Smelter anniversary prompts plenty of parties

Pick up a copy of the Sept. 16 issue of the Trail Times for a double-page pull out of a front page from 1981.

As the Trail Times continues to celebrate 120 years of reporting local news, we’ve donned white gloves and browsed through historical newspapers, looking to highlight some of the City of Trail’s landmark events

The year was 1981 and everyone was at the party, according to the Sept. 21 top story in the Trail Daily Times.

Cominco celebrated its 75th anniversary in weekend events that included streets jammed with parade watchers, long lineups for free hot dogs at Butler Park, and a special event naming Marc Marcolin a freeman of Trail.

Mayor Chuck Lakes made the surprise announcement reported Keith McQuiggan, managing editor, adding, “it is an honorary position and represents the city’s highest honour.”

Besides the iconic Trail image McQuiggan captured on the front page, the Trail Pipe Band marching down the old highway, the story comes full circle in another way.

The reason W.F. Thompson began the Trail Times in 1895 was because a “majestic” smelter was developing on the brow of the city.

He wrote the smelter was the most important West Kootenay Enterprise that employed 175 men. Back then, some claimed the smoke was injurious to health, Thompson said. “But when it rolls forth from the lofty chimneys..its appearance heralding the advancement of the progress in the West Kootenay District and doubling presence of the working forces.”

Fast forward to Cominco’s 75th – and another front page story gives nod to the smoke that inevitably comes with smelting.

Times Staff reported the Steelworkers Local 480 officials were unhappy with the amount of smoke coming from Cominco stacks these days, and scheduled a meeting with the Ministry of Environment to find out what could be done.

Also timely, is an election-related story from Kelowna. Conservative party leader Joe Clark expected further challenges to his leadership but was firmly convinced he was in control and could win another general election and once again, become Prime Minister.

Finally, Alberta’s oil sands dominated the news even then, with major shareholders in Esso and Shell claiming the province was taking too big a share of royalties.

View the double-page pullout in the September 16 issue of the Trail Times.

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