Bay Avenue in the 1970s. (Trail Historical Society photo)

Trail Blazers: Business was buzzing in the 1970s

Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

One of the most recognizable scenes in the Silver City is the view from Bay Avenue looking toward the smelter.

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This image has evolved ever since pioneers first landed in the City of Trail 125 years ago, so the idea of looking back at Bay Avenue development from an angle facing the stacks, presented a compelling mini-series for our Trail Blazers feature.

This is the fourth and final part in the series of photos from Trail Museum and Archives, which began with images from the 1890s and ends with a snapshot from the 1970s.

“Much of the street looks similar to the current Bay Avenue, lined with shops and business,” notes Jesslyn Jarvis, collections coordinator.

On the left side of the photo is MacLeod’s Department Store, and next to it, is “Sweet 16” a very popular clothing store of the day.

Across the street is Quality Paints. Next to that store is Curriers’ Insurance Agency, a local business that ran from 1331 Bay Avenue for more than six decades before it changed to the present office of RHC Insurance.

The Arlington Hotel and former Crown Point Hotel, now the Crown Columbia Hotel, stand in the background on either side of the street.

There were several milestones in the 1970s decade, beginning on Jan. 31, 1970 with Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (then called the Trail Regional Hospital) opening two additional units for psychiatric care, an expanded laboratory department and an extended care wing.

In 1974, the four-month strike between the United Steelworkers and Cominco ended on Nov. 1. Under “It’s Over,” headline in the Trail Daily Times the reporter noted it was the longest strike to date, “but at the end, it was a major victory for pensions as Local 480 became the first industrial union in Canada to reduce retirement from age 60 or older to age 58.”

The following year, a work force of 1,000 was hired to construct the Seven Mile Dam after the project was given the green-light by the province. The Pend D’Oreille River dam was opened by then-B.C. Premier Bill Bennett on June 13, 1979.

Another milestone was celebrated in 1976, it was this year the City of Trail turned 75 years.

Finally, in 1977 a proposal to rezone and service land near Waneta Junction for a $12-million major shopping centre went before the regional district board. That build, of course is the Waneta Plaza.

According to the census, the City of Trail’s population was 11,149 in 1971. Comparatively, almost 50 years later, the most recent census from 2016 shows the population of Trail sitting at 7,709.


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