Preamble: I’m taking a a break on regular posts from January through March, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting things to read!
In lieu of regular content, I’m highlighting some of my favorite primary source materials from the last three years. Read a little, read a lot, skip through and look at the photos, it’s up to you! These are all online, so you don’t even have to venture outside into the cold.
Regular posts will resume in April.
This week I’m sharing a series of short pamphlets, all published before the First World War, and all having in common the goal of attracting some kind of economic investment to the Windermere Valley.
These all should be read in the context of the pre-war practice of boosterism, in which local businessmen and community leaders used their influence and connections to secure investment from outside sources and promote development projects, all under the air of optimism that their geographic region had the potential for unbridled greatness. As a general rule, boosters were more interested in attracting investment than being entirely truthful, so brace yourself for some over-the-top enthusiasm.
Athalmer: “the vale of Cashmere”
Including photos of what sure seems to be every single building in Athalmer at the time, this pamphlet was intended to paint Athalmer as the thriving economic hub of the area. From what I can tell from context, photos for this pamphlet were likely taken through the summer of 1911, with the pamphlet itself published in early 1912.
The title of this pamphlet takes a bit of explaining. Back in 1817, an Oriental romance called Lalla Rookh was published by Thomas Moore, consisting of four narrative poems and prose telling the story of the fictional daughter of a 17th century Mughal emperor. The work is credited for making the geographic region of Kashmir (spelt Cashmere in the poem) a household term in English society, where it was understood to refer to some kind of paradise.
If you read the text of this pamphlet, you will notice that one of the testimonials compares Athalmer directly with the valley known as the Vale of Kashmir, located in northern India – the implication being that Athalmer was also a kind of paradise.
Even if you’re not at all interested in the jingoistic text, this pamphlet is worth it for the photos. Be sure to also flip all the way through to take a look at the advertisements at the back (the recently re-named Coronation Hotel had a “bar and barber shop in connection”).
I’ve also got a post about Athalmer if you want to read more about that.
Athalmer, “the vale of Cashmere” is freely available through UBC’s online collections, and can be found here: https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.037957
Fruit Lands in the beautiful Windermere Valley
This in one of the earliest pamphlets I’ve seen related to various local schemes to turn the Windermere Valley into an orcharding oasis. Seeing the success of fruit farming over in the Okanagan, boosters in the Windermere Valley were inspired by the prospect of a similar project here, and large companies were formed to build irrigation systems and convince (primarily English) immigrants to come and enjoy life as gentlemen farmers. Or at least that was the plan.
This slim pamphlet is heavy on text, taking a rational fact-based approach to attracting immigrants, with itty bitty little photos to occasionally liven things up. It was issued by the Columbia Valley Irrigated Fruit Lands Ltd (CVIF), which portrayed investing in company lands up on the Toby Benches as a fail safe prospect with fertile land, bountiful crops, and a sure and steady market with local mines and the nearby prairies (via the as yet incomplete Kootenay Central Railway).
This is boosterism at its most academic, so prepare yourself to be painstakingly convinced. Or, you know, flip through and zoom way in for the photos (no judgement here). It’s also rather fascinating to contrast this pamphlet with the next one – a slightly later iteration from the same company.
Fruit Lands in the beautiful Windermere Valley is also available through UBC’s online collections, and can be found here: https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0379578
When reading interviews or reminiscences of later Windermere Valley residents who were convinced to immigrate in the years directly before the First World War to take up fruit farming, some of them refer to seeing a particularly colourful and attractive publication in England that prompted their decision to move across the pond. This is the likely pamphlet they are referring to.
The text of the Windermere BC pamphlet is a reprint of an article written by Robert Randolph Bruce and published in the magazine The Field. It paints a very rosy picture of life in the “Happy Valley”, which fits in well with the full page colour illustrations of an idyllic mountain life. There are graceful sailboats, neat farmhouses, looming mountains and trees heavy with apples.
This pamphlet is an excellent example of how land promoters at the time weren’t just selling property; they were selling a lifestyle, one in which immigrants could enjoy a life of plenty with an intriguing splash of adventure: “The valley is just in the making, and now there is all the fun of helping to make it.”1
If you can figure out where exactly the painting on page 12 is supposed to be, let me know – no matter how many times I look at it I can’t place it.
Windermere B.C., in all its glory, is available through UBC’s online collections, and can be found here: https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0354861
Columbia Valley Orchards: Apples and Alfalfa
The Toby Benches wasn’t the only fruit growing haven being advertised in the years before the First World War. The Columbia Valley Orchards, located up around their newly built company town of Edgewater, was also issuing literature.
This relatively brief pamphlet takes a fairly conservative approach to advertising, including factual information alongside testimonials, as well as photos of the general area and of the Company’s operations. Those photos remain very rare for the area and the time period, and are definitely worth a look!
To read more about what was happening in Edgewater, as well as probably my most succinct summary on what was going on with this whole orcharding trend in the Valley, definitely take a look at my post on Edgewater.
Columbia Valley Orchard Ltd is another offering on UBC’s online collections, and can be found here: https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0379569
Posts related to the Columbia Valley Irrigated Fruit Lands Company, up in Wilmer/Invermere, include:
John Murray Gibbon
Posts related to Columbia Valley Orchards Ltd up in Edgewater include:
William Henry Gaddes
My mother collected taped stories of the settlers of Edgewater, wonderful âbrogues,â including Leonardâs recounts,
That’s awesome! Do you still have those taped stories?