, and Pilot Bay.



Short takes on items of local interest selling on eBay lately.

An envelope bearing 1911 postmarks from the long-closed Lardeau Valley post offices in Poplar Creek and Howser fetched $34 Cdn. It was mailed from the Royal Bank in Nelson to Henry Hinks of Howser.

The old Howser townsite was flooded out in the 1960s by construction of the Duncan dam. The community still exists, but the post office is long gone.

Poplar Creek’s hey day as a mining town was brief, but it managed to keep its post office from 1903-54.

Another envelope sent by registered mail from Howser to England in 1935 sold last month for just $3 Cdn, while a 1939 Poplar postmark netted $14.50 Cdn.

• A postcard from France bearing a 1913 postmark from the Kootenay Lake settlement of Willow Point sold for $34 Cdn.

It was addressed to a Mrs. West — Willow Point was formerly known as West’s Landing after Charles W. West, who moved there in 1901 and was postmaster from 1905-14. A.L.R. Cross succeeded him, but the office closed the following year.

Two other examples of this scarce cancel have sold before: the first, postmarked 1907, went for $20.50 US in 2004. The other, mailed in 1913, sold for $62 in 2006.

• A tinted postcard of Smelter Bay on Kootenay Lake, showing one of the old smoke stacks from the Pilot Bay smelter of the 1890s, sold for $26 US.

The reverse is stamped “Original hydrochrome by Dick Spurway.”

In addition to producing postcards, Spurway bequeathed $42,000 to St. Saviour’s Anglican Church upon his death in 1983 and $94,000 to the City of Nelson for the purchase and upkeep of festive decorations.

• A promotional 1938 postcard for the Yankee Girl gold mine of Ymir sold for $27 Cdn. It featured a picture of the mill, a description of the property and boasted of a new strike “presenting attractive speculative-investment possibilities.”

The Yankee girl proved to be the largest producer in the area, operating from 1935 to 1942. Its tailings pond, adjacent to Wildhorse Creek and the Salmo River, has seen remediation work in recent years.

• A gorgeous ca. 1920s postcard of the Nakusp waterfront, showing the shipyard and long-vanished Grand Hotel sold for $84 US.

It was the town’s first hotel, originally known as the Nakusp House and then the Madden Hotel. Nothing else was built on its site after it burned in 1925.

This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on December 13.

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