Community Papers

On the trail of Nelson’s W.H. Jones

Part of an ongoing series about local collectibles.

A reader wrote this month to ask about a pop bottle labelled “Property of W.H. Jones, Nelson, BC.”

Sandra Seminoff said her husband Mike found it years ago while scuba diving below their home at Four Mile on Kootenay Lake.

Coincidentally, an identical bottle sold on eBay this month for $20 US. It’s the second to be auctioned online — in 2009, another sold for $32.50 US.

What can we say about them? Just that they came from the Columbia Bottling Works, which was founded in Rossland in 1898, but moved to Nelson around 1934 and operated at 607-609 Ward Street. Proprietor William H. Jones lived on High Street and later at 611 Ward Street with wife Edith.

What’s more intriguing is whether this W.H. Jones was the same one who came to Nelson from Rossland around 1902 to work as a telegraph editor on The Miner and later had a commercial printing business that became Leno-Whimster.

His wife, Dr. Annie Verth Jones, was a pioneer physician and the first woman elected to public office in Nelson when she took a seat on the school board in 1911. But she immediately butted heads with longtime secretary Dr. E.C. Arthur, and eventually forced his resignation when she was re-elected along with a like-minded ticket. She was then nominated to chair the board, but declined.

In the mid-1920s, with Annie’s health failing, the couple moved to Ontario, where they were originally from. Annie died in early 1933 in Cayuga.

Might William have returned to BC, found a job at the bottling works, and remarried? Perhaps, but it’s hard to say. This W.H. Jones showed up in Rossland in 1931 as manager of the Columbia Bottling Works, and held that position until the firm moved to Nelson three years later.

In 1946, E.W. White was listed as the new proprietor of the Columbia Bottling Works, and Jones was no longer in Nelson.

Other noteworthy auctions of the last few weeks:

• An amethyst bottle from Rossland’s Lion Brewery sold last week for $219.50 US. This company’s story was told in this column last October after a clear example of the bottle sold for $147 US.

• A Medalta flour cup from the Company Store in Trail advertising Ogilvie’s Royal Household Flour sold for $182.50 US. A handful have appeared before, fetching between $150 and $640 US.

• A couple of scarce Rossland trade tokens went for very reasonable sums: one from the Windsor Hotel for $24 US and another from the Clifton House for $33 US.

This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on January 31.

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