Below I’ve transcribed a six-page letter in my collection mailed by a woman visiting Kaslo with her mother shortly after the death of Queen Victoria on Jan. 22, 1901. It describes the multi-denominational memorial service held for her there. (You can see a picture of the funeral procession down Front Street by clicking here.)
The first and third pages of the letter in question.
The letter was mailed to the Rev. Thomas Lerch of Lansdowne, Ont. (if I am reading the last name correctly), who appears to have been the writer’s husband. However, I haven’t been able to learn anything about the family. There was no Thomas Lerch on the 1901 census, nor any Lerches in BC.
St. Mark’s Anglican Church, referred to in the letter, is still standing, as is the former Presbyterian Church, now St. Andrew’s United Church. The letter was written on stationery that featured a bird’s-eye view of Kaslo. A few references are over my head, including “Juvenile Lancers” and “Union BA.” Can anyone explain them?
Mailed to Rev. Thomas Lerch, Lansdowne, Ont.
Postmarked Kaslo, Feb. 4, 1901; Kingston Ont., Feb. 12, 1901; Lansdowne, Feb. 13, 1901
St. Mark’s Rectory
Kaslo, BC, Feb. 3, 1901
My dearest Tom –
Your last welcome letter was forwarded from Nelson to me here. Mother and I have enjoyed our quiet visit – in Kaslo the weather here is always milder than at Nelson even tho only about 50 miles distant. There is no damp weather of any account and even when it does rain there is no[t] much an hour after. Not so in Nelson. The wind there at times is simply dreadful, so between nice dry weather and convenience to ch[urch] dear old mother has enjoyed her stay here very much and so have I too of course, but it matters less for me because I can get about pretty well no matter where I am.
The Mayor of Kaslo asked Rev. H. Beer to conduct the burial services yesterday so Mr. Beer had been busy all week making preparations for the same. To begin with St. Mark’s was too small a ch[urch] so he took the offer of the Presbyterian Ch. providing the Presbyterians would allow him to erect an altar and make any other alterations about the ch. he saw fit. He and his ppl. were very nice about it but said if the Xmas decorations were taken down he and the Anglican [illegible] must tidy up etc., etc.
So I went with them and helped and was able to help the Presbyterian minister drape the ch. and keep on the military [?] decorations too. So one never knows when one may be called upon to land a hand. Mr. B. recognized the fact that it was a service all the dear old Queen’s subjects should have a share in that – possibly could the Presbyterian clergyman read the 1st Lesson – the Methodist parson the 2nd Lesson – the choirs of both churches joining those of St. Mark’s
The double bank organ – a very nice one – was was loaned from the Methodist Ch. The service was of the Ch. and the preacher Rev. H. Beer. He did well and the Mayor a Swede (and a Lutheran)  said he was proud of him but really he did well and with his royal purple stole, black cassock and spotlessly white surplice, gold glasses and white lair [?] he looked fine. Of course these were only outward appearances, but these things do have an influence. His last Sunday’s texts were “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” and “there remains a test for the people of God.” Both were very touching yet comforting. His sermon yesterday began with the words “When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice.” The memorial service at Nelson were to be held in the open air. We will hear all about them when we return to Jim’s [?] morrow or next day.
I have some pretty views of Kaslo to show you when we return. I received a line for Hattie this week at last – the first she has written me since coming here. The Rectory friends at home are very faithful in writing to us. Of course there are three in that house to divide their correspondence amongst. The S.S. concert was a great success and the Juvenile Lancers gave them a $95 house. Mr. Church of the Union BA trained the youngsters. I am glad it was such a success. How have you been getting along on your missionary tour? Mr. Elliott had finished his when he wrote last week. Mr. Beer received $5 ($3 from W.A. and $2 from the IWA [Carlton Place]) towards the pew fund. They were very pleased indeed to receive it. There are still $75 to make up before Easter when they hope to get them.
The dear old Queen’s death has made a lull in all social circles here so the social which the Guild [?] Ladies expected to hold on the 19th here will have to be postponed until after Easter. The order is placed for the pen [?] with a firm in Dundas, Ont. How does Ethie like teaching at Scotch Corners? I am glad Minnie is at home but I suppose she will be away again at Easter.
I know you will be pleased to hear that I have not had a youth or cold this winter (so far) and my foot is all right after these last three weeks. I am glad also to tell you that mother is feeling stronger and much the better of her trip. I do sincerely hope the weather will not cause her rheumatism to return. The damp weather of Nelson a month ago was against her. It is time for the service so good night dear and with love from Mother and self. I remain as ever, Marie
P.S. I am longing to see Jim’s children again. Bless the little darlings. You should hear [illegible] and Helen sing the hymn you gave me.
The mayor was Gus A. Carlson.