Roughly 200 Rosslanders and friends took the traditional Canada Day hike up Mount Roberts to sing the anthem and enjoy the view as a massive Canadian flag was raised up the Cominco pole, almost spanning it from top to bottom.
Andy Russell hauled the 50 square metres of flag up the 800 metres of vertical that separate the top of Mount Roberts from the Cascade Highway trailhead, pumping his fist in jubilation (and relief) as the flag was raised and billowed out over the north face in a gust of hot summer wind.
Some 120 hikers were present for the traditional group photo organized by Ronnie Mah and his orange whistle,
Ronnie Mah remembered his first hike in 1990 (or thereabouts) when an older but equally massive flag was hoisted on the old flag pole.
“That one broke,” he said, so Cominco (now Teck, Trail Operations) stepped up to fund $5,000 for the current burly pole in 1997 as part of Rossland’s centennial celebrations.
Hutch Hutchinson and Leo Telfer resurrected the patriotic tradition in 1979, but the history goes much deeper.
The first flag pole was originally erected in June, 1900, when Spokane Mountain was renamed Mt. Roberts to commemorate Lord Roberts’ capture of Pretoria that ended Britain’s war with the Boers earlier that month.
The next year, the flag flew at half mast for the death of Queen Victoria, and the Rossland Museum has a photo on file showing some merry Dominion Day hikers raising the flag in 1917.
Mah says the time the flag stays up varies from year to year and “mostly depends on the weather.”
Renee Clark of the Chamber of Commerce suggested we’ll see this one — clearly visible from downtown Rossland and even in the U.S. — flying high until September.