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Pickles the driving dog and other oddities

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

Last month a curious postcard appeared for sale on eBay, showing a dog at the wheel of … well, some sort of contraption. The exact text reads: “‘Pickles’/And his automobile/Revelstoke, BC.”

At first I thought this was the sort of humorous postcard that was mass produced with an interchangeable location, such as the many exaggeration cards showing absurdly large fish. The same image would have “at London, Ont.” or “at Wainwright, Alta.” or “Greetings from Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask.” written at the bottom.

But the postcard in this case was “Published by Trueman’s Studio, Vancouver.”

Richard Trueman, who also had studios in Revelstoke, Sandon, Kaslo, and Grand Forks, was chiefly famous for his railway photography, including an oft-reproduced image of a train stopped at Payne Bluff on the Kaslo and Slocan line in 1900.

So might Pickles and his strange car have actually been from Revelstoke? Alas, a search of the digitized newspapers for “Pickles the dog” and “Pickles and his automobile” turned up nothing relevant.

But it did lead me to a story from 1933 of a different dog named Pickles on Vancouver Island who saved a woman from a cougar attack. Unfortunately, a few months later Pickles had another encounter with a cougar, this time fatal.

Victoria Daily Times, Aug. 26, 1933

Another Pickles recovered the World Cup trophy in 1966 after it was stolen while on public display in London. It was turned into a TV movie in 2006.

Comincos and Gassosas

Long before Cominco was officially the name of the company that owned the Trail smelter, it was adopted by a couple of basketball teams.

Consolidated Mining and Smelting officially changed its name to Cominco in 1966, although the company’s in-house publication had been known as Cominco Magazine since its third issue in April 1940. An editorial that month explained:

Cominco appears for the first time under its new name for which George Brown of the office repair shop collected the $10 prize offered in the first issue. Cominco is the cable address of the company and is known wherever the Consolidated’s letterhead has gone ... The same name was submitted by Edith J. Jure, stenographer, but George beat her to the draw by a day ... Cominco Gazette was another similar name submitted by S.H. Kyle, legal department and by Reginald Healy, Warfield police department. Another similar name was Cominco Scope

(Click here for more on the little-known Warfield police.)

How long had the cable address been Cominco? I’m not sure, but safe to say at least a decade. When I searched for “Cominco” in the digitized Nelson Daily News, the earliest hit from Nov. 14, 1931 was a surprise. Rather than anything to do with the smelter, it was a report on the Trail basketball club schedule.

Nelson Daily News, Aug. 2, 1937

An intermediate men’s team was called the Comincos. Other teams in men’s and women’s divisions included the Rovers, Cardinals, Canucks, Sheiks, Elks, Times, Colomobos, Shamrocks, Falcons, Wood Butchers, and Diakonias. (Wood butcher is slang for an unskilled carpenter. Wikipedia tells us a diakonia or diaconia was “originally an establishment built near a church building, for the care of the poor … in medieval Rome.”)

The newspaper search only returned only one other hit from later that month, when the Diakonias beat the Comincos 33-27, so it doesn’t appear the team was around beyond that season. However, in 1941, a Kimberley girls basketball team also adopted the name Comincos.

The Comincos weren’t the only Trail sports team with a novel name derived from a local business. I’ve written before about the Gassosa Beverages company. In 1937, they sponsored a team in the junior box lacrosse league known as the Gassosas. It too appeared to be short-lived.

Yale and Trail

Why was Yale University involved in demolishing buildings in Trail?

I came across the news story seen below in the Trail Daily Times of Dec. 12, 1959 about the construction of the new Simpson-Sears store on Cedar Avenue in Trail (now the Salvation Army). It took the place of some homes on the site that were torn down.

What caught my eye was the last paragraph:

City of Trail officials said today a demolition permit has already been issued to raze the buildings now located on the site of the future store. The permit was issued to Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

Issued to Yale? The newspaper didn’t elaborate.

The only explanation I can think of is that a previous owner of the property died and willed their estate to the university for whatever reason. Still, why would Yale be on the hook for the demolition permit rather than Sears?

The present building has an address of 1460 Cedar Ave. In the 1953 civic directory, the closest one to 1959 available, J.M. Paulsen is listed at 1466 Cedar while 1482 was vacant. Paulsen, a carpenter at the smelter, lived until 1962. (There was also an H.M. Mann at 1412, which I assume became the Kresge’s parking lot before it was later built on.)

A title search on the property might reveal some clues but since they’re rather costly, I’m just going to continue to puzzle over it for now.

1460 Cedar Avenue as it appears today, undergoing renovations. (Courtesy City of Trail)

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