Golden Museum and Archives


Dirty Drake


Many of the old-timers that came to this area as prospectors and settlers, brought with them an image so to speak, that earned them the title of “character.” Many times it’s hard to separate the “stories” from the truth. Sometimes the stories are much better.


While researching riverboats on the Columbia River, I came across information on a character named George Drake, also know as “Dirty Drake.” The following “story” can’t be verified but here’s how its been recorded in several historical books.


“To replace the Marion as a low water boat, Captain Armstrong purchased the bateau Alert in 1890, equipped her with a primitive engine and side wheels and renamed her the Pert. She ran for a year or so on the Columbia River before being sent to Columbia Lake. She was a “one man boat” under the command of a skipper-deckhand-engineer named George Drake, universally known as “Dirty Drake”, whose career later came to a doleful end. As a result of many complaints from passengers, Captain Armstrong took him to Golden and ordered a barber to give him a bath. The barber took one look at “Dirty Drake”, shuttered, and said, “I dare not. The shock would kill him.” But Captain Armstrong was adamant and Drake was bathed, perhaps for the first time in his life. It was his last bath. In a week, he was dead.”


Because I’m concerned about accurately relating the history of the area, I even looked for the information for that time period in the old Golden Era newspaper and sure enough, there was a poem written about Drake.


Never satisfied until I have the whole story, I continued on with my research on George Drake. George died at St. Michael’s, Alaska, in 1900 of typhoid fever, several years after his “bath”. I really liked the story much better.


By Colleen Palumbo

For “2000 Golden Memories”

Curling in Golden, BC


A heavy snowfall in the fall of 1896 caused the roof of the curling rink to collapse, taking one whole side of the rink with it. (Twice in Golden's history their rinks have collapsed under snow loads, March 1972 was the second time).


Negligence on the part of the caretaker was considered responsible for the roof collapsing Capt. Frank Armstrong had gone to the building to check on the progress of the work that had done to the interior the night before and was just outside the building at the time of the collapse. It was fortunate that no on was in the building at the time of the mishap.


On Monday morning group of the local curlers got together to see what could be to the building. That evening a meeting of the membership voted to repair the damage to the building as long as the costs could be held within a certain dollar value.


Tuesday morning word was put out that the group wanted to repair the building and by afternoon Dan McDonald offered to do the necessary repairs within the cost set by the club. Wednesday morning saw a group of workman on site and within a month the building was ready to start the new season.


The Golden Curling Club saw that it was going to be necessary to erect a new and more substantial building before too much time passed. A meeting of those interested in the erection of a new rink was held March 22, 1898 and after much discussion it was resolved that the Golden Rink Co., Ltd. be formed, with a capital stock of $5,000 in 500 shares at $10 each. A finance committee was formed and they were authorized to take the necessary steps get a charter, have shares printed and start selling shares.


A building committee was also appointed and was given the power to have plans drawn up that would be presented to the membership at their next meeting. The building plans were to take in consideration that the rink had serve both skaters and curlers that both activities could be at the same time. At the next and subsequent meetings, the plan were presented to the membership and agreed upon by the whole.


Plans were set into motion immediately and the contract the construction of what was to feet wide and the length of the building that were used for curling.


A visitor’s lounge at one end of the building was 38 feet by 12 feet. The front of the room facing the rink was paneled with glass, and had a heater in it for the comfort of the onlookers. Above this gallery was another room from which spectators could watch the action and still keep warm. The building was very well lit with 75 windows along its walls.


In December of 1899 an addition was made to the building of 14 feet so that the area of the room could be changed. From this time on .the curling would be carried out in the center of the room and the skaters actually had an oval around the outside of the building 16 feet wide. Eleven circuits around the outside equated a mile. Along with this addition the Rink Company made it possible to open some of the windows to allow the cold air from the outside to penetrate faster while the ice was being flooded.


Over these first years of the Golden Curling Club many special events took place. Bonspiels were staged in late January or early February of each year and usually included a carnival and ball. The dress carnival was the big event of the week for the families involved. A great deal of time and thought was put into making winning costumes.


Admission into the carnival was 25 cents if you were not in costume and free if you were. Prizes were donated by local merchants and were awarded for best men's and ladies, best boys and girls and best comic.


Trophies and prizes were donated to the Golden Curling Club by big name companies, merchants and local patrons, and residents. While playing in Calgary the Goldenites won the Burns Cup and the Brewery Cup each of which were to come to Golden and remain in perpetuity, glass decanters, oak cabinets, opera glasses, shoes, shaving mugs, vest and stones. The Golden Museum has among its collection the Forster Cup out up by H.E. Forster, the H.G. Parson trophy (often called the Henderson trophy because of the many wins by the Henderson family) and the District Medal from 1898 won by H.G. Parson.


The club also had the Columbia River Lumber Company Trophy from the local sawmill, the Kennedy and Douglas Company, merchants of Toronto put up a curlers vert and the Calgary Brewing Co. put up stones as prizes.


by Colleen Palumbo for "2000 Golden Memories"



Horse Racing in Golden


Frank Nicholson rode in a “cigar race” at Windermere in June, 1900, on a horse belonging to the Mitchell family of Brisco. The rules of the race were to saddle the horse and have a cigar alight when back to the starting point. It could be lighted before mounting or at any time, so long as it was alight at the finish line. The horses were to run three hundred yards to a post upright in the ground and return. In the light, dry, sandy soil at Windermere race track, the dust was so thick one could seldom see the contestants. Frank had been slow for some reason, in starting off, and before he reached the turning post, an Indian was returning and the dust was so bad even the horses could not see each other. They met head on and Frank was shot up so far into the air people could see him through the thinner dust, maybe twelve or fourteen feet up in the air. His horse broke his neck and died on the spot and the Indian had a broken leg. Frank was practically unhurt.


For a few years, Frank drove the stage that ran between Windermere and Golden, and was one of the better known old timers of the Valley. He lived in Vancouver for many years and passed away at the age of eighty-six.


Windermere horse races were the highlights of interest and excitement in those far-off days. The winner, for many years, of the open mile race was a horse known as Old Goldie owned by Mr. George Goldie and ridden by Walter Stoddard, then in his teens. Other noted horses were Roy Carruthers, a beautiful but hard to handle stallion the Indians had brought in from the U.S. to try to beat Old Goldie. He was much faster but a bad starter. Another fine horse of note at the races was "Grey Eagle" owned by the late Joseph Lake and ridden by his son, the late Percy Lake. Kootenay Bay was another fast pony, as speed went at local races. “Cayuse” talk provided excitement for the majority of Valley settlers. A dentist by the name of McAbee organized horse races in Golden. Besides local horses, racing stock was imported for the circuit from United States, Calgary and Vancouver. The site of our Swimming Pool and the Community Park was the race track.


By Thomas King


Incorporation of Golden as a Village


Prior to incorporating as a Village, Golden incorporated as a Fire Protection District for fire protection and street lighting. At that time Golden was served by a volunteer fire brigade. The brigade was very dedicated but was handicapped by lack of funds. Any money available had to be raised by the firemen by operating midway, etc. Some equipment was supplied by the A.R.P. and the brigade, among other things, purchased a second hand model A Ford and installed four fire wells. The first fire hall was an empty room at George Keenleyside’s butcher shop. George was our fire chief.


After the protection district was formed Golden purchased a well equipped fire truck with a five hundred gallon tank for water and the capacity to pump from wells. A store building originally operated by Mrs. Weston as a ladies’ shop, and then by Hugh and Olive Sutton was purchased at a sheriff's sale for $150.00 and equipped as a fire hall. George Keenleyside, George Marrs and Vaughan Kimpton were elected as Trustees of the District.


The main reason for incorporating as a Village was to supply Golden with a central water and sewer system.


A public meeting took place in the Rod and Gun Hall at its former location. A provisional council was nominated and elected to work towards incorporation. The council worked on this including considerable correspondence with Victoria. Also in due course a referendum was held and due to the large majority in favor of incorporating we were advised that no further action was necessary and we would become a Village. Also if we incorporated before July Ist, 1957, we would receive the full amount of the property taxes for the full year. This amounted to $8,000.00. The population of Golden was about one thousand two hundred. Accordingly, Golden incorporated on June 26th, 1957. Elections were held in December of that year. George Marrs became Village Chairman (Mayor) and the Commissioners (Aldermen) were Dr. Gordon Lapp, Sam Thompson, Gene LaRue and Vic Collins.


Princess Margaret stopped briefly in Golden in 1958 on her Canada-wide tour by train accompanied among others by Lieutenant Governor Frank Ross. My wife and I greeted her at the station on behalf of the village. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip crossed Canada by rail in 1959 and stopped in Golden for thirty minutes. All the dignitaries from down the Valley were present. I had the honor of introducing them to their Royal Highnesses. I accompanied Her Majesty and my wife accompanied Prince Phillip as they walked along the platform to great the large crowd assembled. After the royal train departed, my wife and I entertained the dignitaries at a cold luncheon in our home.


The Village rented office space in the old Medical Clinic (now the Rondo Motel’s Office). The first Village Clerk was John Balcers. Dave Hagman, as Public Works employee, did such outside work like gathering garbage, street grading and snow plowing.


The present Municipal Office was built in 1960 at a cost of $51,000.00. The Cranbrook Health Department offered financial assistance provided health organizations were allowed quarters there. The Kinsmen backed the project as well. At the official opening Kin President Bill Dainard was Master of Ceremonies and I spoke on behalf of the Village. The Fire Hall and Library were located in the building.


Complaints were received shortly after incorporating about horses and cattle wandering loose in the Village. A pound was established and after some animals were impounded this problem ceased.


Over the years considerable improvements were accomplished in Golden. A central water and sewer system were installed. A storage tank for water was installed on the hill above Golden and water was pumped from deep wells below the hill to the tank and fed back to town by gravity. Lagoons for the sewer system and a treatment plant were installed near the Columbia River.


Quite a number of streets were paved and sidewalks constructed. The Municipal Park was taken over and a residence constructed for the caretaker’s use. The campsite for tourists with trailers and campers was enlarged and improved. Bath houses with showers and toilets were built. The Golden cemetery came under the jurisdiction of the Village. This was improved and more land was added.


W.A.C. Bennett, the then premier of British Columbia, with his cabinet met here for meetings on a tour around the country. The Village Council met them at the Municipal building during one of their meetings. A luncheon was held in the dining room of the former Big Bend Hotel. The visit took place on June 15, 1963.


by George E. Marrs




The R.C.M.P. in Golden


The first duty that the Force performed in British Columbia was that of protecting Canadian Pacific Railway property and interests during the construction of the railway in 1884, 1885 and 1886. Under the command of Inspector Sam Steele, a small party of police kept in check the lawless elements of that time. Until June 1885, Steele's Headquarters, consisting of a force of eight men, was at Golden. In 1884 a man named Baird was murdered near Golden and was robbed of over $4,000. Baird was murdered 29 miles from the line of the railway, thus being outside the limit of police jurisdiction which was 28 miles on each side of the track.


In the summer of 1885, as construction of the railway proceeded westwards, the NWMP Headquarters in BC was moved to Beaver Creek and Golden was left with a detachment of 3 men and one horse.


On New Year's Eve, 1885, Cst. William Ross died while on duty. He and Cst. Ernest L. Percival set out to walk from Golden City to the Third Siding - a CPR installation west of the town. Constable Percival arrived at the Third Siding at 2:30 a.m. and reported that Cst. Ross had not been able to walk any longer and was approximately five miles from the Third Siding. Cst.Percival built a fire for Cst. Ross prior to leaving him. A search party found Constable Ross badly frozen and barely alive. He died a short time later. Cst. Ross was originally buried in the pioneer cemetery in Golden; however, his remains were moved to another location in Golden in 1954 when they were located by Cst. White. Cst. Ross’ grave marker was moved to the Calgary Heritage Park in 1964. Cst. Ross had engaged with the NWMP on April 12, 1882 in Toronto, Ontario.


Late in 1886, the NWMP were withdrawn from BC.


In June, 1887, Superintendent Steele and "D" Division at Fort MacLeod were again sent to the Kootenay District of BC to restore peace between the natives and settlers of that region. At the time, there were two divisions located at Fort MacLeod - “D” and “H” Divisions. Prior to leaving for the Golden area, men were hired, discharged and transferred between the two divisions, so the names of all of the men who came to area is not known. The Division arrived at Golden on June 28 and pitched camp on the left bank of the Kicking Horse River, the camp being connected to the town by a wooden bridge.


Shortly after the arrival of the Division at Golden, the steamer “Duchess”, navigating the Columbia Lakes, was hired by the Police to ship supplies to the Kootenay; however, the boat capsized and very little was recovered. Steele engaged another small steamer belonging to J.C. Hayes, a merchant in Golden, at the usual rates of freight, viz., one dollar per hundred.


During the remainder of the Division's stay in Golden, Steele employed the men and teams in hauling stores to the landing, getting the new saddles put together and oiled, branding and numbering the remounts, and various other duties in preparation for the trip to the Kootenay.

On the morning of July 17th, the Division headed for the Kootenay. Staff Sergeants Pane and Mercer and eight constables, most of whom were sick, were left behind in Golden. During the Division’s twelve month stay in the Kootenay, Golden continued to be the shipping point for supplies to the police post in the Kootenay.


In 1888, a road was under construction between Golden and the post at Kootenay. It was felt that this road would greatly facilitate communications, as previously the river and the packtrail were the only means of travel and freighting.


In August 1888, the Division left the district and returned to Fort MacLeod in the NWT. It was not until 1919, in the re-organization following World War I, that the present “E” Division, BC was created; its headquarters at Vancouver had a strength of 211 men for the Division.


On August 15, 1950, the R.C.M.P. absorbed the BC Provincial Police and assumed the responsibility of the full policing of the province. One detachment, consisting of one constable (Cst. D.B. “Doc” Poole) & one corporal (Cpl. Alexander Craig) was opened at Golden. On that same date, the R.C.M.P. took over as detachment quarters, an office, cell room, and married living quarters in a building owned by the BC Provincial Government.


This building, located at 612 10th Avenue East was rented. It was vacated on January 31, 1965. The location is beside the present day (1998) Reddi Mart Convenience Store. The detachment neighbored the Court House of the time, which has since become a vacant building itself.

A new Crown-owned R.C.M.P. Type 17 Detachment Building was built by Burnham Construction Ltd. of Golden on the corner of Calgary and River Streets in 1964. These new quarters were occupied on February 1, 1965.


The R.C.M.P. continued excavations at the Golden Pioneer Cemetery at some point during the early 1980's. The occupants of the cemetery were removed and relocated to the present Golden cemetery. Presumably, the cemetery was excavated due to its position adjacent to the Trans Canada Highway that was being upgraded near the cemetery at the time.


In 1975, the R.C.M.P. Type 17 Detachment Building was sold to a local resident (It is presently situated at 503 - 11th Street) and the Detachment took temporary quarters in the downtown section across the bridge at 414 E 6th Avenue. During the next year the new office transferred to this new building in the spring of 1977. Official opening for the new Detachment Office took place in July 1977.


Once Again the Detachment was situated at 902 9th Street, formerly corner of Calgary and River Streets.


The Golden Highway Patrol Unit regionalized in May 1995 to increase its membership from five to seven members. As well, authorization was given the same year to allow Golden H.P. members to patrol 45 kilometers into the Alberta Border. In 1996, the Highway Patrol experienced yet another gain in resources by the authorization of a Sergeant in charge bringing the total number of members to eight. Today, Golden Highway members patrol Highway #1 from Castle Junction to Roger's Pass, Hwy 93 to Invermere and Hwy 95 to Golden.


In June 1998, the Field R.C.M.P. Detachment was closed permanently. Supplies and personnel were transferred to the Golden Detachment. The Golden R.C.M.P. now provides police service for the Field area. Previously, Field was a two-person detachment until 1996. In 1996, Field Detachment was reduced to one member detachment, while coverage was provided by the Golden R.C.M.P. when Field's constable was off duty.

Today, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are acting to meet the challenges and ever present changes to better prepare the police for the evolving needs of our community. Community Based policing has become a way of doing business for the local detachment. The means used to accomplish this goal is through the R.C.M.P. Community Consulting Group. This group consists of members of the public who are interested in obtaining the best possible policing service that addresses the concerns and issues of relevance to the people of Golden and area. The recent introduction of restorative justice programs such as the Golden Youth and Adult Assistance Programs have provided the community with alternatives to the court process that are proving themselves to be very effective deterrents to crime. Other community initiatives include the Auxiliary Constable Program which has been around for years and has provided volunteers in the community an opportunity to assist regular members with policing and law enforcement. The Golden R.C.M.P. plan to continue the tradition of providing the best possible police service to the people of Golden, and area into the next Millennium, as we meet new challenges and changes.



1. Jack White, RCMP Historian

2. Helen Lapka. A Brief History of the R.C.M.P. In Golden.

3. Colleen Palumbo of the Golden Historical Society


Golden Museum and Archives - Box 992, 1302 - 11th Ave South, Golden, BC V0A 1H0

                  Phone and Fax: 250-344-5169 email:

Copyright © 2018, Golden & District Museum. All Rights Reserved.