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GHOST TOWNS AND DROWNED TOWNS OF WEST KOOTENAY.

Turnbull, Elsie G.

Surrey (B.C.), Heritage House Publishing, 1988. 110pp. paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-919214-61-4. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Michael Freeman

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November


In the late 1800ís numerous mining communities sprang up almost overnight in the West Kootenay region of southern British Columbia. Served by the new CP railway and locally built stern-wheeler ferries, each community followed a similar cycle. Founded with a typical frontier get-rich-quick optimism, the towns prospered as long as the ore held out, the railway ran, and the ramshackle wooden buildings survived the ever present fire hazard. When any one of these fortuitous circumstances ceased to exist, the towns suffered a seemingly inevitable fate.

Turnbull, who has personally viewed the rise and fall of many of the towns, uses contemporary newspaper accounts, rare photographs and extensive archival research to re-create life in turn-of-the-century B.C. Unfortunately, she attempts to deal with over sixty of these towns within the all-too-brief 110 pages of this slim volume. Unavoidably, a certain pattern begins to repeat itself, and the reader can no longer distinguish one settlement from the next. In addition, one wonders to whom these brief fact-filled episodes would be of interest, since the history of the period has been told in more romantic, interesting fashion in countless other volumes.

Recommended only for serious students of early B.C. history.


Michael Freeman, Bathurst Heights S.S., North York, Ont.
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