In this edition of Trail Blazers, the Times looks at what is inarguably one of the most defining features of the city, the Trail Gulch. This photo, circa the late 1920s, is of the Venetian Grocery. This store was later known as Tonelli’s Grocery, a dry goods, boots and shoe store on Rossland Avenue. The owner, Leonardo Tonelli, is standing to the left in an apron, his wife Vincenza is in the next doorway, and one of their sons, Joe, is sitting in the truck. (Photo courtesy the Trail Historical Society)

Trail Blazers

This week’s feature looks at the Gulch and where the historical photos come from

Described by local historians as a narrow valley cut into the earth by the Trail Creek, the Gulch became a foundation for the city’s Italian community as early as 1896.

Read more: Trail Blazers

Read more: Trail Blazers

The land was initially settled by squatters who worked at the smelter or on the railroad.

They constructed shacks, gardens, chicken coops, and then businesses, before their occupancy was legitimized.

When Trail was incorporated in 1901, the land was sold to the residents.

As more Italian immigrants arrived in the city, they continued to settle in the Gulch, forming organizations, such as the Cristoforo Colombo Lodge (1905), and developing a community.

While much has changed in the appearance of the Gulch, it remains a significant historical landmark in the development of the City of Trail.

The photo of the Venetian Grocery and all pictures for upcoming Thursday features titled Trail Blazers are from the collection of the Trail Historical Society.

The historical society was organized in 1953 when a small group of local history buffs met at Elsie Turnbull’s home to discuss ways and means to protect and preserve the community’s history.

There was a consensus that there was interest in the city’s history and a society was formed as a branch of the BC Historical Association, now the BC Historical Federation.

Initially, the group collected historical photos and artifacts and made plans to establish a museum. The museum, located for years in the Trail Memorial Centre, did not become a reality until 1977.

Then in 1978, the organization’s name officially became the Trail Historical Society.

The nucleus of the society has always been strong, and members have made great strides over the past 20 years to realize their founders’ vision.

In 2017, the City of Trail assumed responsibility for the collection management with staff from the new Trail Museum and Archives, located in the Riverfront Centre.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the municipality to formalize the society’s invigorated relationship with the City of Trail.

The Trail Historical Society remains the owner and steward of all collections and staff collaborates on all issues related to the collections, exhibits and programming in the new facility.

The society board meets on the third Wednesday of every month and always welcomes guests and new members. Notably, all in-person meetings have been suspended indefinitely due to the pandemic.

To contact the Trail Historical Society, e-mail

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– with files from

City of TrailLocal History

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