An alpine village of no more than 4000 people, located in the Monashee mountain range of eastern British Columbia, Rossland dates from 1895. That was when gold miners arrived from all over the world, pushing out Salish Indians whose summer hunting and berry-picking the surrounding forest had been almost as long as it had been the habitat of deer, bears, and cougars.
Relying on oral and written histories, the authors trace Rossland’s evolution from mining camp to community, from the richest gold discovery in Canadian history to the bitter miners’ strike of 1901 that turned boom into a human disaster. The book documents the town’s survival through the Great War and the Great Depression, more war, and the half-century to follow. Through it all volunteers developed recreational facilities–hockey arena, swimming pool, library, ball park, ski lift, and more–which created a still greater sense of community and gave rise to more gold: that to be found in Olympic medals earned by Rossland’s champion skiers.

The book ends with Rossland’s centennial, not carrying its history into the 21st Century when battles almost as fierce as the labour struggles that won miners the 8-hour day were waged to save the community from being turned into a resort where working-class families would be priced out of home ownership and the very recreational facilities they had helped build. Had the story been taken that far it would have had a happy ending–except for the fact that there is no end to history, happy or otherwise.

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Published in 1996 by Harry Lefevre together with the Rossland Historic Society and the BC Heritage Foundation, the book is now out of print. Rossland Library has a circulating copy, and Russell’s Rare Books offers copies for $12.

Photos by Larry Doell