Goldie Creek (flows East into Windermere Lake near North end), Mount Goldie (Headwaters of Goldie Creek)
Underscoring the image of George Goldie as a cheerful and jolly individual is an undercurrent of allegations of misconduct that are never satisfactorily explained.
Content warning: some of the descriptions in this post get graphic
George Goldie was born in Quebec on Christmas Day in either 1832 or 1833. I was unable to find any trace of the first five decades of his life, but an author in 1889 reported that Goldie at one time lived in Hamilton, Ontario.1 His obituary states that he fought during the American Civil War and lived for a number of years in Virginia.2 I was unable to verify either of these accounts. The first reasonably verifiable account of Goldie comes in 1888 upon his departure from Québec to British Columbia.3
Early Years in the Windermere Valley
Goldie arrived in the Windermere Valley in 1888, and by 1889 was acting as deputy postmaster and storekeeper in Windermere.4 A newspaper report later suggested that Goldie came to the area of present-day Cranbrook in association with the Baker family and went to the Windermere area following his work there.5
Goldie was appointed as a Justice of the Peace for the County of Kootenay, living in Windermere, on 13 February 1889.6 A few years later, on 1 July 1892, he was appointed as the first Mining Recorder in the newly formed Windermere Mining Division.7 From at least 1893 until 1899, Goldie was being paid as both the mining recorder and constable based out of Windermere.8
In a traveller’s encounter with Goldie in 1889, Goldie, “Appeared to be quite jolly, as of old, and contended with his lot. His greeting was cordial and pleasant.”9 When Goldie left the valley in 1900, “everyone seemed to think that they were not only losing a person or friend, but a man who had shared their hopes and fears for long years and who had ever been attentive to his business and ready to assist the mining man and prospector.”10
A Darker Side
This cheery side of George Goldie and his time in the Valley contrasts with a darker undercurrent and allegations of misconduct that are never satisfactorily explained. The most serious of these is brought forward in a Letter to the Editor written 7 June 1894 by W.G.B. (William George Bott).
In this letter, the author describes an incident from the summer of 1893, related to him by Charles Kinbasket of the Shuswap First Nation. Charles was bringing cattle south from Golden when, just before Radium Hot Springs:
As the Kootenays put the blame on Goldie the author goes on to call for a full inquiry into the matter, arguing that, “If he gave no such order for the Kootenays to flog the Shuswaps, it is only fair that he should be cleared of the foul charge; if he did give such an order he went far beyond his limits and deserves a taste of the same prescription.”12 In an earlier description of the same incident, the actions of the Kootenays were, “believed to have been instigated by a white trader jealous of seeing their trade passing him.”13 This earlier account does not point out Goldie by name, but as Goldie was involved in trade it is possible.
I have tried unsuccessfully to find further record of this incident, but if any paper trail still exists it is likely buried in an archives somewhere. It would be interesting to do a more thorough investigation. In a strange twist to the story, three years later Goldie “kindly promised” a gift of a new bell for the new church on the Shuswap Reserve (recall that members of the Shuswap First Nations were allegedly tortured on orders from Goldie).14
Further, far less serious allegations were also made against Goldie. In one, Alfred Mitchell of Fortress Ranch near Spillimacheen accused Goldie of wasting money by insisting on sending a man from Windermere north to the Spillimacheen area to clear logs off the road when local ranchers were willing and eager to do the work.15 A couple of years later, an enquiry was held in Windermere with a charge that Goldie had used his official knowledge (as Mining Recorder) to further his interests. That charge, “was entirely refuted and subsequently withdrawn.”16
Goldie’s departure from the Windermere Valley was also sudden and under somewhat mysterious circumstances. In June 1900, Goldie was reported as planning to build a residence in Windermere across from the Recording Office.17 Then, in October of that year, it was suddenly announced that he was being transferred to Fort Steele, with John Bullman taking his place in the Windermere position.18 At the farewell dinner held for Goldie, there was dissatisfaction among the residents that, “Their friend [Goldie] was being sent away in a most discourteous manner and they were there to show their condemnation of such a policy.”19
Goldie’s transfer to Fort Steele was somewhat of a demotion: he went from the position of Mining Recorder to that of a clerk under the Mining Recorder, although his salary was unchanged.20 The reasons for the sudden reassignment are never explained.
Goldie remained popular with many of the settlers in the Windermere Valley and beyond. As Goldie had lived for over a decade in the Windermere Valley at that point he was regarded as, “a thorough old timer.”21 In 1901 he is described as, “a gentleman who tells a good story and enjoys a good story, and is the most companionable individual.”22
After a few years as a clerk in the Mining Recorder Office in Fort Steele, Goldie moved to Cranbrook where he worked at the Provincial Government Offices until about 1910, when he retired on a pension.23 Goldie passed away on 25 July 1912 in Cranbrook at age 79. In his obituary, Goldie is described as, “one of the most highly esteemed citizen in this district, having a host of friends who will sincerely regret his demise. The flags at the Government building was placed at half-mast as a token of respect to the deceased.”24
The name Goldie Creek first appears in newspapers in 1899 and soon became well-established.25 I found no record as to whether Goldie had a special association with the creek, or what events led to it being so named. Mount Goldie was likely named from its position at the head of Goldie Creek.
I would say the letter was written by William George Bott, who Botts Channel is named after. He wrote a lot of letters.
I would say the initials WGB stand for William George Botts, he liked to write letters. He lived in the Brisco area at the time. Botts channel is named after him.
Brilliant! I recognize the name just didn’t make the connection. Thank you!