PIONEER ISSUES FACED BY PINCHER CREEK TOWN COUNCIL, EARLY 1910s
by Farley Wuth, Curator,
Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
Copyright, Pincher Creek & District Historical Society
Arlington Hotel owner William Reston Dobbie (1863 – 1921) served as Pincher Creek’s Mayor for four years up to 1914. Dobbie was elected by acclamation on Tuesday, August 24th 1910. He was assisted by Councillors Charles Kettles, R. O. Allison, Wallace G. Askey, Mills, Williamson and Thomas H. Scott. A variety of business, ranching and North West Mounted Police interests were well represented by the community’s leadership.
Dobbie’s Arlington Hotel was a significant landmark on the north side of Main Street for six decades. It was constructed circa 1890 and added to some fourteen years later. Featured on the main floor was a dining room and bar with accommodations on the second level. An innovation of the early 1900s was that the Arlington was serviced by running water and flush toilets. William and Margaret Dobbie resided in a two-and-a half storey house built in 1912 – its south hill location was a block from the Town’s administrative offices.
The busy pre-First World War municipal schedule saw six committees of Town Council appointed in January 1912. One dealing with Parks and Cemeteries had a membership of Councilors Allison, Matheson and Harwood. Additional committees dealt with finance, public works, police and relief, market and health in addition to fire, water and light.
VAST ARRAY OF CIVIC IMPROVEMENTS
Civic improvements oft dominated the municipal issues during the early 1910s. Councilor Allison reported in 1914 that he had been informed by the Pincher Creek Public School officials that they had an extra quantity of fill that could be used by the Town. Recent renovations to the two-storey school, constructed a dozen years earlier in 1902, included digging out more space in its cellar, most likely used for storage. The structure was located on St. John’s Avenue and just over a block away, in front of a set of businesses on Main Street, was a hollow that acted as a gathering spot for water during every storm. Civic officials were pleased to accept this donation with their thanks being publicly offered.
Electric light poles had been in place for years down in the old English sub-division. This well-established neighborhood located at the far east end of town was adjacent the original location of St. John’s Anglican Church. Town Council was concerned that the poles were “getting old and feeble” so ordered the installation of short cedar poles with straps.
Councilor W. G. Askey raised 1914 concerns about the state of repairs for the public boardwalks north of the creek. Well established neighborhoods along Bridge and Albert Avenues as well as Adelaide Street featured prominently with extensively used boardwalks. These wooden pedestrian routes required lots of regularly scheduled maintenance during the pioneer era and repair work commenced in short order. Four years earlier Town Council reported that 1,300 dollars were spent on boardwalks and another 800 dollars on street improvements.
Further north the foundation under the power house’s old boiler had started to crumble away. Tenders were sought for the repair work. The power house roof had been repaired three years earlier. Ever eager to ensure that new electrical customers were signed up, the Town’s electric light manager was authorized to sign contracts with consumers.
IMPROVEMENTS TO MUNICIPAL BUILDING
The foundations of the nearly competed Municipal Building at the corner of East Avenue and Kettles Street also required further attention. Construction of this two-storey brick landmark started in 1912 and was completed three years later. The structure housed the Town’s administrative offices as well as the Fire Hall (this is where the frontier ladder truck, now on exhibit at the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, was housed). Upstairs were located the old public library in addition to classrooms for the Pincher Creek High School. The latter remained there until the 1957 opening of Matthew Halton High School.
George L. Dore (1876 – 1971), who served as the stone mason for the Municipal Building, completed the repair work. Dore’s residence was his stone house located on Kettles Street, below St. Michael’s Church. Dore also masterminded the construction of the Lebel and Company Store as well as the Union Bank building both located on Main Street. Prior to the opening of the Municipal Building, Town affairs were housed in a modest building tucked in below the hill at the opposite corner. Still standing, this structure dated back to when Pincher Creek had Village status. Our community was incorporated as a Village in 1898 and as a Town eight years later in May 1906.