Heritage BC, a charitable not-for-profit supporting heritage conservation throughout British Columbia, has recognized Rossland’s Jackie Drysdale for her work promoting and preserving this community’s heritage buildings and sites. Jackie is the recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Heritage BC this year.
Jackie says her long-standing interest in Rossland’s history and heritage intensified when she was first elected to Rossland City Council in 1980. She states that she served two consecutive terms as a councillor, followed by a three-year term as Mayor. After that, she was busy serving as a director for BC Transit, and on the board of West Kootenay Power, and as a director at Columbia Basin Trust. She was elected to Council again in 2005. During that third and last term as a councillor, she persuaded the City to establish a Heritage Commission and Terms of Reference for the volunteer group. Jackie was chosen as chair of the brand-new Heritage Commission when it began in 2009 and served in that role until her retirement at the end of 2019.
Jackie reports that the Rossland Heritage Commission has always had a mandate of heritage conservation, and with a change in the provincial requirements for identifying heritage buildings and sites, much of the early work of the Commission consisted of identifying our heritage places and creating the required statements of significance. The researching and writing were time-consuming tasks for the volunteer group. The Heritage Commission’s work included creating the Rossland Official Heritage Register -- placing our heritage sites on provincial and federal heritage lists and allowing building owners to pursue heritage grants. Jackie says, “The Register will always be a work in progress but it allows one to view all the related information acquired by the Commission over the years to be accessible to the public.” She urges people to explore the website at heritagerossland.com
Jackie goes on to explain that public awareness is also part of the mandate of the Heritage Commission. To this end, the Commission is responsible for the heritage plaques on buildings, three interpretative sites, and signage at Columbia Cemetery, and assisted with new signage at the Calvary Cemetery in 2017. There have been presentations, walking tours, revised brochures and other Heritage Commission events - displays, Heritage Week events and hosting the 2014 Heritage BC annual Conference. A four-year restoration project at Columbia Cemetery was spearheaded by the Commission, which resulted in 68 monuments being repaired and several brushed-in areas of plots cleared.
More recently, the Commission has been responsible for five publications: Heritage Homes was published in 2013, and four other publications of a more historical nature, “First History of Rossland 1897”- reprinted in a newer format, “Ross Thompson”, “Cemeteries of Rossland” and “Chicanery, Civility and Celebrations” by Rossland historian Ron Shearer.
The Rossland Heritage Commission carries on with an annual grant from the City for expenses, thanks in large part to Jackie Drysdale’s interest, dedication and energy in establishing it and then driving its work for over ten years. Jackie modestly emphasizes that although she is receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from Heritage BC, she does so on behalf of all the other Commission volunteers and the community as a whole.