Spot Lights in History of Golden

Construction of the Big Bend Highway. They are clearing the area around the rocks that will need to be blasted for the road to be built.
BC Archives photo F-09031

February 17, 1933 – The Golden Star

Spot Lights in History of Golden

One of the advance little towns that sprang into existence when the Canadian Pacific Railway commenced to push its rails into British Columbia was the town of Golden.

That it has held its own during the intervening years due to its position at the gateway between two majestic walls which enclose the picturesque Upper Columbia valley … walls that have been molded by Nature in her mad moods and later painted and decorated profusely by her in quiet moments – the rugged Rocky Mountains on one side, the serrated Selkirks on the other.

It was one of that railway’s civil engineers, Hon. F.W. Aylmer, who after passing through that shadow bound cleft of rocks known as Kicking Horse Pass, was thrilled by the sight of a level stretch of land flooded with dazzling sunlight. Empty coal oil tins used as chimneys on a few log cabins in sight threw back shafts of light while white tents appeared as bright spots in between the dark green spruce trees that crept down from the foothills to the level land. These were the temporary homes of the pick and shovel men, who with pack horses, had come through The Pass by the narrow mountain trail which would be abandoned later for the steel rails laid at a lower level. Then and there he named the hamlet Golden, which name it will ever rightly hold because of its point of vantage whereby it received the maximum amount of golden sunlight.

There is much interesting history attached to this place. In its early days it was a typical western mining town with numerous saloons whose frequenters would occasionally, after a night of gambling and drinking, “shoot up the town: in the early hours, sometimes making it necessary to call in the services of a coroner. Yet mixed with what might appear to the casual eye as the dross of humanity, was much crude gold. Beloved and respected by even the roughest and most callous was the pioneer missionary affectionately called by all – Father Pat – who like his Master was the friend of every man irrespective of creed, class or calling.

He stood by neither altar or pulpit, in the early days, waiting for a congregation. He went where he could find one – to a bar room. Here, in white robes, he held the sacred services and gave forth his message fearlessly to a standing congregation. Then, out he would go to catch a locomotive or help work a hand car on the rails back to his home town some twenty miles west – maybe in sub-zero weather or peering through blinding sleet or pelting rain.

Now, the ancient landmark whose barroom was often blessed by these impromptu ministrations, is being demolished to make room for a modern structure. Yet, not far distant, a little Anglican church whose beautiful interior is softened by mellowed light from stained glass windows, stands as a silent memorial to the efforts of a man who had felt the urge to “be about my Father’s business” ere any sacred edifice had been erected in the district. It is about four months since a huge marble monolith was placed in St. Peter’s churchyard, Windermere, to the memory of the Rev. Henry Irwin (Father Pat) who built the first church in the Rockies and who passed away in 1902 at the early age of forty-two.

Working along the lines of the brotherhood of man, quietly and unostentatiously since 1900, Mountain Lodge No. 11 A.F. & A.M. came into the limelight the later part of 1932.

The occasion was the laying of the corner stone of a Masonic Temple. This impressive ceremony was performed by M.W. Bro J.E. Beck, grand master A.F. & A.M. of British Columbia. He was assisted by R.W. Bro. W.J. McRae of the local lodge as acting deputy grand master. The veteran grand secretary of the grand lodge, M>W. Bro. W.A. De Wolf-Smith, was present as was M.W. Bro. F.J. Burd, Vancouver, who filled the position of acting grand treasurer. The duties of acting grand senior and junior wardens were performed by R.W. Bro. J.C. Pitts, Windermere, one of the first to be initiated in the early days, was acting grand chaplain, while R.W. Bro. W.H. Cleland, Invermere, was acting grand pursuivant. Other accorded offices for the occasion were R.W. Bros. Walter Sadler, Field, acting grand sword bearer and Harry Hughes, Vancouver, grand tyler. R.W. Bros. Ed Stoddart, Windermere, and G. Watson, Revelstoke were acting grand deacons.

Before the end of the year the find modern edifice was completed and occupied by Mountain Lodge and to their honor it may be added that it is free from debt.

There are other indications of commercial activity in the town which is looking forward to the completion of the last link of the trans-Canada highway – the Golden-Revelstoke motor road which will follow the windings of the Columbia River from these points around “The Big Bend” to the north.

Plans are completed for an open air swimming pool, a site for an eighteen-hole golf course has been approved and a new movie theatre is mooted. Among the new buildings erected lately is an exchange office for the B.C. Telephone Co. It stands beside a commercial hotel of modern style while in the same block one of the most artistic and best equipped tourist hotels in the mountains caters to that class of the travelling public that demands the highest service. One block distant a score of modern tourist cabins well equipped for day or night use invite another class of wayfarer.

Already many thousands of motors have passed through this town, which stands at the great natural gateway between two mountain ranges, by way of the Banff-Windermere, the Golden Yoho, the Kootenay-Columbia and the Kicking Horse Trail highways all of which are linked together to form a circuitous route through the mountains and the valley.