A series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Continuing our look at Rossland neighbourhoods: by the turn of the 20th century, the city was a patchwork of townsite additions whose streets didn’t always line up.
The Rossland Miner of Oct. 24, 1900 reported on “the irregular platting of additions … The matter has been placed in the hands of the city solicitor, asking for a report as to the best methods to be adopted in order to mitigate the evil.”
City engineer William Van Buskirk explained the owners of lots on the Butte fraction mining claim had applied for water from the city but it was impossible to reach that area without crossing private property, since no streets nor alleys had yet been laid out.
Van Buskirk also noted the third and fourth additions to the Railway Addition as well as the Durham Addition did not properly connect to the rest of the city grid.
“Thus on Third addition, Fifth avenue, west of Washington street is about 100 feet north of Fifth avenue on the Nickel Plate addition, and in consequence there are two dead ended streets, both called Fifth avenue, in the block between Washington and Spokane streets.”
Furthermore, Sixth, Seventh, Eight, and Railway streets were not connected to streets to the west.
Van Buskirk suggested any further subdivisions should be submitted to city council for approval to ensure they aligned with previously platted streets.
Somehow the matter must have been rectified, although it’s not clear what happened.
Later that year, another townsite headache cropped up when John Stussi acquired land at the south end of the city, connecting to Davis Street. His addition — which doesn’t seem to have had a name — ignored an old road that led to the Sunset and Lily May mines. Further, the fencing of some lots was expected to block Davis Street. He wanted the city to build a new road through his addition, but council balked, saying there was no money to do so.
Again, it’s unclear how the problem was resolved.
Another addition, the Enterprise, was laid out by Kenneth L. Burnet on Oct. 16, 1902 on top of the mining claim of the same name. According to an ad in the Evening World published 12 days later, it was “Only seven blocks north of Columbia avenue, extending east practically from Washington to Butte streets.”
A map shows its east-west streets were Enterprise and Elmore Avenues, while its north-south streets — set at an angle — were continuations of Queen, St. Paul, Monte Christo, and Butte. Elmore exists today, but Enterprise does not. It’s a little hazy from the map whether Elmore was never built, or if it became today’s McLeod Avenue (a name adopted in 1948).
“It seems clear that the Enterprise people were marketing their properties to men who worked in the mines,” Rossland historian Ron Shearer notes. “The ad in the Evening World, a labour-oriented newspaper, and their marketing pitch include the observation that it was but a 10-minute walk along the railway tracks to the major lines.”
The ad also indicated, vexingly, that there was “No hill to climb to or from town or the mines.”
“I suppose the defense would have been that they did not mean the Columbia Avenue area,” Shearer says. “There were some shops along Second Avenue and Spokane Street above Second and this could be construed as ‘town.’”
Another working man’s addition was laid out on the west side of the city by 1903 for pioneer prospector John Y. Cole, immediately west of the Black Bear mining claim. It further extended LeRoi, Kootenay, and Cooke avenues and added three new north-south streets: Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, none of which exist today.
Cole arrived in the Trail Creek mining camp in 1892 and struck it rich with the OK mine. He then bought into the White Bear Mining Co. and became its general manager.
By 1900, Cole was selling houses and lots on the White Bear claim, which was the start of his namesake addition. In 1903, a legal ad indicated Montreal Street was to be closed and moved 90 feet west, perhaps to resolve surveying anomalies. But it didn’t prevent the addition from being consigned to oblivion.
Next week we’ll start looking at Rossland’s more modern neighbourhood names.
— With thanks to Ron Shearer