For something a little different this week, Trail Blazers is featuring an historical image from the Kootenay Boundary. This rough and tumble photo shows the Forshaw Ranch near Phoenix, B.C, circa 1914. Photo Credit: Boundary Heritage Facebook Page (via Grand Forks Gazette)

For something a little different this week, Trail Blazers is featuring an historical image from the Kootenay Boundary. This rough and tumble photo shows the Forshaw Ranch near Phoenix, B.C, circa 1914. Photo Credit: Boundary Heritage Facebook Page (via Grand Forks Gazette)

Trail Blazers: Home, home on the range

Trail Blazers is a weekly historical feature

Phoenix is a ghost town in Boundary country, 11 km east of Greenwood.

Once called the “highest city in Canada” by its citizens (1,412 metres /4,633 feet above sea level) it was a booming copper mining town from the late 1890s until 1919.

It was home to 1,000 citizens and had an opera house, 20 hotels, a brewery and its own city hall.

Phoenix magistrate, Judge Willie Williams, who served there from 1897 until 1913, became famous for his booming declaration, “I am the highest judge, in the highest court, in the highest city in Canada.”

When the First World War ended in 1918, the price of copper tanked and Phoenix, which was entirely reliant on its one industry, began to dry up.

When the last ore was shipped out in 1919, thousands exited soon after. Many left their homes and belongings, making Phoenix the largest ghost town Canada had ever seen. In 1920, wrecking crews arrived to haul away the churches, halls, stores, skating rink and hospital. Structures were dismantled and re-erected in other communities.

An open pit mine operated in Phoenix during the 1950s and through to 1978 but the venture was ultimately abandoned. Historic buildings were buried or bulldozed.

One remaining artifact is Phoenix’s WWI Cenotaph. Another memorial can be found in Greenwood where the open pit miners of the 70’s erected a commemorative phoenix bird sculpture in hopes that someday Phoenix would rise again.

Locals have restored the Phoenix pioneer cemetery in recent years.

First World War Cenotaph at Phoenix. Photo: Wikipedia

First World War Cenotaph at Phoenix. Photo: Wikipedia

Today, Phoenix Mountain is an inviting destination for skiers and boarders during the winter. Located within a half hour of Grand Forks and Greenwood, Phoenix provides terrain for all skill levels.

“Our unique community atmosphere is always welcoming and inviting,” the community touts. “Come and experience ‘The Best Little Mountain in BC!’”

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City of TrailKootenay Boundary Regional DistrictLocal History