Looking back at the past century

Colleen Palumbo takes readers on a journey back in time in Golden.

Well, here we are firmly into 2012. I had a look through the index for the Golden Star to discover that lots of interesting things happened here in 1912. I will work my way through some of them but the one that I will share with you this week is the building of the first all concrete building in Golden, B.C.

Concrete hadn’t been widely used in the area before that time for a couple of different reasons. We had lots of timber being the first and the second was the cost of getting the cement to Golden.

In 1892, C.W. Field started Field’s Drug Store in Golden, B.C. and then decided that he wanted to go back to Toronto to study medicine so he put his drug store up for sale in 1901. John Andrew Buckham bought that drug store from Mr. Field. J.A. became a well-known citizen in Golden. John and his brother George Buckham, as well as other siblings were born at the Ankrum Farm in Carlton County, Ontario. When George was just seven years old he, he was walking barefoot and got a cut on his foot. Blood poisoning soon set in and after several operations it was determined that the only way to save his life was to amputate his leg, which they did, at the hip. This meant that for the rest of his life he walked with a single crutch and that many jobs were outside his ability, so when his brother John encouraged him to become a pharmacist it seemed like the right move.

George graduated from the Ontario College of Pharmacy in 1906 and before he could head to Golden to join his brother he contacted scarlet fever and spent some time recuperating with his Aunt Jessie.

By the time George arrived in Golden, John had made the decision to expand the pharmacy business and opened a store in Field, BC. That same year he added an addition on to the front of his store. This addition was on the street side of the building and brought the building out flush with the street.

George operated the store in Field, BC until 1911 when he went back to Almonte, Ontario and married Jean MacFarlane. This was the same year that the Drug Store in Golden burned down. Determined not to have that happen again John and George decided to build the new store out of concrete. They probably had no way of knowing that this would mean the store would be standing in Golden 100 years later.

George brought his bride back to Golden and took over the new store. One of the first problems that the brothers encountered with the new concrete building was that it smelled funny, not awful, just a different smell than anyone was used to! Even the dogs were affected and would cross the street to lift their legs on the side of the building. The enterprising brothers installed a couple of copper plates. One plate on the building, and one on the sidewalk. They hooked the plates up to a battery and when they saw the dogs lift their legs they threw the switch. The slightest bit of moisture gave the dog a shock and it wasn’t long before the local dogs had learned their lesson and stopped.

Over the years there were many changes to the business. When the jewellery store went out of business the pharmacy sold jewellery. It also sold stationary for a time as well as liquor. Of course you had to purchase liquor with a prescription.

Recently it has been brought to my attention that the old safe from the J.A. Buckham drug store is stored safely away in a nearby store. It’s a fabulous huge double door safe where they would have stored he drugs for the store.

The massive forest fire of 1926, pushed Golden through the most difficult financial times it has ever faced and George Buckham made the decision to move his family to Duncan, B.C. John sold the pharmacy in Golden in 1931.

Today you can still stop in to the old store, which is home today to Bacchus Books. Check out its unique character, its truly a Golden landmark!


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