The Volunteer Spirit of Rossland, B.C.

By: Sarah Taekema

Canada, as part of the British Empire, joined the First World War on August 4, 1914. Intending to be part of the first sailing overseas to join the fight, twenty-four men and one woman (a nurse from the hospital) volunteered right away to join the war effort. 

So why, in this relatively remote region of British Columbia, were people so keen to volunteer? 

Rossland's gold mines attracted miners from all over Europe - England, Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia, Mentenegro, Italy and more. When Britain entered the awr, loyal British subjects were eager to fight for their motherland. Members of minority groups, such as Montengrins, quickly signed up to show their loyalty to their adopted country, Canada. The life of a miner was one of constant risk and danger so Rosslanders were not intimidated by the risks of war and saw the cause as greater than themselves - knowing that their fellow soldiers have their backs, and those back home would be doing their part as well. 

Before the 54th Battalion C.E.F. was formed in 1915, volunteer soldiers either joined British battalions or the Rocky Mountain Rangers. The Rocky Mountain Rangers, which becae the 102nd Regiment in 1908 was the standing rigle corps created to protect Canadian interets from external threats. During the First World War, Rocky Mountain Rangers served in infantry units overseas, as well as on the home front protecting CPR bridges. 

Rosslanders who stayed behined did their parts as well. Red Mountain miners continued to mine copper, which was used in shell casings. Employees of the smelter produced lead and zinc. During both World Wars, the Rossland Miner advertised volunteer-drive clothing drives for soldiers, metal and rubber drives, and fundraisers hosted by school children. It published the anmes of local donors to hun and tobacco funds, and posted regular updates on the activities of the Red Cross. Ads for Victory Bonds took up significatn space in the newspaper forom 1941 - 1945. During the Second World War, the Air Raid Precautions Organization (ARP) was set up to protect civilians against possible threats to Canada. People from all over the Kootenays joined their local ARP and ran drills to prepare for possible air raids. Rosslanders rationed food and gas. They made due with less and shared with their neighbours. These are all traits that degined the community before, during, and after the wars. 

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