Arrow Lake Indians – a visit by Agent Galbraith

Robert L.T. Galbraith was an Indian agent stationed at Fort Steele, near Cranbrook, B.C. in the early 1900s. He frequently made trips through the area to check on the status of the First Nation families that lived along the Columbia River and into the Arrow Lakes. This report on his venture through Trail was published in the Trail Creek News, April 26, 1902.

R.L.T. Galbraith, of Fort Steele, Indian agent for East and West Kootenay, was an interesting visitor to Trail this week. He was here for the purpose of vaccinating the Indians opposite Trail, on the east side of the Columbia River, and to persuade them not to cross the line or mingle with the Indians of the Colville reservation, where danger of smallpox exits.

He traveled up the Columbia River, past the present site of Trail 30 years ago. Mr. Galbraith visited the various camps along the river and Arrow Lakes with a view to ascertaining the condition of those Indians in this vicinity. He found that the families who had made this neighborhood their home for several years were in a fairly prosperous condition and were making a good very living by hunting and fishing, and also, by acting as guides to tourists who come to the country for a season’s outing.

In visiting camps opposite Trail, he found the Indians well supplied with food, neatly dressed and their families free from sickness. He vaccinated all who required it and urged them to mix, in no way, with the Indians south of the line, as he is anxious that they shall not acquire the evil habits of liquor, prevalent among the larger communities of the Colville reservation.

Mr. Galbraith always has a confidential talk with those under his charge. They know him well and are disposed to appreciate the fact that he comes to look after their welfare. He impressed them with the necessity of observing the laws of the country, especially in the matter of game, and pointed out to them that it was as much in their interest that the laws were passed as to the white man.

When he visited the Indians located near Fire Valley (Inonoaklin/Edgewood area) he found that they had extensively cultivated their gardens and planted many fruit trees. Those in that locality had been free from sickness and had made an excellent living by hunting.

Before returning to Forte Steele, he will call on the little band located at the mouth of the Kootenay.

The history of the Arrow Lake Indians is interesting. In the early days there was a tribe or small band known as the Fort Sheppard Indians, located at Fort Sheppard, and made the old Hudson Bay fort their headquarters. After the closing of the post (1870), these Indians scattered, some going to the Colville reservation and others to Okanagan, and were absorbed by those bands. Those remaining on the river are the remnants of a band which made Arrow Lakes and vicinity their hunting ground. They are most desirous of having a small reservation set apart for them south and east of Burton City and Mr. Galbraith will place the matter before the Indian department and the provincial government and endeavour to have their request complied with. They trap martin, fisher, beaver, wolverine, coyote, mink and mountain lion, generally understood to belong to the cougar tribe.

This year, the returns have not been as plentiful as previously, but prices have been excellent: a martin skin bringing from $10 to $15, which is five times as much as originally. The average price in Hudson Bay days was $3. At the time, they counted money in skins, with the beaver as the basis of value. The price of a full grown beaver was $2, which was called a  skin. A martin was worth a skin and a half, or $3. A bear was two skins and a half, or $5. This was the highest value and so it was that they traded their skins for provision, clothing and ammunition.

The last trader at old Fort Sheppard was Mr. Hardisty, who left the Hudson Bay service and is now private secretary to Lord Strathcona.

In discussing his visit, Mr. Galbraith said that the aim of the Indian department was to make the Indians self-supporting, but should one become destitute through sickness or any other cause, the department through agents, provides them with food, medicine and attendance. Seeds are given from time to time and where the Indians are unable to provide farming implements, plows and harrows are given them to assist in the cultivation of the ground. These improvements are supplied through Mr. Galbraith’s investigation.

In his agency, are some 600 Indians, about 25 of whom are located along the Columbia River. The majority of these Indians are able to speak English, but the language spoken among themselves is that of the Shuswaps.

In most cases the older ones do not know their age. Mr. Galbraith intends asking the Rev. Father Welsh of Rossland to occasionally look after the spiritual welfare of the Indians in this locality. They are all loyal and devoted to their country and have great respect for the ”laws of King George” as they put it.

Reprinted in 100 Years of Trail History, published in 2001 by the Trail Daily Times.

Quips from Trail Creek News 1912

May 11, 1912                                                                                                           Murder on Slocan

The body of Peter Winstaley, a rancher, was found partly in the cellar of his house, located about four miles up the Slocan River from Slocan Junction, on Sunday. Winstaley had been murdered by means of heavy rocks, with which the assassin fractured his skull and inflicted wounds in several places.

The murder took place, probably on Friday evening, near a little stream 100 yards from the house, and the body was afterwards dragged to the house, and placed on some steps leading to the cellar. The murderer broke open a window and gained access to the house and ransacked it, scattering the contents of trunks and other receptacles over the floor. Valuable articles left in the house suggest that it was money only that the assassin wanted. Winstaley was a Lancashire man, age 36 years.

March 20, 1912                                                                                                          Police Court

In the police court last Saturday, V. Kavcic was assessed $10.00 and costs for an assault. B. Semenoe, for using insulting language, contributed $15.00 and costs, also $15.00 and costs for assault.

On Wednesday, P. Amicorelli charged with the theft of tools at the smelter, was assessed $10.00 and costs. D. Salicicioli, charged with receiving stolen property; was dismissed.

May 11, 1912                                                                                                                 For sale – A snap – House and lot in the Gulch for $375.00. Good terms. – Apply J. R. Randall or T. McKelvey.

August 31, 1912                                                                                                        MORE LIKE NEW YORK EVERY DAY                                                                        Trail Has a Gambling Sensation – City Collects $1070.00 in Fines

The past week has been one of the most sensational in Trail for many years, and as a result of the disclosures the city coffers have been enriched considerably over $1,000. Gambling has been going on apace for the past two months and th whole affair culminated in police court proceedings on Thurday.

It was real classy gambling too for a burg like Trail, and $500 and $600 losses by individuals in an evening were frequent.

C.C. Bushnell was one of the heaviest losers, and gave the snap away by turning king’s evidence, and was used as the main witness for the prosecution.

Mike Bishock and chief Downes also give evidence for the prosecution. E.S. H. Winn was cousel for the prosectuiton, while C.F.R. Pincott acted for the defence. Magistrate Binns adjudicated on the various cases as follows:

John Petroni Jr., keeping a common gaming house at the Kootenay Hotel, $100; three charges of gambling, $50 on each charge.

M.F. Goodrich, keeping a common gaming house at the Dominion Hotel, $100; two charges of gambling, $50 on each charge.

James Williamson, allowing one game stud poke in Arlington Hotel, $50; oncharge gambling, $50.

Trav. Latham, two charges of gambling, $75 each.

Frank Cassello, one charge gambling, $50

John Oposkie, one charge of gambling $50

Mike Bishock, one charge of gambling, $50

Mike Obradovich pleaded guilty to one charge of gambling, 420.

Kenneth Grant, four charges of gambling, $50 each charge.

The case of Dan Martinelli, charged with gambling, was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Monday is Labour Day and a public holiday. The baseball boys, the band and a number of citizens will go to Salmo and help the boys in the mining camp celebrate.

Rossland is also holding a big celebration under the auspices of the Conservative Association, and a special train will leave Trail at 8:30 a.. returning after the dance. Round trip, adults 55 c., children 30 c. Trail football team will play in Rossland.

The time we saw the devil from under the bed at Lolly’s house

The Johnson house was probably the biggest house on our street. Two storeys high, the upper floor was an apartment. My friends, Lolly and Dina lived on the main floor.

The Johnson girls were both older than me, and Dina was a bit of a bully (see the Haunted Shack) but they lived just a few doors down from mine and within my allotted play radius.

In those dinosaur days before TV, internet and on-line games, we had to use our imaginations to make up games. We’d play Cowboys and Indians, Tag, Hide-and-Seek, Kick-the-Can, jump rope, Hop-scotch – basically anything that involved just our bodies, our minds and whatever we could think up.

It must have been in the fall. We were all getting hyped about Halloween.

The air had a chill to it; leaves and seed pods from the catalpa trees would blow in the wind and doors and windows would be closed tight to keep out oncoming winter. (Have you ever noticed how quiet a street can get once that happens? In summer, when everyone is outside and homes are open, there’s always the sound of people: laughter, yelling, talking, bumps and noises of mother’s cooking dinner, fathers and brothers tinkering in the yard. But come fall, it all quietens down.)

It had to have been a Saturday. We weren’t in school and our parents weren’t home.

Eternally banished to play outside, we’d come inside the Johnson house as it had started to rain and no one was home.

Lolly’s mother had gone shopping and left the older sister Dina in charge. But Dina had disappeared with her own friends leaving Lolly with me, her younger brothers, my cousin Barry and two or three others.

We’d started off innocent enough, playing Tag or something equally mundane. When we got bored, we gathered in Lolly’s bedroom and started making up stories, which soon turned to ghost stories.

It started to get dark, and because of the massive porch on the south-facing front of the house, little light filtered into the house. But that was OK. We kept the lights off because the darkness was somehow exhilarating.

It was getting late in the day and everyone knew they should be going home. But we hadn’t heard the Yellaphone (see the Haunted Shack again) so figured there was time for one more story.

Just as one of the tall tales was reaching a climax, we heard a sound coming from the living room.

“Did you hear something?” Lolly said.

“You’re just trying to scare us,” said one of the boys.

“I’m not,” she insisted.

Then we all heard it – a noise, like a creaking door.

“Shhh! Someone’s in the house,” Lolly said.

As quick and silently as we could, we scurried under the bed, hearts beating so loud, we were sure the intruder could hear us.

We listened.


Someone was moving around the living room.

We snuggled closer to each other, trying not to breathe.

From under the bed, we had a clear line of site into the kitchen. We watched as grey pants and black shoes passed the doorway, turned and walked back to the living room.

We could hear him – picking up papers, moving chairs.

Barry decided to have a look. He slid out on his stomach from under the bed and peeked around the door.

Just then, the man turned and spotted Barry on the floor.

What happened next is, well, I’m not really sure.

But Barry swears the man flashed fire-red eyes at him and then vanished.

At that very moment, a smell like nothing I could describe permeated through the house. To this day, I can remember it. I didn’t know then what it was, but when I grew up and remembered it, I could only describe it as something like hot ammonia.

I don’t know how long we lay there, frozen on the floor. But we were relieved to hear the kitchen door open and the bumbling sounds of moving feet and grocery bags hitting the counter.

“Dina? You here?” Lolly’s mother yelled.

With that, we all ran for our lives – through the bedroom and out the door, not looking back.

As days and months wore on, the incident expanded and with each telling, more details were added. One intruder became two, then three, then a whole houseful of ghosts. We all had our own interpretation of what happened and I suppose, as we aged and came to our senses, we realized it was probably just someone who came to visit, and finding no one home, left again. After all, no one ever locked a door back in those days.

But I’ll never forget that smell.

I never told my mother about the incident not until decades later. (There were lots of stories I never shared with my mother like the time I fell through the ice at the river).

But one day we were having a chat about the old neighbourhood; and clear out of the blue, she said, “did you know the Johnson house was haunted?”

“You never told me that,” I said.

“Well, I didn’t want you to be scared, but it was only the upstairs part, anyway,” she said. “Old man Johnson lived up there. (That would be Dina and Lolly’s grandfather.)

“Back then, everyone had a coal/wood stove in the kitchen, and it was said that the old man had the habit of pissing into the fire. And after he died, on some nights, the smell of burning urine would permeate throughout the house.”

Her words hit me like a brick.

So THAT was the smell.

I quizzed her more about the old man and she said he was bad-tempered and hated kids.

Had he been meandering through the house on the day we’d been hiding under the bed?

I guess we’ll never really know.

But right into adulthood, Barry never changed his story. He swore he saw a man with red eyes.




National Corvette Caravan arrives in Bowling Green

Day 6 29 museumFinally, after the years of planning and the weeks of packing, traveling, eating out of gas station rest stops and sleeping in so many different beds, we arrived at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Photo shows a wall of Corvettes – a collage of thousands of small pictures made into one.

Day 6 9 MuseumThe first things we saw were displays of our favourite vehicles, offering participants a ride in a new one or the chance to win one of four. Unfortunately, Canadians couldn’t enter the draw. Well, they could, but they would have to take cash. Rules forbid Canadians from bringing a not-previously-owned vehicle across the border. Continue reading

Show me the way to Bowling Green

Day 6 drivers meetingIt was up at the crack of dawn for the 6 a.m. drivers meeting in Columbia, Missouri, before heading down the road again.Day 5 Missouri 4

Photo: our fearless leader, Gary Stephen from Calgary made sure we knew what we were doing, where we were going and how to get there every single morning of the trip.

We’d had a great stop in Columbia connecting with the Missouri-Kansas Caravan. The Mid-Missouri Corvette Club and Bob McCosh Chevrolet/GM  put on a smashing party with more (you guessed it) pulled pork sandwiches at the Missouri Auto Auction Facility. Service techs and parts people were on hand for anyone needing an oil change, tire service or anything else. Continue reading

History of the 1953 Corvette #003

Day 2 Resslers 18VIN # E53F001003

The 1953 Corvette #003, was virtually hand built at the Customer Delivery Garage in Flint, Michigan on July 1, 1953. The garage at Atherton and Van Slyke Avenue was converted to produce just 300 of the 1953 models and was known as GM Pilot Assembly. It arrived at the GM Technical Centre in Warren, Michigan, on July 7, 1953. Continue reading

Holy cornhuskers Batman – this must be Nebraska

Museum of American Speed

Jessie James gang Funeral Hearse

Museum of American Speed

Dale Zimmerman with Black Rose

Day 5 speed 4 Day 5 speed 5 Day 5 speed 6 Day 5 speed 7 Day 5 speed 8 Day 5 speed 9 Day 5 speed 12 Day 5 speed 13 Day 5 speed 14 Day 5 speed 19 Day 5 speed 22 Day 5 speed 29 Day 5 speed 30

In Lincoln, Nebraska, we visited the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed. Some of us were kinda “ho hum . . . great, another car museum.” But when we got there, we were wowed.

The museum was founded in 1992 by “Speedy” Bill Smith and his wife, Joyce. It’s dedicated to preserving, interpreting and displaying physical items significant to road racing. The museum encompasses over 135,000 feet on three levels all chalk full of specialty cars and auto memorabilia.

“The vast collection results from the Smiths’ personal involvement in racing and hot rodding for more than six decades, and their lifelong passion for collecting and preserving historic automotive artifacts,” according to the website.

We met the son, Carson Smith. He said his dad started the collection when he was a kid. He was enthralled by engine technology, noting that the engines of the day were not worth their weight tomorrow.

Smith spent millions of hours  “turning over rocks” and chasing countless leads to assemble a collection of this magnitude.

Only about one-third of this massive collection is on display, including a  stunning array of history-making cars, engines, parts, toys and memorabilia. There are countless rare and one-of-a-kind items, such as the world’s oldest peddle car (from 1891) plus over 600 lunch boxes – all presented in beautiful displays and dioramas that make you feel like you’ve stepped into the past!

(Photo left is Dan under the original sign from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.)

The weird car beside up top is the actual funeral hearse of Bob Younger of the Jesse James gang

Each member of the family collected their own chosen memorabilia – the son collected lunch boxes, the wife collected cookie jars. And there were other collections of movie posters, toys of all sizes and dimensions and anything at all car-related.

I had the pleasure of seeing the one and only Black Rose (besides my own) that I’m likely ever to see. There were only 11 of that colour made. Even met the owner, Dale Zimmerman, but he said I’d have to wait in a long line to buy it – and that’s only if he ever decided to sell.

On the road again:

We also visited the Arch Pioneer Museum in Kearney, Nebraska.

It’s amazing how you can live next door to someone your whole life and not really know much about them until one day you go inside their bathroom and look in the medicine cabinet. That’s how I felt when we stopped at the Arch. Although I’d visited the U.S. countless times, lived on the border and been saturated by American TV and movies, I never really “got it” until I came to this place.

The museum is a gi-normous arch that spans over the freeway and was built as a testament to the largest volunteer migration of people in history – the hundreds of thousands who ventured across the American plains to the west seeking a better life.

The museum shows their tenacity, endurance, grief and struggles in ways few stories have related it before. Kearney is the geographical centre of the United States and some guy raised millions to create this fabulous museum.

Driving through the desolate State of Wyoming, Nebraska is a bit of a relief. Definitely greener. And yes, they have miles and miles of corn, dotted periodically with green belts of soybeans.

(When I say Belt, I’m also talking Bible Belt – signage on the highway declaring God’s love and how one should get oneself saved before Jesus comes – they’re everywhere. And three out of four radio stations are Christian.)

At Lincoln we met up with the caravan from Northern California, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa as well as the Nebraska bunch. Now must be about 500 or 600 cars.

The local club held a party for us all at the Railyard – a refurbished downtown area (kind of like Gastown in Vancouver). We got together with some Spokane friends and had dinner at a Cajun restaurant. Dan had a plate that included alligator. I had catfish and a Bloody Mary made with bacon-infused vodka. (!?)  It was so spicy, however, I couldn’t drink it. Not something I’d order again, but was worth the experience.

After the Museum of American Speed, we carried on into Missouri.


The Colours of Corvette

Day 2

Day 2 Resslers 2National Corvette Caravan 2014

Torch Red, Lime Rock Green, Supersonic Blue, Crystal Red, Atomic Orange, Arctic White, Machine Silver, Cyber Grey, Le Mans Blue, Monterey Red, Velocity Yellow and (my personal favourite) Black Rose . . . the colours are as exotic and varied as any rainbow you can imagine. And by the time we got to Billings, Montana, there were dozens of every colour.

Day 2 Resslers garageThe highlight of the day was visiting Dave Ressler’s private Corvette museum in Bozeman, Montana. It is so secret, we were not told its location until the drivers’ meeting that morning. There was no address, no signs on the highway. We followed our leaders onto a circular driveway surrounding a lot the size of four football fields. To the side were several large buildings which house Ressler’s collection of 43 sparkling Corvettes – most of them never driven. (Ressler is the gazillionaire who owns most of the GM dealerships in Montana.) Continue reading

Corvette Caravan 2014


Day 1

The adventure begins.

It was a misty morning when we set off in our black-on-black 2007 C6 Corvette coupe from our home city of Trail, British Columbia (in Canada) to embark on a very long tour into the U.S. – first driving across B.C. to southern Alberta, then down into the U.S., heading south and east – all the way to Kentucky and Tennessee.

IMG_0140We first heard about this National Corvette Caravan some four years ago, shortly after purchasing our Corvette and getting involved with the Spokane Corvette Club. The Caravan happens once every five years and gathers cars from all over North America (8,000 to 10,000 of them) to converge on Bowling Green, Kentucky, birthplace of this most esteemed sports car. Bowling Green is the Mecca of Corvettes – not only home of the assembly plant but also home to the Corvette Museum. And since this is the 60th year since they started making Corvettes, the caravan is a pretty big deal. Its profile was raised earlier this year when a sink hole developed at the museum, engulfing five or six cars. Continue reading

Finding Ireland: a Primer for North American drivers

My friend, Barb Beck and her husband Vince, who live in Spokane, Wash.,  took a trip to Ireland in February 2014. Apart from the beautiful countryside, they found the high cost of eating out was bad enough, but driving there was “a total nightmare.” Here’s her diary:


Photo by Barb Beck

Day 1:  We left Spokane at about 7 a.m. on Feb. 3 on our way to Denver.  Denver is NOT my favorite airport at all  as it seems that every time I have to go through there somehow, I get delayed, and this time was no exception.  We got there and saw that there is a 2 1/2 hour delay to NYC because of the snow.  Originally, we were supposed to have a four-hour window in NYC to get from LaGuardia to JFK to fly to Dublin. I started calling Aer Lingus (Irish Airlines) to find out what we should do. They refered me to the travel agent that booked our trip.  The travel agent suggested that we re-book  for Tuesday night.  We finally took off for NYC and got there at 6:15, and still had a few hours.  It took 45 minutes to get our luggage at LaGuardia.  I once again called Aer Lingus and the agent re-booked us for Tuesday (out of the goodness of their heart with no fees involved). So… the time we got to JFK,  they tried to get us on our original flight but the gate was closed so now we had to spend an extra night in NYC, which meant missing our pre-booked one-night in Wicklow.  Continue reading