COLUMN: Nelson in 1917 — a rental crisis and alcohol’s last day

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

Greg Scott brings us excerpts from the Nelson Daily News, September 2017

September 6, 1917

Propaganda by the food controller to bring about the consumption of less white bread is resulting in Nelson in some increase in the public demand for brown bread, local bakers stated. There has been no heavy increase, but households which formerly used only white bread are beginning to take brown bread, said one baker.

Another said he had noticed little difference. Another baker mentioned that the Canadian Pacific Railway was now using a greater portion of brown bread than in the past.

Use of brown bread is being advocated for the reason that more of the wheat contents is used than in white bread, hence a given amount of wheat will produce more brown than white.

September 11, 1917

Demand for residences in Nelson has never been as great as at the present time, according to statements by local firms engaged in the rental business. It was stated that practically every house in the city that is in good condition has been rented and that there was no sign of a diminution of the demand.

“I have never seen anything like it in the past 10 years,” said one Nelson broker, “People seem to be coming to here from all over the country. Some are coming for the winter only, but many appear to be moving here as permanent residents.

“For some time there has been difficulty in finding furnished houses for those who desired them, but the situation now is that very few unfurnished houses in good condition are available.”

September 24, 1917

As soon as prohibition goes into effect alterations involving an outlay of $6,000 will be made to the Hume Hotel bar and rotunda in the process of fitting up a 40-table grill, which will seat over 150 patrons, and a confectionery and refreshment stand.

A soda fountain, costing $1,800, will be among the improvements installed. At present building operations are proceeding on a plaza at the back of the bar, which will be used as a refreshment verandah in the summer.

Plans call for the extending of the side of the building flush to the pavement from the bar door to the side door of the rotunda. The office will be shifted toward the front of the lobby in order to make way for the extension of the grill room to the end of the present office desk. Entrance from grill to the kitchen will be had through a door cut at the back of the grill.

The decorative color scheme of the grill will be rose and old gold, probably. It is the intension of the management to place an orchestra in the grill and arrangements may be made for dancing.

September 24, 1917

Instructions to begin immediately the medical examination of all bachelors and widowers without children between and including the ages of 20 and 34 years who present themselves were received yesterday by the Nelson Medical Board.

Formal call for men of the first class has not been made, but all those eligible are being advised to undergo medical examination immediately. Upon examination they will each be given a record of their physical condition, which will show whether they are eligible for active military service or not.

If they are eligible they can then, if they so desire, make application for exemption. Those who are not eligible for any branch of the service, because of physical unfitness will immediately receive a certificate of exemption

September 29, 1917

Today is the last day upon which alcoholic beverages can be sold in British Columbia. The prohibition law becomes effective Monday and after the bars and wholesale establishments have closed at 10 o’clock tonight British Columbians will have to import any liquor they require for beverage purposes from outside the province.

The last day finds Nelson liquor establishments very nearly cleaned out of all staple “hard stuff.” Rye whiskey except at the bars became practically unobtainable two days ago and the supply of Scotch on hand was meager.

Most of the hotels still have a few bottles of whiskey left to supply the demands of the last day, but by tonight there will be very little in the way of the stronger staple liquors to be obtained.

Beer is still plentiful – too plentiful for the hotels, which in some cases fear they will be left with some on hand at ten o’clock tonight.