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St. Eugene Mission School - Cranbrook, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 49° 35.133 W 115° 45.388
11U E 589883 N 5493294
Quick Description: This resort hotel was once an Indian “Industrial and Residential” school, built by the Canadian government and operated by the Oblate missionaries for 60 years until its closure in 1970.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 2/11/2015 1:43:57 AM
Waymark Code: WMNC4J
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 1

Long Description:
After all it's been through in the last century plus, this beautiful old stone school/resort hotel has managed to retain its little bell tower which, for 60 years called what were essentially captive students to class every weekday morning and to mass every Sunday. It's a beautiful little bell tower, too, with its arched vent openings, double eave brackets at each corner and flared eaves. As was the norm, the bell tower is constructed of wood, though the rest of the building is of stone.

The true purpose of this school, the largest building in the British Columbia Interior when built, was to disenfranchise natives of the BC Interior from their culture and their language. Run by Catholic missionaries, it instructed 5000 less than willing children from the Okanagan, Shuswap and Blackfoot Nations in addition to the area’s Ktunaxa Nation.

Unlike every other school built by the Canadian government at the time, this school was not designed by government architects but by Allan Keefer, a private Ottawa architect. Erected in 1910, this was the first "comprehensive Indian Industrial and Residential school to be built in the Canadian West". After closure in 1970 the British Columbia embarked on an abortive attempt to repurpose the school as a facility for the mentally handicapped.

The building remained empty for twenty years before the Ktunaxa people took it upon themselves to turn it into a world class destination resort, with golf course, casino, hotel, restaurants, lounges and more.

Read more of the story of the mission and the school below.


St. Eugene Mission & School

The Oblate Order founded the first mission near the site of the current mission in 1873. The building served initially as a school, residence, and later as a hospital. Financing the new mission buildings was, in part, provided by the discovery in 1893 of a rich ore body by Pierre, a Ktunaxa First Nations member. He brought a sample of rich galena ore to Father Coccola, head of the St. Eugene Mission, and the two staked claims above the town of Moyie. Father Coccola sold the claim for $12,000 and constructed the St. Eugene Church (prefabricated in Italy) in 1897, which graces the Mission area today. Within ten years the St. Eugene Mine produced more than $10 Million. With the infusion of capital, the Mission became a large self-supporting complex, milling its own grain in the first flourmill in the region.

In 1910, the Canadian Government funded and constructed the present Mission school, presently a part of the hotel complex at St Eugene Mission Resort. Operated by the Oblates, this facility was the first comprehensive Indian “Industrial and Residential” school to be built in the Canadian West. At the time, it was the largest building in the BC Interior. The Mission instructed 5000 children from the Okanagan, Shuswap and Blackfoot Nations in addition to the area’s Ktunaxa Nation Council. The school was closed in 1970 when government policy changed to encourage public education for Indian children. In 1973, the BC Government leased the Mission with the intent of turning it into a facility for the mentally handicapped. The building was stripped of historic fixtures and artifacts, and after spending $750,000 on renovations, the project was abandoned. The following winter the pipes burst and the building suffered severe damage from internal flooding. For the next twenty years the building remained empty.

To our knowledge, the St. Eugene Mission is the only project in Canada where a First Nation decided to turn the icon of an often sad period of its history into a powerful economic engine by restoring an old Indian Residential School into an International Destination Resort for future generations to enjoy. The golf course opened in 2000 and was followed by the hotel and casino in 2003.

Today, the Ktunaxa Nation Council operates an interpretive centre within the Resort which displays artifacts and details of the history and mythology of their people.

Admission to the center is free.

Address of Tower:
7777 Mission Road
Cranbrook, BC Canada
V1C 7E5

Number of bells in tower?: 1

Relevant website?: [Web Link]

Rate tower:

Tours or visits allowed in tower?: No

Still Operational: Not Listed

Visit Instructions:
Please post an original picture of the tower taken while you were there. Please also record how you came to be at this tower and any other interesting information you learned about it while there.
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