By David F. Rooney
We know very little about the 58 men who died in a single avalanche 100 years ago this week.
We know their names and where they came from: Japan, Ireland, Wales, England and other European countries. We know they worked long, hard hours on the Canadian Pacific Railway and that many, perhaps even all, left behind families here and in their home countries to mourn their loss. (Click here to read brief profiles of the men who died.)
We also know that none of them left descendents who stayed in Revelstoke. The names of a few men, such as Mazur and Carlson, are familiar for they are carried by locals today but they are not directly related.
And yet despite that paucity of knowledge, that lack of direct kinship and the distance in time that separates us from the men on that long-ago work crew, the echo of the avalanche that killed them still rumbles through our community.
The weather cycle that created the conditions allowing the snow to thunder down the slope in Rogers Pass and bury them is familiar to people who live here. So familiar, in fact, that when a Revelstokian talks about avalanche conditions in March, the events of March 4, 1910, always loom like a shadow in the background. It’s not surprising then, that the victims of that long-ago snow slide will be commemorated in a special memorial service at Grizzly Plaza this Thursday at 7 p.m. just as they were a century ago. (Your can see a copy of the original memorial service pamphlet below.) And at a series of events in August, all of them, including this week’s service, sponsored by the Revelstoke Museum & Archives, Parks Canada, the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Revelstoke Railway Museum, the Friends of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Park and the Canadian Avalanche Centre.
This week’e service will blend Christian and Japanese Buddhist traditions and bring together a few of the descendents of the men on that work crew, including Julie Lawson, whose grandfather John Anderson survived the avalanche and members of the Yamaji family from Japan, descendents of avalanche victim Mannosuke Yamaji.
With music by the Community Choir, Saskia Overbeek, Darrel Delaronde and Krista Stovel, remarks by Mayor David Raven, Japanese Consul Yoichi Ikeda and National Park Superintendent Karen Tierney, special presentations and the firing of a howitzer in tribute to the dead, this will be remarkable event.
Come be a part of it.
Click here to see the Commemoration Program for the 1910 Rogers Pass Snow Slide Memorial Service in PDF format: https://legacy.revelstokecurrent.com//wp-content/uploads/2010/03/online-memorial-service.pdf