Golden Museum and Archives - Box 992, 1302 - 11th Ave South, Golden, BC V0A 1H0
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In 1899, Edouard Feuz Sr., and Christian Haesler came to Canada, and were engaged as mountain guides by the C.P.R. Co. In 1901, more guides were brought out, the two Kaufmans', F. Michel, and Schlunegger. There were stationed at Lake Louise, Glacier and Field. Edouard Feuz Jr., came out with the older guides in 1903. They came to Canada every spring and returned to Switzerland in October. They did this until 1911. Ernest Feuz, and Rudolph Aemmer, joined the others in 1909, but still went back to Switzerland every fall.
The C.P.R. then decided to build homes for the Guides in Golden. These houses were completed in 1911, and were named Swiss Village, "Edelweiss." In June of 1912, Ernest, Rudolph, Christian and Edouard, along with their families, moved from Switzerland to the C.P.R. Swiss Village to stay. A younger brother Walter, came out but did not do any guiding until years later; but he also worked for he C.P.R.
The Swiss Village is situated one mile west of Golden. The Company employed only four guides after 1912.
All the Guides came out from Switzerland between 1899 and 1955. They climbed the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies, many times going with packtrains and camping out for weeks at a time. In 1906, Gottfried Feuz and Edouard went out with the Canadian Alpine Club, and camped at Summit Lake in Yoho Park. They graduated as the first members of the club.
Very often the Swiss Guides were called out for rescue work; such as rescuing inexperienced climbers stranded on mountain ledges and dangerous precipices, others with broken limbs, and some who had fallen to their death. They gave information and warning to hundreds of climbers before they started on a dangerous venture of climbing without a guide.
Under the management of Basil Gordon, in 1922 the guides decided to build Abbot's Pass Hut; for climbers between Mt. Victoria and Mt. Lefroy at Lake Louise. It was the highest building in the Canadian Rockies, being 9,598 feet above sea level.
All the guides developed the adventurous side of their characters during their climbing in the Canadian Rockies. Nearly all the first ascents required one or more scouting trips to discover practical routes. At the end of a great ascent, the Guuide brought his patron down in good condition, and very happy with the experience.
Christian Haesler Jr.
Christian Haesler, Jr. gave up a promising career in the Swiss Mountain Artillery because it would interfer with his guiding interests. He came to Golden in 1912, having received his guide's licence at Meiringen in 1911. Although he was originally stationed at Field, he was soon transferred to Glacier House where he remained until its closure in 1926. He and Ernest Feuz were responsible for the maintenance of the Hermit and Glacier Circle Huts in Glacier National Park. Lillian Gest accompanied him on climbs each season from 1932 until his death. She accompanied him on his last ascent in the summer of 1940. Although Mr. Haesler had been badly clawed by a grizzly bear the previous Septemberr, they completed the climb of an 18,283 foot peak above panther falls, between Nigel Peak and Mt. Cirrus
Rudolph Aemmer, having his Swiss Guide's licence at Pontresina in 1907, came directly to Lake Louise in 1909 where he remained until his retirement in 1949 at the age of 65. Rudolph assisted in the erection of the Swiss-type stone hit on Abbot's Pass. He was instrumental in the rescue of Mrs. Stone when she was stranded on Mt. Eon after the accident which claimed the life of Dr. Stone on the first ascent of the mountin in 1921. In the spring of 1950, he returned to Interlaken, where he lived until his death in the summer or 1973.
Walter Feuz was engaged as a Guide by the C.P.R. He served in this capacity till ill health forced him to give up guiding. He then worked for many years for the C.P.R. as Captain of he rowboats and canoes at Lake Louise. Walter always had a boat ready for any emergency that might arise. Walter and his wife, Johanna, lived at their home in the Swiss Village until their deaths.
Edward Feuz Jr.
Edward Feuz Jr. was born in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, on November 27, 1884.
In 1897, when he was thirteen, he climbed his first mountain, the Jungfrau, a major peak in his home mountains of the Bernese Oberland. He was the youngest ever to make the ascent, up to that time. The climbing party was made up of tourists and led by his father, Edward Sr.
In 1903, Edwards came to Canada with his father. He made his first climbs in the Selkirks, as a porter, under his father’s guidance. After spending the winter of 1903-03 in the Canadian mountains, he began the seasonal migration from Switzerland to Canada.
In 1908, Edward earned his guide’s certificate in Switerland, and the following year (1909) he married a girl from his homeland, Martha Heimann. She was with him until her death in July 1974.
After 1909 Edward centered his guiding activities in Lake Louise. He was one of the first Swiss Guides to come to Canada to work for the C.P.R., and recorded more first ascents in the Canadian Rockies than any other guide or mountaineer.
When the C.P.R. built facilities for housing their guides at “Edelweiss” near Golden, in 1912, Edward and his wife moved to the B.C. Community. However, they only remained in the “Swiss Village” until 1915, when they moved to a house on Hospital Creek, and lived there until 1960 when they moved to downtown Golden where Edward remained until his death, April 13, 1981.
THE FIRST SIKH PEOPLE (1902-1927)
In 1897, Queen Victoria invited her South Asian troops to attend her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London. These Sikh soldiers,
having crossed Canada on their way home, returned to India with stories of an attractive land waiting to be settled by British subjects.
The first Sikh's to Golden arrived in 1902, at the same time as the first South Asian people where allowed into Canada to stay. Surjan Singh and Dr. Hari Singh came from the United States by steam ship to Canada and then train to Golden, BC.
There were about forty-five Sikh people in Golden at that time. The Sikh temple in Golden was the first in British Columbia and was likely an old mill building that the company allowed the new immigrants to use. It was located close to the present Rona lumber yard.
The temple was beautiful inside with gorgeous carpets on the floor which people sat on during worship. Eveyone took their shoes off before entering . Services started with the Lord's Prayer in Punjabi. Many of the Sikh people built their homes close to this temple.
They were very friendly, hardworking people and well respected as is shown from interviews with some of Golden's oldtimers like Norman King, Bill Wenman and Blackie Curveon.
Golden Hospital records from 1893 to 1930 showed about 30 Sikh people admitted. Properties have been recorded under the names of Bakhtawar Singh, Inder Singh, Hira Singh, and Attar Singh.
Hardit Singh and a few others brought their wives to Golden in 1923. Hardit and his wife had the first Sikh baby born in Golden on August 26, 1924.
In 1926, a massive forest fire tore through the timber limits of the Columbia River Lumber Company and the sawmill was closed in 1927. Teh 40 or so Sikh people living in Golden at that time moved to the west coast to work.
When they left Golden they took the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book) with them, and abandoned the building, and carpet. The building was eventually sold and then was moved.
David Thompson was of Welsh parents, born in Westminister on Appril 30, 1770. His father died on February 28, 1772, leaving Mrs. Thompson with two small boys under two years of age. In 1777, David was taken off her hands and placed in a charity school near Westminister Abbey. This is called the Grey Coat School which Thompson describes as "a royal foundation" where "I received a mathematical education for the Royal Navy." But he continues "The peace of 1783 and the reduction of the Navy did not require us and my lot fell to be engaged by the Hudson Bay Company." He apprenticed to the Hudson Bay Company for seven years.
On May 29, 1784, he sailed from the Thames on the Prince Rupert and arrived at Churchill Factory in Hudson Bay in September of 1784. There Thompson's career in North America began. He spent one year at Churchill under the factor Samuel Hearne after which he was sent in 1785 to York Factory.
In that same year of 1785 he went inland with William Tomison and remained there until 1791. Two important things happened during his long stay inland. The first was that Thompson had a serious accident, breaking his leg on Dec. 23rd, 1788. The following winter at Cumberland House, a H.B.C. trading post on the Saskatchewan River, Tomison's journal records "David Thompson's leg still bad." The second thing was, that as a result of this accident, which detained him so long at Cumberland House, his future career was decided and possibly had a major impact on the history of Western North America. Philip Tumor, the H.B.C. surveyor and astronomer also wintered at Cumberland House over the winter of 1789-1790. During this period he trained both Peter Fidler and David Thompson in the art of surveying, astronomy and mapmaking. This
training later made Thompson known to the Indians west of the mountains as "Koo-Koo-Sint" which appears to be a corruption of the Salish word for "star" and probably meant "The Star Man."
Thompson served thirteen years with the Hudson Bay Company and became quite disillusioned by what he considered their lack of interest in exploring and mapping new lands to the west. He was concerned that their interests lay solely in the profit derived from trading furs with the Indians.
On the 9th June, 1797 he made an entry in his journal, "Today I left the service of the Hudson Bay Company and joined that of the Northwest Company of Canada."
Several historians question Thompson's rationale in this decision, but despite the controversy the fact remains that he did leave the service of the Hudson Bay Company and join the rival North West Company of Canada. While it does not appear to have any impact on Thompson's decision , the fact that the Hudson Bay Company was headquartered in London, England, whereas the Northwest Company of Canada was headquartered in Montreal may have had an influence on the difference in attitude of the two companies.
The Northwest Company immediately sent him on a major surveying and mapping expedition on which he travelled over 3000 miles and was shown much appreciation by his new employer.
His surveying, fur trading, and exploring took him further west and eventually in the spring of 1800 we find Thompson and the N.W.C. factor, Duncan McGillivary, on the upper Saskatchewan River at Rocky Mountain House. The assignment was to find a suitable trade route through the mountains and a navigable waterway to the western ocean.
In the fall of 1800 after exploring the present day Bow River (from Calgary to west of Exshaw) for an access route across the mountains, they were returning north to Rocky Mountain House, when they were advised by a camp of Piegan Indians that a group of Kootenai Indians from across the mountains were camped on the upper reaches of the Red Deer River.
Thompson turned west up the Red Deer to try to make contact with these visitors from the west side of the mountains. He eventually met them about 25 miles west of the present day community of Sundre, Alta. This group of Kootenai's consisted of twenty-six men and seven women. They complained bitterly of the constant harassment and horse stealing by the Piegans, who had firearms and could dominate the natives from the west, since they had no access to the white mans trading posts.
Thompson convinced the Kootenais to come with him back down the Red Deer and north to the trading post at Rocky Mountain House. While trading with the Kootenais, Thompson carefully questioned them about their country and any major rivers over the mountains. He convinced them to take two of his men, La Gasse and Le Blanc, back over the mountains to winter with them at what we now know as the headwaters of the Columbia River. He gave them some of his horses to assist them in their journey. The group left Rocky Mountain House on the 21 st October,
La Gasse and Le Blanc returned down the Columbia, up the Blaeberry, over Howse Pass and down to Rocky Mountain House the following spring
arriving at Rocky Mountain House in May of 1801.
Thus these two men, La Gasse' and Le Blanc were, in late October or early November of 1800, the first non native people to cross the mountains to the Columbia River and pass by the locality of the place we now call home.
The priorities of the fur trade turned eastward and the Columbia River was not visited again until 1806, when Jaco Finlay, with his family and small crew of men, was sent across to clear the trail over Howse Pass and down the Blaeberry to the Columbia where he was to build several canoes. Finlay was employed for this task to prepare the way for Thompson and his party who came over in the spring of 1807. Thus Jaco
Finlay became the second non native visitor to our fair valley.
Now came the mighty explorer and mapmaker himself, David laden with canoes and horses for transportation, a total of fourteen people, accompanied Thompson as he left Rocky Mountain House including his wife, Charl otte(nee Small) and family, and Finan MacDonald, his chief clerk.
Just west of the present bridge across the Saskatchewan River on the Banff Jasper Highway they had to abandon their canoes and transfer their
goods to the horses. Snow on Howse Pass delayed them further and finally at 5:00 am, on the 25th of June, 1807, they left the Saskatchewan. By 1:00 pm on that same day they reached the height of land where Thompson observed a small stream of water running to the west. Being a religious man he records in his journal "May God in his mercy give me to see where these waters flow into the western ocean."
The party travelled with great difficulty over the trail cut by laco Finlay the previous year. They were also desperately short of food. He describes what we now call Howse Pass as "the height of land" and the Blaeberry Valley as "the portage."
By the 30th of June, 1807 the party had reached what he calls the "Kootenai River" (present day Columbia) and made a camp on the south end of what we now know as Moberly Marsh. They dried their trade goods, sent hunters looking for game, built canoes, (the canoes Finlay built were useless) and on July 12th, having placed all the goods in three canoes proceeded up the river. Thompson's journal records many items of interest, however two names he gave to the features are descriptive. While passing the present day Kicking Horse River he called it the,"Rapid
River", and a mile further south he ventured onto a large lake on the west side of the river where he shot 9 swans and hence named the body water of "Swan Lake". This area today is known as McBeath slough or Cedar slough.
The party reached the lower Columbia Lake by the 18th of July, 1807, and after a bad start further up the lake constructed the trading post we know as Kootenai House just west of the present town of Athalmere. This trading post and accompanying structures was the first trading post erected by white men upon the waters of the Columbia River, ante-dating the first erected by an American trader, Andrew Henry, on the headwaters of the Snake River by three years.
The Piegans on the east side of the mountains made a determined effort to destroy Kootenai House and its inhabitants. They were successfully repulsed with no bloodshed. While at Kootenai House that winter Thompson surveyed and named Mt. Nelson, a peak southwest of the house. The name stands as Mt. Nelson on today's maps of the area.
On the 20th of April, 1808 he went south as far as present day Bonners Ferry in Idaho, and on his return reached Kootenay House by the 5th of June. From here, taking his family and the winter fur with him, he again passed by our present homes , reaching the Kootenay Plains on June 22nd. At Boggy Hill on the Saskatchewan River, he left his family and continued all the way east to Rainy Lake House which is east of Lake Winnipeg. Two days later he set out on his return journey westward towards Kootenay House where he arrived on the 10th of Nov., 1808.
Thompson made the same journey across the mountains with furs in 1809 and returned with trade goods. On the east side of the mountains he met Joseph Howse, a clerk of the Hudson Bay Company, on an exploration trip. Howse was returning to the east, and he had not crossed "the height of land."
On this return trip in 1809 Thompson continued south to the present station of Wool in on the Northern Pacific Railway where he built the trading post called Salish House; here he spent the winter of 1809-10. In the spring of 1810 he and his employee's gathered numerous packs of furs from the various trading posts on the tributaries of the Columbia south of what is now the American border. On the 9th of May, 1810 he
left Kullyspell House for the Kootenay River and on the 17th of May, accompanied by his old chief clerk, MacMillan, started up the river with his brigade of canoes reaching McGillivary's portage (Canal Flats) on June 6th. He came down the Columbia ,passed our village again, on his last journey eastward over the Mountain Portage where he arrived on the Saskatchewan by June 19th.
It was in 1810 that Joseph Howse came west over the "Mountain Portage" and established a trading post on what was then known as Flathead Lake.
In late September Thompson started west up the Saskatchewan again with the intention of crossing the height of land by the Mountain Portage (Howse Pass and the Blaeberry). He sent his canoes ahead while he rode up the valley of the Saskatchewan on horseback to the foot of the mountains, but as his canoes had been intercepted and turned back by the hostile Piegans, he was obliged to return down the river and
find a new trail to the Columbia River.
Thompson headed to Athabasca Pass situated at the headwaters of the Athabasca River which was north of the hostile Pi egan territory. They ascended with horses and on the 29th of December, 1810, set out with dog sleds and four horses to cross the mountains by this alternate route. The horses were soon sent back due to the heavy snow.
After a very difficult journey they reached the Columbia River at Boat Encampment on January 18, 1811. At this point several of the men deserted and returned to the Athabasca River. Thompson and three men remained, built a cabin, shot eleven moose, and spent the winter building a clinker built cedar strip canoe which they launched for their journey up the river on the 17th of April, 1811. The exact date the party passed our fair city is not known but he does record reaching the head of the Columbia Lake on the 14th of May, 1811.
This was the last time the great explorer and fur trader was to pass the place now known as Golden.
Athabasca Pass was used for many years by the North West Company and later by the Hudson Bay Company as their main line of travel from the great plains to the valley of the Columbia River. It is interesting to note that Alexander Henry, of the North West Company, and a working partner of David Thompson, came through Howse Pass, and down the Blaeberry from the east in 1811, despite the hostility of the Piegan Indians. He brought with him trade goods for the posts on the lower Columbia. He was the last of the early explorers who came that route to pass
through our valley.
The Piegans on the east side continued to be hostile to any fur traders trying to get through the Saskatchewan, Howse Pass, and the Blaeberry to trade guns with the Indians in the Columbia.
For the remainder of the summer of 1811, Thompson, continued his explorations down the Columbia and its tributaries until at 1 :00 pm on the
15th of July, 1811 his prayer of July 25, 1807, at "the height of land" was answered for he had arrived at the western ocean to find Fort Astoria, a trading post, newly built by the American Pacific Fur Company, who had come by ship around the horn.
After spending a few days at Astoria where he was made welcome, Thompson started back up the Columbia. On this journey up river he did notgo north by way of the Kootenay, but rather went by the more direct route of the Columbia River, passing the mouth of the Kootenay River, camped at the present site of Castlegar, through the two Arrow Lakes, by the site of Revelstoke and finally arrived at his hut at Boat Encampment on September 18th, 1811.
He had now travelled over and surveyed the Columbia River from source to ocean. The remainder of 1811 until April of 1812, he was busy supplying the posts on the lower Columbia using Athabasca Pass with the more direct route south on the Columbia.
On April 22nd, 1812, he bade good bye to the posts on the Columbia and reached Boat Encampment on May 5th. The next day he set out on foot from Boat Encampment for the journey east which was to take him to his family, civilization and retirement. "Thus I have fully completed the survey of this part of North America from sea to sea, and by almost innumerable astronomical observations have determined the positions of the mountains, lakes and rivers, and other remarkable places on the northern part of this continent; the maps of all of which have been drawn, and laid down in geographical position, being now the work of twenty seven years."
One cannot help but wonder, if in all his travels he did remember a special area on the Columbia River; a place we now call home, "The Upper Columbia ". It is quite possible since he did name the river that runs through our community the "Rapid River," and the backwater southeast of town "Swan Lake." Not many places in all his travels received such special consideration.
On May 8, 1812, Thompson crossed "the height of land'" down the Athabasca River and the long journey to the east. He gathered Charlotte and family on the way, Charlotte bore him seven sons and six daughters) and as J.B. Tyrell, the great historican describes it, "In early September arrived at Terrebonne, north of Montreal. Here he took up his residence; and although in the course of his survey of the boundary line between the United States and Canada he travelled as far west as Lake of the Woods, he never returned to his old fields of labour in the far west, or revisited any of his early homes on the banks of the Saskatchewan or Columbia Rivers."
Belyea, Barbara, editor - Columbia Journals - David Thompson.
CouIs, Elliot, editor - The manuscript Journals of Alexander Henry and of David Thompson
Cox, Ross - Adventures on the Columbia River
Glover, Richard, editor - David Thompson's Narrative 1784 - 1812 - a publication of the Champlain Society
Hector, Dr. james - The Journals, Detailed Reports and Observations relative to the explorations by Captain Palliser - London - 1863
Nisbit, Jack - Sources of the River
Morton, Arthur S. - A History of the Canadian West
Ross, Alexander - Oregon SEttlers Volume 8, No 2 Published Feb. 1975 by BC Historical News amd Volume 13 No. 2 Published winter of 1979 by BC Historical News
RIVERBOATS ON THE COLUMIA RIVER NEAR GOLDEN
Riverboats in the Golden Area The far upper Columbia River’s steamboat era lasted thirty-four years from 1886 to 1920. The area traveled was from Golden on the Columbia River down to Columbia Lake across Canal Flats and down the Kootenay to Jennings, Montana. This covered a distance of over three hundred miles.
In 1883, William Adolph Baillie-Grohman was granted a concession by the B.C. government to divert the floodwaters of the Kootenay River into the Columbia River, on the condition that he was to operate a steamer over the navigatable sections of the river and lake. Baillie-Grohman purchased from England a small cheap steamer named the Midge. Before he could begin, the Canadian Pacific Railway brought up a problem with the Canadian government; the proposed diverson would flood the rail grades that they had along the Columbia. It was then discovered that the B.C. government had no legal right to offer Baillie-Grohman such a concession, so construction began. Baillie-Grohman, built a store and a sawmill, work began, and several hundred Chinese were employed. By 1889, the canal was finished. It was 6700 by 45 feet wide and was equipped with one lock.
During the six years while the Canal project was being argued, a man named Captain Frank Armstrong was busy. In a few years he recorded a claim of three hundred and twenty acres on the east shore of the lake where the Columbia River begins. This spot was once marked Lakeview. He brought in seed potatoes from Montana by pack train. When this crop was harvested, he wanted to sell it in Golden, a busy C.P.R. construction town. Capt. Armstrong built a bateau from whip-sawed lumber. He then ordered a second hand engine from Montreal, which arrived in Golden on the C.P.R.’s first through train to Vancouver. So Armstrong whacked up a hull, installed the engine and on May 8, 1886, launched the first steamboat on the upper Columbia. He named this steamer The Duchess.
Capt. Armstrong headed The Duchess up the Columbia. News of her coming reached Lake Windermere. Five hundred First Nations were waiting to welcome the first steam canoe, and helped to haul it over the salmon flats on which it was stranded. When he did arrive in Golden, history claims Armstrong sold the potatoes for one hundred and forty dollars a ton. On its first season, The Duchess carried one hundred tons of freight and two hundred and twenty passengers.
Unruly settlers and a threatened Indian outbreak called for the N.W.M.P. So, at Golden, The Duchess loaded the Mounties, and oats for their horses and started for Wild Horse Creek. The Duchess became badly snagged near the Canyon Creek rapids. She sank, the passengers however, escaped but the cargo was lost. Machinery of the Duchess was recovered and went into a new steamer of the same name. It was built by a skilled Victoria boat builder, Alexander Watson. The steamship, The Cline took the stranded North West Mounted Police to Wild Horse Camp. The Cline had been made from a scow and the old engine off a Manitoba steam plow. The Cline sank near Spillimacheen, while a consignment of scarlet tunics, and a deckload of bright yellow oats made a colorful assortment floating down the river.
Meanwhile, Capt. Armstrong built another light draft boat, the Marion, to use in low water. Financial help came from Lady Adela Cochrane. She and her husband had a placer mine near Canal Flats. Advertisements for Captain Armstrong's Kootenay Mail Line soon appeared in newspapers from east to west, stating that the steamers, Duchess and Marion, would leave Golden every Monday and Thursday for Windermere returning the next day.
In 1890, Capt. Armstrong, equipped a shallow boat with a primitive engine and small side wheels and christened her the Pert. In 1891, the Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway Co. were incorporated. The shareholders were the Cochranes, and Honorable Frank Lascelles, son of the Earl of Harewood. This new company laid a tramway from the Golden railroad depot to the steamboat landing on the Columbia River. A stretch of rails was laid across Canal Flats to the Kootenay. This company added another steamer, the Gwendoline, named after the daughter of the Earl of Stradbroke. When this boat was nearly finished, Capt. Armstrong decided to complete the construction in Golden. When he got the boat to Canal Flats, he found he could not use the canal. Having to dismantle the vessel, set the hull on rollers, he then had to haul her across the flats. At Golden he made her into a staunch ship, took her up the Columbia and put her through the locks that had been repaired.
American Steamboat Liners were operating out of Libby and Jennings, Montana on the Kootenay River. Armstrong organized an American subsidiary of the Columbia Navigation Co. A fine stern wheeler, christened "Ruth" after Armstrong's daughter, was built at Libby. There was an urgent demand for freight service to supply mining camps and take out the ore. The completion of the B.C. Southern Railway reduced the status of an all Canadian route to the East Kootenay mining camps to that of purely a transportation line. The Duchess and Hyak were kept in operation in 1898. The Pert was sold to Capt. Alexander Blakley. In 1899, H.E. Foster brought the small stern wheeler, the Selkirk, from Kamloops and launched her at Golden. Capt. Blakley rebuilt the Pert and operated her as “the City of Windermere” to tow logs in 1899.
In 1897, the Upper Columbia Navigation Tramway lost its mail subsidiary but discovered that settlers still persisted in their habit of flagging down a boat to hand over a letter for posting in Golden. To discourage this nuisance, the company printed stamps marked “U. of C. 5 c” in a wreath of red leaves. This was to be affixed to letters in addition to Dominion postage. Only a few were sold, however, when the government notified the company to cease.
In 1898, the Fort Steele boom faded and the prospectors went to the Klondike. In 1899, after the Gwendoline was wrecked, Capt. Armstrong left for the Yukon to command a steamer on Tagish Lake. He returned in 1900, to find mining reviving in the Upper Columbia. Capt. Armstrong bought a wrecked steamer from the United States called The North Star.. In June of 1902 Armstrong brought the boat to the Kootenay side of Canal Flats. He and his crew set to preparing the canal that had been abandoned for eight years. The North Star was nine inches too wide for the gates. Armstrong had to cut her guard rails. He attempted to hack down the gates but failed so he burned them off. Then with a mountain of ore sacks filled with sand, he constructed two dams, providing a lock long enough to float the vessel and strong enough to keep from “breaking the law” - and running wild into the Columbia.
Armstrong packed a charge of dynamite beneath the forward dam. He took his place in the wheelhouse. When the ship’s boiler began popping off some excess steam, he gave the word, “Let her go.” The North Star churned ahead into the waters of the Columbia Lake, amid splinters of falling debris. The North Star got through to Golden on July 2. After one season of hauling ore and settlers, she was seized by the Canadian Customs at Golden and impounded as an American vessel on which duty had not been paid. She lay fallow at Golden for the next decade, when her hull was cut in half and the pieces used as freight barges.
The steamboat era was fading. Construction work on the Kootenay Central Railway south from Golden through Canal Flats brought about only temporary revival of river freighting. The completion of the railroad, however, put a complete end to the short lived revival. It was fitting that the last commercial voyage of the steamboat in this part of the river found Capt. Armstrong at the wheel. It was on May 20, 1920, with the vessel, Nowitka, he made his last and final trip down the Columbia. On this voyage, the boat tore loose a telephone line that was illegally spanning the river and put the entire system out of order. Capt. Armstrong had been in charge of the first boat and the last boat to grace the Columbia River. He died three years later in the Vancouver General Hospital.