Donald, British Columbia

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Donald, British Columbia
Donald, British Columbia is located in British Columbia
Donald, British Columbia
Location of in British Columbia
Coordinates: 51°29′45″N 117°10′25″W / 51.49583°N 117.17361°W / 51.49583; -117.17361Coordinates: 51°29′45″N 117°10′25″W / 51.49583°N 117.17361°W / 51.49583; -117.17361
Country  Canada
Province  British Columbia
Area code(s) 250, 778

Donald, British Columbia is located on Highway 1, 28 kilometers west of Golden. In its heyday, Donald was a divisional point on the Canadian Pacific Railway. But, in 1897, when the CPR abandoned Donald in favor of Revelstoke, Donald disappeared into obscurity and is now a small sawmilling community.

History[edit]

Donald 1886

In its glory years, Donald was home to several memorable characters.

  • Reverend Henry Irwin who was the local Anglican priest during rail construction. Affectionately called "Father Pat", he was also well known throughout the Rossland mining camps.
  • Pioneer newspaperman John Houston, who would later become the first mayor of Nelson started his first newspaper in Donald in 1888.

Other, less law abiding but still colorful, people called Donald home.

  • Card sharks: "One Armed Roxy" and John Houts, also known as "Keno Jack".
  • Madam Florence Mackenzie, also known as "Mother" Mackenzie, who saved "Keno Jack"'s life by administering first aid when the man had been lung shot by CPR conductor, Jack Selkirk, when Selkik had caught him "springing a cold deck" during a game of poker.

The Stolen Church and the Stolen Bell[edit]

Windermere's St. Peter's Church

Despite the roguish nature of some these local characters, it would be one of Donald's leading citizens, Rufus Kimpton, who would commit its most notorious crime. When the CPR announced the move to Revelstoke in 1897, the company also offered to move free of charge any buildings to anywhere along its line. Rufus Kimpton, knowing that Donald would soon be a ghost town moved with his family to Windermere. His wife missed the church at Donald so much that Rufus went back and got it for her, moving it by wagon and barge to its new location in Windermere. However, the church had already been promised to the town of Revelstoke and when a group of Revelstokians arrived in Donald ready to move the church, they found that it had mysteriously disappeared. When they learned that the church had been taken to Windermere, they wrote letters demanding its return. Windermere didn't respond to the correspondence, and they too had been victims of a theft. While the church had been en route to Windermere, someone at Golden had stolen the bell out of it. Windermere had no better luck getting its bell back than Revelstoke had getting the church back.

Golden's St. Paul's Church

Therefore, at Windermere, there was St. Peter's, the "Stolen Church" and at Golden, there was St. Paul's, the church of the "Stolen Bell". Resentment simmered between Windermere and Golden for more than half a century over the bell, until one night in 1957, a group from Windermere, sneaked into Golden and stole back the bell, even going so far as to hold a parade in honor of their achievement. However the church officials at Windermere didn't believe that two wrongs made a right and the bell was soon returned to Golden.

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