By Laura Stovel
A stroll along the streets of downtown Revelstoke offers glimpses into the city’s past as museum-style photographs and interpretive panels hang in empty storefront windows, providing an historical walking tour for history lovers.
At 113 Second Street East, for example, walkers can enjoy scenes of the sturdy steamboats that plied the Columbia River until at least the late 1940s. In one photo, a crowd waits expectantly to board a steamboat at the dock where the current golf course is. The viewer can almost feel the excitement of the day.
The windows of the City storage building at 203 Fourth Street West, next to the fire hall, show that Revelstoke once had a smelter, a brewing company, a Chinese laundry and an arena near the current Community Centre.
The exhibit is an initiative of the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce and was funded by Columbia Basin Trust and Kootenay
Rockies Tourism. Chamber of Commerce members were concerned about empty storefronts so the organization created the Windows of Opportunity project to “bring interest to these spaces,” said Chamber executive director Judy Goodman.
“We are very pleased with the results and would like to thank our partners for funding and sharing their creativity to complete this project,” Goodman said. “Our ultimate goal is to fill these spaces with new businesses. In the meantime our residents and visitors can enjoy sharing our history!”
Cathy English, curator of the Revelstoke Museum and Archives, wrote the text panels and chose the images, which are all from the museum collection. The images were chosen to reflect “the location or some of the historic stories we wanted to tell,” she said.
The image next to Revelstoke Cable at 418 Second Street West, for example, shows that the cable company building, “which is seen as a fixture of the downtown area” was actually moved from the land that became Mountain View School, about a block west of its current location. “All you needed was a couple of horses and a pole to move a building,” she said, with only slight exaggeration.
One of English’s favorite photos, located at the City storage building on 4th Street West, shows boaters on the Columbia River. The image looks up at the river bank on the Revelstoke side, showing the old arena on the far left. “There is so much going on on the river bank. The more you look at the picture the more you can see,” she said.
“Revelstoke is a community that appreciates and celebrates its heritage and this is another opportunity to do that,” English said.
The exhibits can be found throughout the downtown area from Victoria Avenue to Fourth Street. They deliberately deviate from the popular Mackenzie Avenue and First Street West strips to encourage walkers to explore other parts of downtown Revelstoke.
The exhibits are located at:
301 and 415B Victoria Avenue;
300 First Street West;
204 and 208 First Street East;
418 Second Street West;
113 and 109 Second Street East;
218 Orton Avenue; and
203 Fourth Street West.