Helen Choquette

Year in review: Anniversaries we marked in 2014

The local IODE and Argenta post office turned 100. Eric and Greta Smith marked their 70th wedding anniversary. The Silver King campus is 50.

1) IODE Kokanee Chapter: The Nelson branch of this women’s charity was organized in September 1914. In the century since, it has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local and national causes. Between 1988 and 2010, it donated over $100,000 to the Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation, including $5,000 for the new CT scanner.

Since 1946, most of the funds have been generated through a volunteer-run thrift shop, but at other times the IODE (that’s Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire) also operated a tea room on Baker Street, put on fashion shows and dances, and held countless raffles.

2) Argenta post office: To mark the centennial of this north Kootenay Lake community’s mail service, three sets of commemorative stamps were unveiled at a celebration in October.

Anyone who ever lived there was asked to submit images that represented the community, and then a vote was held for the top three.

The favorites were a watercolor painting of the Argenta wharf by Phyllis Margolin, a hyper-realistic photo of Mount Willett by John Hawkins, and a photo of the road into Argenta by Charles Valentine.

3) The First World War: The first Kootenay contingent left Nelson in August 1914 to fight in the war to end all wars. The 100th anniversary was marked in part by the launch of a new book by Sylvia Crooks, Names on a Cenotaph: Kootenay Lake Men in World War I, which took a closer look at the local men who died on European battlefields.

Her starting point was the 280 names on the Nelson cenotaph as well as memorials at Procter, Kaslo, and Boswell. “It’s a sad book, but important to remember these people — not just to pay tribute to the names but to the men themselves,” she says.

4) Empress of Ireland: On May 29, 1914, this ocean liner collided with another ship in the St. Lawrence River and sank, taking more than 1,000 lives — Canada’s worst maritime disaster. Among the survivors were eight-year-old Florence Barbour and her rescuer Robert Crellin, both of Silverton.

Florence’s father was killed in an accident a year earlier, while her mother and sister perished in the shipwreck. She badly wanted to be adopted by Crellin, whom she called Uncle Bob, and later to be buried next to him in New Denver, but neither of her wishes came true. She was raised in England and only returned to Silverton once.

5) Eric and Greta Smith: This Nelson couple, formerly of Longbeach, marked their 70th wedding anniversary on March 23.

They met on a blind date in England, while Eric was serving in the air force during World War II, and married in a small ceremony a year later. Greta later came to Canada on a ship full of war brides. “They have a practical, positive outlook on life,” daughter Daphne says.

Asked the secret to their marriage’s success, Greta laughed: “Sheer determination. We never had any problems. We still get along all right.”

6) Vogue Photographic: In 1954, Helmuth and Alice Mayrhofer bought a photographic studio on Ward Street in Nelson from Bill and Isabelle Ramsay.

Although it later moved to Baker Street, it has been in the family ever since, now operated by second-youngest son Michael, who started in the business when he was 12, and his wife Gabi.

Many other studios have come and gone in the time the Mayrhofers have been synonymous with Vogue. Michael chalks their success up to diversification — forever adapting to changing times and technology.

7) Silver King campus: Selkirk College’s Rosemont complex opened in 1964 as the BC Vocational School, with a vision of expanding training opportunities in Nelson and beyond. It became part of Selkirk in 1975.

During the last 50 years, the trades have remained the mainstay, but many other programs have been based out of the 35-acre campus, including nursing, ski resort operations, hairdressing, cooking, and more.

“It’s incredible to think about how students have enhanced their lives through education on that campus over the last 50 years,” said dean Kate Pelletier.

8) The Langham: Forty years ago, the society that turned this Kaslo landmark into a cultural hub was born.

The anniversary was celebrated at a gala celebration on the Thanksgiving weekend that reunited many of its founders. An exhibit detailed its transformation from a derelict rooming house into the gallery, theatre, museum, and studio space that thrives today.

But it was the Langham’s use during World War II as an interment centre for Japanese Canadians that led a panel of judges to name it one of BC’s best buildings in a contest sponsored by the Architecture Foundation of BC. The Star is in the midst of a series probing its early history.

9) Mountain Baby: Judy Banfield marvels at the beginnings of her downtown Nelson store 20 years ago. “My first business plan was like a fiction novel. It was such a fantasy, so outlandish,” she recalls.

But Banfield’s clear vision of a store that would serve parents and children

made up for her lack of business experience. The shop has expanded several times. Hitting the two-decade milestone was a shock: “I thought ‘Wow, that’s a long time. That’s a lot of my life I’ve been doing this.”

10) Class of ’54: The Nelson High School grad class of 1954 — the second to last to graduate from the old school on Latimer Street — has met every five years for weekend-long reunions in Nelson since 1974.

This year, about one-third of the class attended their 60-year reunion from across Canada and Washington state. A 65th reunion is planned for 2019.

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