Updated: Jun 17
It was once common for newspapers to fancifully refer to certain people (well, men) as the mayor of a place that wasn’t incorporated.
Sometimes this was because they were the only resident (e.g. Sandon, Phoenix, Bannock City). Other times it just indicated they were the town’s chief booster.
Eholt had two imaginary mayors, plus a third contender. Ainsworth had three unofficial mayors. Bealby Point, Waterloo, Carson, Rock Creek, and Kuskanook had two each. Carson announced plans for a six-storey brick city hall. Sirdar’s faux mayor got himself listed that way in the civic directory. And one paper played the gag to the hilt with McGuigan, complete with an honourary alderman, police chief, sheriff, and a mayor who was unseated for dereliction of duty.
Informal mayors are still a thing: Max Wiesner, who died in 2013, was sometimes referred to as the mayor of Renata; Fred Hinitt, in his 2008 obituary, was said to be the mayor of Queens Bay; and Don Williams, who died in 2002, was called the unofficial mayor of Edgewood.
When Andrew Payton Smith died in 2006, his obituary said: “Payton was the unofficial unelected Mayor of Lardeau … His leadership qualities and high ethical standards quickly earned the respect of everyone he met. Payton’s death has left a void within his family and in his community that will never be filled. The office of Mayor of Lardeau will be left vacant in the future.”
Below is every early reference I have yet found to unofficial officialdom in West Kootenay/Boundary. To learn more about each place (or at least where it was and how it got its name), click on the title.
The Miner (Nelson), May 23, 1891: “J.H. Fink, mayor of Ainsworth, took a run down on Tuesday to consult with the mayor of Nelson, but did not find that official at home.”
The Miner (Nelson), Sept. 26, 1891: “Capt. Hayward of the Galena and Tom McGovern, the first mayor of Ainsworth, are reported to have $5,000 almost within their grasp, they having bonded the Little Phil, a fractional claim in Hot Springs district …”
The Kootenaian (Kaslo), March 7, 1907: “Mayor Olsen of Ainsworth showed his genial face in Kaslo for a few hours on Friday and made the sunshine doubly bright.”
The Kootenaian (Kaslo), 5 Sept 1907: “Tom Cottingeam, mayor of Argenta, came down from that suburb yesterday and is renewing old acquaintances in Kaslo today.”
Revelstoke Mail Herald, Aug. 27, 1913: “W.R. Reid, mayor of Arrowhead, was transacting business here the fore part of this week.”
Grand Forks Gazette, Aug. 8, 1935: “For many years [Tim Townsend] resided on the North Fork near the Pathfinder mine and was familiarly known as the mayor of Bannock City.”
Nelson Star, April 16, 2020, obituary for Ian McDonald: “He established their home and family at Bealby Point … where he lived for 52 years (and was commonly known as the mayor of Bealby Point after the passing of the well known and liked Dave Bell).”
(Although these places were not identical, they were close by and their names were sometimes used interchangeably.)
Slocan Record, Feb. 5, 1914: “Gust Schueler, Mayor of Bear Lake City, was in town a couple of days this week.”
Slocan Record, July 22, 1915: “Gust Schueler, Mayor of Zincton, was a visitor in town yesterday.”
Grand Forks Gazette, June 19, 1925: “Mayor F.F. Ketchum, who runs the post office and the general store, is going to have competition soon, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. Business is so good he has had to import a new stenographer.”
Beaver Valley Bulletin, 23 Oct 1972: “The unofficial mayor of Beaver Falls, Joe Hall, is jack of all trades, mind you he don’t get paid like the city slickers, he also has to fix broken water pipes on Sunday, catch hell from everyone when there is a water shortage. He is assisted by Fran Pargeter who is also a member of the Beaver Falls water board.”
The Ledge, 6 Aug 1896: “The citizens have subscribed $200 towards building a school, and Mayor Brandon has donated a lot …”
Grand Forks Miner, March 20, 1897: “The Hon. Ed. Driscoll, the enterprising and hustling mayor of Carson, BC, was a visitor at the Forks yesterday. He reports that Carson is preparing for a big ‘boom’ with the vanishing of the snow. A six-story brick, to be used as a city hall, will be erected within the next four weeks … He was accompanied by Aldermen Dan McLaren, Coleman, and Shaw, a committee appointed at the last meeting of the council, to confer with a like committee from the city council of Grand Forks looking toward the establishment of a line of steamboats, to operate on the Kettle river, between Grand Forks and Carson.”
Grand Forks Miner, March 27, 1897: “Carson, March 26 – [S]pecifications are being prepared for the dredging and snagging of Kettle River at certain points … We are pleased to note that City Clerk Coke-ash Johnston has been authorized, on and after the first of April, to receive tenders or the above work at his office in the city hall, corner Government street and Vancouver avenue.”
Grand Forks Miner, April 3, 1897: “Carson, April 1 – The contract for the new city hall has not yet been awarded although several tenders have been received by the city clerk. The matter will be discussed at the next meeting of the council. Of course the time is up at 12 o’clock, noon today, but the council deem it prudent not to act too rapid in the matter as there is a great responsibility resting on them, a six-story brick building with all modern appliances such as elevators, steam heater, etc., etc., demands their eminent and wise consideration and nothing but the best of bonds on the part of the contractors will be accepted.”
Grand Forks Miner, April 10, 1897: “Carson, April 9 – The city council appears to have a hard problem to solve in the matter of accepting the tenders for the new city hall. The city clerk presented and read to his worship the mayor, and aldermen at the last setting [sic] of the council, all documents in the way of tenders, etc., etc. thereto pertaining, which caused a very lengthy and heated discussion. After the matter had been considered at length it was laid over until the next meeting, when no doubly some definate [sic] conclusion will be arrived at.
Grand Forks Miner, April 10, 1897: “Mr. C.E. Sturat has sold his property on the corner of Government and Vancouver avenue to R.C. Johnston, city clerk. The building will be utilized as a civic assemblage for our city fathers pending the completion of the new city hall.”
Grand Forks Miner, April 24, 1897: “Carson, April 22 – Last week’s meeting of the council was a stormy one. His Worship, Mayor Driscoll and all of the aldermen excepting Mr. Shaw were present. City clerk R.C. Johnston reported a bill on file from J. Shuster & Co. of $637.43 for constructing sidewalks and crosswalks at several points on Government street and also repairing two culverts on Graham street …” (The story went on to detail a false fire alarm that resulted in Engine No. 17 colliding with an electric streetcar at the corner of Vernon Street and Yale Avenue.)
Grand Forks Miner, Dec. 24, 1898: “Dan McLaren, mayor, postmaster, and high Poo Bah of Carson, was in town this week hob-nobbing with L.A. Manley …”
Slocan Mining Review, Oct. 18, 1906: “Speeches were also given by the Mayor of Cody (Alex. McMillan) …”
Eholt was never incorporated, but it had two faux mayors plus another candidate.
(Greg Nesteroff collection)
Greenwood Weekly Times, May 2, 1901: “G.A. Rendell, mayor of Eholt, spent Sunday in town.”
Greenwood Miner, June 21, 1901: “G. Arthur Rendell, the genial ‘mayor of Eholt,’ went to Rossland on Tuesday …”
Grand Forks Evening Sun, Oct. 21, 1902: “Water Commissioner Sam McOrmond, of Eholt, has just completed the laying of water pipe to a number of residences and business houses in that town. Mr. McOrmand owns the waterworks of Eholt, and now has a nice little income e from this source. He started it three years ago with the town … He is very popular in and around town and is likely to be the next mayor of Eholt.”
Phoenix Pioneer, Aug. 1, 1903: “John Keen of Kaslo, president of the Provincial Mining Association, was a visitor in camp Tuesday, accompanied by the mayor of Eholt, G. Arthur Rendell …”
Phoenix Pioneer, Nov. 13, 1909: “J.A. McMaster, proprietor of the Union hotel, Eholt, and newly-elected mayor of the Boundary railway centre, was in town to see his old friend, the premier, on Thursday.”
Poplar Nugget, Sept. 23 1904: “E. Mobbs, mayor of Gerrard, was a visitor in town the past week.”
Lardeau Mining Review, June 27, 1907: “Edward Mobbs, Mayor of Gerrard”
Phoenix Pioneer, April 11, 1908: “Joseph J. Bassett, the mayor of Hartford Junction, who is doing development on his Florence mineral claims, was showing some nice copper ore sample around camp this week …”
Phoenix Pioneer, 13 Nov 1909: “Mayor Bassett of Hartford Junction was in town on Thursday. He is at present superintending a contract for the government and was here to confer with the premier.”
Creston Review, June 16, 1911: “Among the many important visitors in town this week was Mr. Charles Wright, mayor of Kuskanook, who came down to sample the Creston brands of strawberries on Monday.”
Creston Review, Aug. 9, 1912: “Mayor Wright of Kuskunook [sic] is figuring on erecting a fine residence on his ranch between Kuskunook and Sirdar.”
Creston Review, Sept. 22, 1916: “Hans Haag, mayor of Kuskanook, was in town on Tuesday, recording a couple of copper claims he has just staked in the hills near Kuskanook.”
Creston Review, Feb. 22, 1918: “R. Jarrett, mayor of Kootenay Landing, was here on Tuesday en route to Creston on a business visit.”
Slocan Mining Review, Mar. 14, 1907: “Ern. Towgood, mayor of McGuigan, was in town last week.”
Slocan Mining Review, April 11, 1907: “The Mayor of McGuigan was in town on business yesterday. Sheriff Tyo was in charge of the city during Mr. Towgood’s absence.”
Slocan Mining Review, June 27, 1907: “Alderman Tyo was up from McGuigan on Saturday. We understand that Mayor Towgood has been fired for neglecting his civic responsibilities.”
Slocan Mining Review, Aug. 1, 1907: “Henry Tyo, mayor of McGuigan, was the star visitor Wednesday.”
Slocan Mining Review, Oct. 3, 1907: “A big crowd of McGuigan boys made the trip to Kaslo to take in the fair … Mayor Tyo, Sheriff Davis, and Chief Constable Leet headed the procession to the depot …”
Trail Creek News, Feb. 4, 1905: “H.B. Landis, mayor of Montgomery, is now sole owner of the little town, having purchased land from CPR and thereby falling heir to a large number of dwellings, office buildings, etc. erected in 1896 by the Horne-Payne syndicate …”
In Roxanne, Fred Willard plays Mayor Deebs, who affectionately states “I would rather be with the people of this town than with the finest people in the world.” He wins the job, barely, when his opponent dies a week before the election.
Trail News, Oct. 1, 1910: “Mr. T.H. Paulson, mayor of Paulson, was in the city Monday for the purpose of attending the annual meeting of the Trail Lumber company.”
Greenwood Ledge, Oct. 20, 1927: “Today there is one permanent resident, Adolph Sercu, nicknamed Forepaw. He has moved into the city building and is unofficial mayor of the city.” (Phoenix had been an actual city, but it was disincorporated by this time.)
Vancouver Province, April 15, 1899: “H.S. Pittendrigh is still at Rock Creek, and should be its first mayor. He is postmaster, hotel man, livery man, and guide for that section.”
Boundary Creek Times, April 5, 1907: “S.T. Larsen of the Riverside Hotel, Rock Creek, is a Greenwood visitor this week. Sam is mayor of his village and is watching out for all the new things going, likely to benefit his home locality.”
Slocan Mining Review, Jan. 16, 1908: “Wm. Scholtzki was again elected mayor of Rosebery by acclamation on Saturday. He was here Monday to take a sun bath.”
In a 1964 interview with Imbert Orchard, held by the BC Archives, Isabella Cummings said: “Old Price McDonald, he was quite a character around here. We called him the Mayor of Sanca.”
Before Sandon incorporated, the Nelson Tribune of March 2, 1895 referred to Edwin R. Atherton as the community’s mayor. They were prescient, for he was in fact elected the founding mayor in 1898. Long after Sandon disincorporated, Eugene Petersen was referred to as the mayor, as by the 1960s he was one of the few permanent residents left, if not the only one.
Nakusp Ledge, May 31, 1894: “T. Ardell, Mayor of Silverton, was a visitor in town this week on business …” (Silverton didn’t incorporate until 1930.)
There were nearly 60 references to Joe Daly as the mayor of Sirdar in the Creston Review from 1916-24, of which only a few samples are presented here. Daly even had mayor listed as his occupation in the 1918 civic directory (but the publisher apparently caught on by the following year, when no occupation was listed for him).
Creston Review, 23 Jul 1916: “Mayor Daly is reported at Vancouver and may be showing up anytime now.”
Creston Review, Nov. 1, 1918: “The new superintendent, Mr. Maharg … paid Sirdar an official visit last week, Mayor Daly extending the freedom of the city to Mr. Maharg in his usual faultless fashion.”
Creston Review, Jan. 3, 1919: “The inaugural meeting of the Sirdar council is called for tonight and it is gratifying to know that Mayor Daly will again preside over municipal affairs for another year. The aldermen-elect are: R. Dennes, W.H. Morris, J. McDiarmid, R.H. Ross, Jas. Blair, and R. Skinner.”
Creston Review, Feb. 13, 1920: “Mayor Daly is still absent from the city and for the month of February has named Ald. Dennes as acting mayor. Between his paternal duties and safeguarding the welfare of the city Dick is putting in considerable overtime gratuitously. Lucky it is for the ratepayers that he escaped so luckily from the chisel mishap last week.”
Creston Review, Sept. 24, 1920: “There was no meeting of the city council this week. Mayor Daly is busily engaged this week consulting ancient and modern authorities on the liquor question …”
Cranbrook Herald, 10 Oct 1924:
“‘Mayor’ Daly of Sirdar passes away
“Railwaymen of the district have learned with keen regret of the death at the St. Eugene hospital on Thursday, about 9 o’clock in the morning, of Joseph Daly, of Sirdar, a veteran engineer who was for many years in the yard engine at Sirdar. He was brought to the hospital on Sunday last in a serious condition. ‘Mayor’ Daly, as he was affectionately called, had a host of friends on this part of the Crow line.”
Arrow Lakes News, Aug. 9, 1929: “On Tuesday evening several car loads of young people motored to the Summit Lake tent pavillion to stage a dance. Thomas Allshouse, the ‘mayor’ kindly gave the use of his dancing floor and orthophonic as well as the facilities for making supper which was served about midnight.”
Arrow Lakes News, March 9, 1977: “The undisputed mayor of the city of Summit Lake was T.W. (Tom) Allshouse.”
The Ledge, June 10, 1909: “Old Bob has been elected mayor of Three Forks.”
Revelstoke Mail Herald, Feb. 13, 1915: “This year the mayor of Three Forks will plant the making of a big crop of spuds.”
Revelstoke Kootenay Mail, Jan. 18, 1896: “New Year’s Eve welcomed back a number of the boys from the mountains … At 11:30 p.m. it was agreed to visit the residence of the Mayor of Trout Lake, Mr. John Knowles, as a surprise party. On arrival we found his worship ready to welcome us right royally.”
Beaver Valley Bulletin, 16 Aug 1971: “Was very pleased to see the mayor of Waneta Junction in attendance at the mid-summer hockey game. I think he was politicing [sic] with Bobby Kromm.” (The mayor was not identified by name.)
Trail Creek News, Nov. 20, 1896: “H.W. Robins, mayor of Waterloo, is in town, accompanied by his son.”
Trail Creek News, Jan. 8, 1897: “C.S. Thompson, Mayor of Waterloo, spent Christmas and New Year’s in Trail.”
Commercial History of Trail, 1897: “Charles Thompson, mayor of Waterloo, conducts a general store at that place.”
Updated on July 20, 2018 with the notes about Carson; on Oct. 4, 2018 with the quote about Sanca; on Jan. 2, 2020 with the quote about Montgomery; on March 26, 2020 with the first two quotes about Ainsworth; on April 24, 2020 with item about Bealby Point; on Sept. 4, 2020 with the items about Beaver Falls and Waneta Junction; on Sept. 20 and 29, 2020 with items about Summit Lake; Oct. 16, 2020 with items about Rock Creek; Feb. 4, 2021 with item about Paulson; Aug. 8, 2022 with the item about Beaverdell; and on Jan. 2, 2023 with items about Kootenay Landing and Sirdar; and on Jan. 9, 2023 with the item about Trout Lake; and on Feb. 10, 2023 with the last item about Ainsworth; and on June 17, 2023 with the item about Argenta.