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Reading about the past from a collection of period writings

Colleen Palumbo learns about life in old Golden through old manuscripts, manuals and booklets.
This is the earliest known picture of the area where the town of Golden is presently situated. The area photographed would be the north part of present day Golden.

It’s fascinating for me to look back at old manuscripts, manuals and booklets, that describe life in and around Golden in the time before I was born.

This excerpt comes from the British Columbia Directory from 1887.

“The timber in the Upper Kootenay Valley is remarkably fine, particularly the tamarack (larch), and yellow pine species.

Both of these kinds will soon come into demand down the Columbia River, where, owning to an abrupt change in the climate from a dry to a wet zone, neither of these trees are found.

The Upper Kootenay Valley can be reached from Golden City, on the CPR, by the steamer Duchess, which makes the trip one day (105 miles).

From the valley, several low passes (Vermillion, Crow’s Nest and Kootenay Passes), lead across the North West Territory over good trails and with the best feed.

In future, these routes will be the cattle trails by which the eastern cities can be gained at no expense for shipping.

Likewise, can the Northern Pacific Railway be reached over easy country so that the settlers will have the choice of two routes for shipping produce and stock, the best cure for high freight rates.

A Canadian company (the Eastern Columbia Railway Company) are, at date of writing, applying for a charter to build a railway between Golden City and the ‘Canal Flat,” at the head of the Upper Kootenay Valley and wrote home: “The advantages nature seems to have bestowed in this spot will render its geographical position very important at some future day and when emigration shall be penetrated, it will prove a very important point. The climate is delightful, the extremes of heat and cold are seldom known. The hand of man would transform it into a terrestrial paradise.”

A few more years and the old traveller’s prophesy will have become true.

The Columbia Valley comprises the great bend of the Columbia River around the Selkirks, which is undoubtedly the most majestic group of mountains in North America.

The valley, following the Columbia, is 440 miles ling; but only the upper most portions are available for agricultural or stock-raising purposes, the remainder being a densely timbered and rocky country of much future importance, however, on account of its mineral riches.

The three chief places in the valley are Golden City, at the mouth of the Kicking Horse River after descending from the Rocky Mountains. It will be of some importance as the distributing point for the Kootenay Valleys.

Seventeen miles farther down the Columbia is Donald, a larger place on account of its being the end of the division, and it contains roundhouse and workshops of the CPR.

Finally, Farwell or Revelstoke, as the railway company calls it, which is the distributing point for the Big Bend mines where quartz mining (gold) has a bright future. Farwell, too, is the point from which the Kootenay and Athabaska Railway Co. propose to build their branch line to tap the galena mines on Kootenay Lake.

The splendid white pine, cedar and fir timber along the CPR route through the Kootenai district cannot fail to bring about an early development and the establishment of large sawmills to supply the treeless northwest.”