With a population of 727 people, Greenwood, BCIt is the smallest city in Canada.
And this week, the small community located two hours southeast of Kelowna and near the US border is celebrating its 125th birthday.
This year’s anniversary focused on the important role Canada plays in development.
Mayor Barry Knoll explained that in the 1800s people moved into Greenwood from wanting to attack the wealthy.
Fortune-seekers entered the small town in search of gold or silver, but copper turned out to be its most profitable export.
In the early 1900s, Greenwood was home to the BC Copper Company, one of the largest smelters in the British Empire, and Knoll said the times were prosperous, although they were relatively short-lived.
When World War I ended, the demand for copper fell and by 1919 the smelter was closed.
Greenwood was poised to become another mining-era ghost town with a population of only 200, down from the 1,500 who called it home during the mining boom.
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However, a dark chapter came in Canadian history, which breathed new and unexpected life into the small mountain town.
“After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Canadians were forcibly interned from the west coast,” explained Greenwood Heritage Society president Doreen McLean.
The federal government ordered that people of Japanese descent be either repatriated, despite the fact that they were in fact Canadians, or go to camps,
“So the mayor of the day, Mayor MacArthur, met with the Catholic bishop in Nelson and contacted the government to see if they would bring some Japanese Canadians to Greenwood,” McLean said.
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According to McLean, 1,200 Japanese arrived in Greenwood, although mostly women, children and the elderly, were moving into old hotels and large buildings.
“Those buildings were turned into raw living conditions … it was like communal living,” McLean said.
“One of these buildings would have had a stove in the center of a floor, and partitions across the floor. They would have had to share cooking facilities, toilets, washrooms, things like that. ,
McLean said that many Japanese-Canadians were treated poorly in the cities where they were relocated, something the people of Greenwood were welcoming.
Therefore, when the detention centers were disbanded, many Japanese went to Greenwood before heading east.
The economy, however, was not strong enough to provide a reason to stay.
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It’s important to know everything, from economic foundations to historical failures, McLean said, adding that Canadians can better understand themselves.
Today, however, for all its boom and bust, the current mayor of Greenwood sees reason to enjoy a “peaceful and quiet” present.
“Greenwood is now a retirement center and we have a lot of new people moving in,” Knoll said.
“We have had a lot of interest over the years and seem to be bringing a lot of interest to rural life. It’s becoming a small Sleepy Hollow-like community, but it definitely still has the feel of the city. ,
The party to celebrate all things Greenwood takes place on this Saturday and Sunday and everyone is welcome.
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