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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A history of Revelstoke and the Big Bend Bilsland, William Winstanely


In the writing of this thesis I have attempted to outline the history of the region lying within what is known as the Big Bend of the Columbia River north of the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway and west of the summit of the Selkirk Range. The work is intended to be an historical study of an area which white men first penetrated in search of furs and later used as an overland means of access to the Crown Colony of British Columbia. I have tried to explain why and how the area first became known. Then I discuss the mining activities in the Big Bend in the 1860’s and subsequent years, and go on to portray the most important single event in Revelstoke’s history, the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880's. In the 1890’s the activities of the railway company, lumbering and mining in the vicinity of Revelstoke led to the incorporation of the town as a city. Since 1899 the city and surrounding region have endured periods of rapid growth and eras of recessions and depressions causing a slowing of the rate of development. I have tried to depict the history of the city and area as they grew in population, concentrating on the major aspects of Revelstoke's past, the transportation, mining and logging industries. I have also attempted to outline the growth of the Revelstoke community in the political, social and economic fields. Finally, I have tried to summarize by explaining what Revelstoke is today, and how the city has become what it is. This thesis is primarily intended as a local history study, a small contribution to the general knowledge of the history of British Columbia. I consider that many such studies as this one are essential before properly trained historians will be able to produce competent, scholarly works on the major aspects of the political, social and economic history of the province of British Columbia.

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