Opening New Caledonia - Opening New Caledonia - Timeline 1910
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1910

Three banks were established to provide services for the area. The first was the Bank of British North America (which later amalgamated with the Bank of Montreal). Within a few months, the Traders┐ Bank of Canada set up business in a tent, moving to a tent-covered shack a few days later. The third bank was a branch of the Bank of Vancouver, operating in Fort George. The Royal Bank of Canada bought the Traders┐ Bank in 1912, and it operated under that name thereafter.


At the time, Fort George had a population of 300 settlers. The urgent issue of the day was medical care. The townspeople were desperate to attract a resident physician and establish a hospital. People requiring care had to be taken as far away as Kamloops, or sometimes taken by boat to the hospital at Quesnel. The editor of the Fort George Herald declared ┐The prospect of over 300 men, women and children practically marooned over 100 miles from a doctor seems too appalling.┐ Dr. David Brownlee Lazier arrived from the Lower Mainland in the summer, and established his practice as the first certified physician here. He also built a three-bed hospital.


The first government-operated school opened on Monday, September 5. Until a school house could be constructed, instruction was offered in South Fort George on Fourth Street, in a building donated by Mr. Wiggins of the Northern Development Company. The school began with an enrolment of sixteen children. Mr. Cosgrave agreed to serve as teacher until a permanent teacher could be engaged. He had been educated at Princeton University. The Board of Trustees was made up of three members, all pioneers in the community: A. G. Hamilton, James Cowie and Joseph Boyer.


On a trip through the Fort George Canyon in September, Premier McBride experienced the perils of travelling upstream through the raging rapids. An underwater reef channelled the water, causing turbulence capable of damaging steam-boats. The remedy seemed to be dynamite. Newspaper editors here and in Victoria advocated this ┐much-needed improvement to aid navigation in the Fort George Canyon.┐ The Fort George Herald editor declared ┐The blowing out of the reef in the eastern channel would give a straight deep-water channel for steamboats at any stage of the water.┐ The province looked to the Dominion government for assistance.


Monday, October 17 was opening day for the Hotel Northern, built at the corner of Fourth Street and Rose Avenue in South Fort George. The three-storey wooden structure had 40 guest rooms and a large main floor lobby and dining room appointed in Mission-style furniture. Owned by Al Johnson, the hotel burned down the following July 1 and was rebuilt in 1912 at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Third Street. The hotel┐s most famous feature was a mahogany bar about a hundred feet in length which was outfitted with twelve cash registers. Customers were so numerous and steady that the pine floorboards had to be repaired and replaced with great frequency.


The November 17 birth of the first European child in the region was heralded as front page news. Georgina McInnis (now Georgina Williams), was born to John McInnis, a local contractor and builder who founded McInnis Building Supplies in 1920 and became elected MLA for the Fort George riding in the 1940s. As a teenager, Georgina provided piano accompaniment for the silent films shown. In her lifetime, she witnessed all the major changes as the city grew. She still has some of the gifts presented to her parents from representatives of local First Nations in the area who came to visit in celebration of her birth.



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