The front page of the Nelson Daily News, Christmas 1919.

GREG SCOTT: Kootenay Lake’s West Arm freezes over

From the files of the Nelson Daily News

Dateline Dec. 11, 1919

With Nelson’s water consumption at least doubled and probably trebled during the present cold snap through faucets left running in order to avoid frozen pipes, and with the bare and frozen earth giving up no water to Cottonwood creek, whose flow is greatly diminished, the level of the water in the city reservoir fell four feet in the last 48 hours.

It only needs one week of this to empty the reservoir and to leave the city without water either for domestic uses or for fighting fires. Consequently the city is advertising the fact of this water shortage, and giving warning that all persons found wasting water will have their services cut off.

Dateline Dec. 12, 1919

A windless night and a low temperature conspired to present to the city’s gaze yesterday a broad sheet of ice across the lake, from the city wharf extending in a diagonal direction up the arm. The CPR boats passed easily through the ice sheet on their trips yesterday, but it is the general opinion that if a gale does not soon break up the ice and send it down the river traffic will soon have to proceed on the winter schedule.

It is possible that the ferry, which is now having difficulty in operating and goes out of service, will affect the residents and ranchers across the lake including mail delivery. Heroic efforts are underway to keep the channel free for the ferry with considerable blasting of the ice in the channel as well as dealing with the difficulty of ice forming under the ferry which prevents a landing being made.

One of the difficulties encountered is the sweeping of broken ice into the channel by the larger CPR steamers, which are engaged in ice breaking operations on the West Arm. This ice, inches thick, piles up and freezes making it difficult to combat.

Dateline Dec. 25, 1919

Nelson and District will probably today enjoy a unique Christmas in that for the first time in the memory of the majority of the old timers there will apparently be no snow on the ground. The unusually severe weather of two weeks ago, when the thermometer registered away below the zero mark, was superseded by spring-like conditions and accompanying Chinook winds which made quick work of the beautiful blanket of snow which has fallen.

The climax to the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and preparation came yesterday and it proved probably the busiest day throughout the city of the Christmas shopping season. From early in the morning until the last store closed at night there were crowds of eager men, women and children thronging the streets and places of business making their 11th hour purchases.

In addition to the many busy individual and family shoppers there were the officers and members of the various committees of organizations bent on their grateful mission of arranging the Christmas hampers for those persons and families who, through circumstances, are unable to provide for themselves. Today, the spirit of “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men” will prevail throughout the city. Last night every arrangement had been completed for the provision of good cheer at the hospitals, jails and other institutions.

Dateline Dec. 27, 1919

Nelson’s business section was visited by its second fire within as many weeks when the McCune block, the frame building at the northwest corner of Baker and Stanley Streets, was gutted by the flames.

The ground floor was occupied by J.P. Morgan, second hand dealer and the second floor was untenanted. The cause of the fire is unknown and is somewhat a mystery, since it is said that no one had entered the premises on business bent between closing time on Christmas Eve and the time the conflagration broke out. The building was one of the oldest in the city’s business district and was recently acquired by A.W. McCune, mine owner and promoter of Salt Lake City.

On Dec. 15 the single story block of small stores usually called the Douglas block, on the north side of Baker Street, between the Hebden block and the Masonic building was gutted. The frame building is now worthless, but the fire department, which arrived on the jump, prevented the adjoining blocks from catching and quickly drowned out the blaze. There was no great drain on the water supply, and the shortage did not affect the fire fighting.

Built in 1891 or 1892 as a mercantile building by Tom Ward, saloon man and real estate agent, this little block was the second oldest building in Nelson, being only exceeded in age by the Nelson House, which was built in 1890.

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