“Our court house is more than just a building”

By David F. Rooney

“Our court house is more than just a building,” MC Meghan MacIsaac said at the opening of the simple ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the laying of the court house cornerstone on Wednesday afternoon.

Back in 1912, the court house symbolized not only the administration of justice and wide sweep of civilization, but Revelstoke’s true arrival on the provincial scene. We had an opera house and, as Mayor David Raven noted, we were the centre for gold mining, logging, farming, steamboat navigation and the railway in those heady years before the First World War. The court house was as much an expression of hope for the future as it was anything else, he said, adding that, like the mayor of the day. he has high hopes for the city’s future.

Here are some images from the Wednesday afternoon ceremony:

Parks, Recreation and Culture Department programmer Meghan MacIsaac shares a few quips with the official party gathered at the Court House for the 100th anniversary of the laying of its corner stone. About 180 people gathered on the lawn in front of the historic building to mark the moment. You can actually make out the cornerstone five masonry rows above the head of Helen Grace, who is seated on the right.Fortunately, it was a sunny, albeit cool, day and not rainy as the weather forecasts had predicted. David F. Rooney photo
Here's a close-up view of the cornerstone. The granite block is a time capsule, of sorts. It contains a number of items people of the day considered important. "As part of the ceremony, several items were placed inside the cavity of the cornerstone," said Revelstoke Museum Curator Cathy English. "The contents were a copy of the Grand Masonic Lodge of B.C. proceedings for 1911; a copy of the Mail-Herald newspaper of May 1, 1912; a list of the members of the Grand Lodge assisting in the laying of the cornerstone; four Canadian silver coins in the denominations of 50 cents, 25 cents, 10 cents and 5 cents; a list of the Cabinet Ministers of the Province of B.C.; a list of the court house staff at Revelstoke; program of the day’s proceedings; and a list of the names of the Mayor and Council of the City of Revelstoke." David F. Rooney photo
MC Meghan MacIsaac addresses the crowd of about 180 people who gathered on the court house lawn for the commemoration event. "This building is more than just a court house," she said. The building represents the hopes of all the people who preceded us in this place. David F. Rooney photo
RCMP Const. Dave Segers salutes as Capt. Miken Rienks and MCpl Xena Tilden raise the flag. The flag raised back in 1912 would have been the imperial one — the Royal Union Jack. The Canadian Red Ensign existed at the time but was used only by merchant ships until 1945 when it became the national emblem. It was replaced in 1965 by the red and white made-in-Canada maple leaf flag. The original Rocky Mountain Rangers were formed as a civilian militia to defend the western frontier against incursions from the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. They consisted of cowboys and ranchers from both British Columbia and Alberta. There is, however, no official lineage between the 1885 militia unit and the current Rocky Mountain Rangers regiment; the connection is in name only. The Regiment finds its roots in the creation of a number of independent rifle companies in the interior of British Columbia in 1898. Some of those men served in the Boer War. These rifle companies were later amalgamated to form the Regiment of Rocky Mountain Rangers in 1908. The regiment served and fought honourably in both world wars, the Korean War and the Afghan war. Its members have also served as peacekeepers in Cyprus and the former Yugoslavia. David F. Rooney photo
As the flag is being raised, Sharon Shook leads the crowd in singing that now-rarely heard song, The Maple Leaf Forever. Written by Alexander Muir (1830–1906) in 1867, the year of Confederation. He wrote the work after serving with the Queen's Own Rifles of Toronto in the Battle of Ridgeway against the Fenians in 1866. Detested in Quebec, it was very popular in English Canada and served as the unofficial national anthem. The official party behind Sharon include, from left to right, MC Meghan MacIsaac, Ralph Kernaghan, whose grandfather, John Kernaghan was a well-known local builder in 1912, Government Agent Erich Breitkreuz from Salmon Arm, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Palmer, Mayor David Raven, lawyer Robert Lundberg and Helen Grace whose grandfather, T.W. Bradshaw, was the CPR freight agent and secretary of schools in Revelstoke. David F. Rooney photo
Cadets of the Rocky Mountain Rangers salute the flag as it rises into the sky. The Rangers were present at the original ceremony 100 years ago, as were representatives of many other organizations such as the Masons. Representatives of the Masons, Elks, Knights of Pythias and other service organizations were present for Wednesday's ceremony, where music was provided by the Community Band, just as their forerunners did 100 years ago. David F. Rooney photo
John Baker (right) led the Community Band, whose history goes back as far back as the beginning of Revelstoke. Only one of the musicians with the band, Elaine Baird, is related to someone who we know was at the original ceremony in 1912. Baird (that's her fourth from the right) is related to the Pradolini Brothers who built many of the city's homes and buildings, including the court house. David F. Rooney photo
Helen Grace and Sharon Shook, all decked out like the ladies of 1912, pose to have their picture taken. Helen remembered that her "grandparents arrived here in 1896 and lived in an official house, a two storey wooden one on CPR Hill. It was painted CPR red." David F. Rooney photo
Clouds float above the court house at the end of Wednesday afternoon's simple ceremony. David F. Rooney photo

Please click here to read a previous story about this event and see 100-year-old photos of the original laying of the cornerstone.

Please click here to read Revelstoke Museum Curator Cathy English’s story about the original laying of the cornerstone in 1912.