The Chamber of Mines in Nelson

COLUMN: Mining, location were key to growth

In 1887, when the Hall brothers discovered a rich mineral deposit on Toad Mountain, Nelson began to grow.

On Saturday, March 22, I attended the Chamber of Mines of Eastern British Columbia’s annual banquet as the City of Nelson’s representative.

The Chamber of Mines began operating in Nelson 90 years ago. You can visit their office at 215 Hall Street to see the most amazing rock collection anywhere.

It includes rock specimens from all over the world plus those specifically from the Kootenays.

In addition they have ore samples from each local mine. Every year the Chamber hosts school classes to view their displays and hold an annual course designed for people wishing to become prospectors.

In 1887, when the Hall brothers discovered a rich mineral deposit on Toad Mountain, Nelson began to grow. The mine development caused an influx of miners, in search of mineral wealth.

Following the miners were merchants, suppliers, teamsters, hoteliers, tradesmen and professionals to serve the needs of the miners.

The Silver King Mine on Toad Mountain that the Hall brothers constructed was sold by them for over $1 million to a London Consortium in 1891.

It then became known as the Hall Mining and Smelting Company which had the most up-to-date mining machinery that existed. In 1885, two years before Nelson was incorporated, they had built a smelter in the Rosemont area.

The smelter was connected to the mine on Toad Mountain by a four and a half mile long tramway which is still evident on the mountain side. I would like to thank all the miners from the 1880s to the present day for Nelson’s beginning.

If Nelson had only depended on mining to develop it would not have become the city that is now here. Nelson grew and prospered due to our location which made it a supply and transportation centre.

With the completion of the rail link to Spokane, Nelson was designated as a warehousing port and customs outpost and in 1895 as a port of entry.

By 1899 there were 29 large wholesale warehouses in Nelson. The city’s importance was further increased when in 1900 Canadian Pacific Rail made Nelson its Regional Divisional Centre.

Nelson has always relied on development to become the city that now exists. Current plans for an eight-unit building on the former Kootenay Forest Products site will help Nelson prosper.

This development’s stage one was approved at the council meeting on Monday, March 24.

The Nelson tax base is increased when development occurs. Last year the increase in taxes collected due to construction in 2013 was an additional $85,000 in revenue for the city.

This new revenue helped keep our tax rate increase to just over one per cent. Planned development in Nelson is essential to maintaining our city. If development stops and we start to coast we can only coast one way and that is downhill.

We need to ensure that Nelson remains a vibrant exciting place to live work and raise a family.


— Bob Adams is a Nelson City Councillor. He shares this space with his colleagues around the table.

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