Turning Back the Pages: Canada promised opportunity for British men and women

The following memories were captured by Robert H. Mann for the 1982 edition of Golden Memories.

It was in June of 1912 that I first saw the town of Golden. At the age of 21, the voyage across the Atlantic from Scotland was a lifetime thrill for me, never again to be duplicated. Equally fascinating was the long journey from Montreal through the forest and prairies and beside the lakes. At last we reached the bastions of the Rocky Mountains where every mile led through a fairy tale world of snowy peaks, rustling streams and deep canyons.

Our little party of four arrived in Golden, which, to us, was a magical town. Our party included Mrs. Annie Beattie; her daughter, Elizabeth (Beta), my future wife, Bessie Wyeth, the maid, and myself. We stepped off the train to be greeted by the enveloping arms of Mr. Alexander Beattie, Senior, and his two strapping sons, George and Alex. A year before, they had emigrated from Aberdeen, Scotland.

Mr. Beattie became manager of P. Burns and Co. in Golden. I had attended Gordon’s College in Aberdeen with George. I had played rugby against the Grammar School where Alex Junior was on the team. I had not come to Canada to settle down at any particular job or profession. Like many other men from Britain, I had been captivated by the publicity originating from the federal and provincial governments of Canada.

This told of the wonderful opportunities for young men and women in almost any capacity, which included the prospect of a free homestead of 160 acres.

No one, in 1912, foresaw that in two years, Britain and Canada would be in the midst of the First World War. Most of the young men from the British Isles wanted the adventure of exploring this vast new territory of Canada. Worries about work would come later.

In 1912, plenty of work was being offered. As I remember, Golden in 1912, had a fluctuating population which varied from 500 to 1,000. The people were employed in the lumber mill, logging camps, or in the mines in the Columbia Valley. There were stores and hotels which catered to this population and to the numerous travellers.

Most of the settlers in the Columbia Valley were young men of British extraction. They were remittance men whose families sent them enough money to fulfill their desires to become “ranchers.” All had their own horses for work and for driving to town and visiting neighbouring farms. Most of these men volunteered for overseas service in 1914. Few returned to their deserted homesteads.

There were three churches: the Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican. Each had about the same number of members. The only minister I can remember is Rev. McRae of the Presbyterian Church. He had been a missionary in India. Rev. McRae was instrumental in starting and keeping alive the Golden Literacy and Debating Society. He persuaded me to take over the old historic church in Field during the absence of the regular minister. At one time this was Ralph Connor’s church (the celebrated western writer). My church activities included a boxing club, a dancing and dramatic society, etc. These proved to be popular and increased membership in our church to a respectable quota.

When the hectic search for gold along the Fraser River and in the Caribou died down, men turned to our natural resources, of farming, lumbering, and mining to exploit the visible and enduring wealth of the land.

After the First World War, which drained Canada of so many vigorous young men, the scene changed. The Kootenay Central Railway had been completed. The gas engine had replaced the horse-drawn vehicle and there was a general mechanization of industry. Some of the romance vanished with the old ways and efficiency took the place of adventure. This did apply to the history of Golden and its surroundings.

Just Posted

Early morning fire destroys building on 14th Street S.

Firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze for more than six hours

Golden residents invited to discuss Green New Deal

Golden is just one of 150 towns that are hosting a Green… Continue reading

EarlyAct Club delivery acts of kindness to seniors in Golden

Golden’s EarlyAct Club is a group of young elementary-school aged children who… Continue reading

Stetski hosts pop up office in Golden

Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski hosted a pop up office in Golden on… Continue reading

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Kootenay man arrested and charged in 2015 murder

Nathaniel Jessup 32 of Creston has been charged with the second-degree murder of Katherine McAdam and offering an indignity to a body.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

GALLERY: First responders in Fernie return baby owl to its nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Most Read