Rascals and revellers pepper Rossland’s early history

Heritage Commission releases new book of Rossland tales

Ron Shearer’s new book will be launched this weekend during the Rekindle celebration.

Ron Shearer’s new book will be launched this weekend during the Rekindle celebration.

A former Rosslander is bringing tales of the early days of the city back to life.

Chicanery, Civility and Celebrations by former Rossland News columnist Ron Shearer is being released at the Goldrush Bookstore in Rossland this Saturday during the Rekindle celebration.

The book is a collection of stories about people and events that were fundamental components in the social fabric of the young community of Rossland — written over a decade and a half by Shearer.

An economics professor by trade, Shearer, 88, is also a noted amateur historian with deep roots in Rossland.

“I grew up in Rossland,” Shearer told the Rossland News. “My wife insisted at one point I write down for my grandchildren stories about our family.

”So I did a family history that included material about Rossland, and I started to get curious about the early history of the city.”

Shearer started by writing about the city’s historic Chinatown, which was nearly gone when he was growing up. But those stories took him in other directions, and soon he had a collection of stories illustrating how Rossland was such a unique place in the early part of the 20th century.

“I haven’t done a history of Rossland, it’s a collection of scattered essays about various people and events that happened, mostly in the late 1890s and early 1900s,” says Shearer, who now lives in Vancouver. “It was really just a hobby.”

Shearer says it was fun to do the research and writing, but one particular story delights him the most.

“It was about the incorporation of the city, and the antics of the first mayor,” he says. “He was sort of Donald Trump of Rossland in the early days.”

He says the city worked hard, along with Nelson and Grand Forks, to incorporate in 1897. But the new mayor made some questionable deals with local businesses, and was caught out by the Rossland Miner when he tried to bribe the publishers with lucrative printing contracts.

“This put him in a rather bad light, and he lost the support of the aldermen, and he lost the subsequent re-election,” says Shearer.

The Heritage Commission has been working on this project for over a year now and is pleased to have published this book, both to recognize Shearer and to give the public a chance to learn more about our community’s history.

“The book is replete with intriguing, well researched information that provides a more detailed picture of early Rossland than has been published to date,” says a news release from the Heritage Commission.

The book will be on sale for a special release day price of $20.95 on Dec. 7, and then will be available at $24.95. Proceeds from book sales go to the publication fund of the Heritage Commission which was created to help fund future publications of material on Rossland’s history and heritage.