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EDITORIAL: Rossland Went to the Dogs A Long Time Ago

A shocking revelation this week, as new research into Mountain Kingdom archives reveals a dark truth from Rossland’s storied history. Look closely at the photograph which accompanies this editorial (to see the image properly, open the file attachment at the end of this editorial). Gaze upon Rossland, clutched in the icy grip of winter. 1913. As the world teeters on the brink of global war, we see a sight that can only chill us to the bone. A seemingly innocent streetscape at first glance: Christmas trees outside the Bank of Montreal; red and white striped awning on the Pro Hardware building. But something strange as well. Something disturbing. Notice the lack of people. A few figures, blurred as though quaking in fear or engaged in quick retreat, are discernable far down the right hand side of the street. Whoever they are, they are far away and one gets the feeling that something is keeping them at a distance, that there is something disrupting the usual flow of human traffic through town. Rossland does not belong to them. It belongs to something else. And then you see it. Your eye drifts down to the bottom right hand corner of the photograph…and encounters something awful. Various theories have been advanced as to the nature of the small creature visible there. Perhaps, some say, it is a fledgling griffin, small but deadly, facing away from the camera, searching for prey. And that might be the case. But here at the Telegraph we’re not given to imaginative flights; if the ‘Harry Potter’ series of documentary films have taught us anything, it’s that griffins dwell over the pond in old Blimey, not here in Canada. Still others believe that this figure, which so clearly dominates the streetscape, is a dwarf sasquatch, its gorilla-like arms dragging in the snow. This makes more sense geographically, and if so, this photo would be the earliest documented sighting of such a creature in history. It’s an appealing theory, but there’s an innate contradiction to the term ‘little bigfoot’ that makes us doubt that it’s true. This leaves only one possibility: the creature is a dog. Now, it’s well known that Rossland was a wild town in its heyday, a century ago. On a Saturday night or Tuesday mid-morning, drunken miners would roam the streets looking for brawls; there was little law and less respect for it. A town of big, burly men and big burly women. And yet something has cowed these Bunyan-like figures and herded them like sheep into the background. A dog. No pooperscoopers in this photo. No plastic (or canvas) bags for picking up feces. No bold signs warning canine interlopers to stay off Columbia Avenue. No bylaw office facing down the four-footed thug. Just a dog. Defiant. Then as now. Have we learned nothing?