Phoenix, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 49° 05.974 W 118° 35.477
11U E 383843 N 5439743
Quick Description: The city of Phoenix is no more. The townsite is now just a big hole in the ground, the final result of open pit mining of copper ore.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 9/5/2014 3:06:41 PM
Waymark Code: WMMDMJ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 3

Long Description:
Incorporation for the town of Phoenix came about in 1898. It was a company town, created by Granby Consolidated Mining, which owned and operated the Phoenix Copper Mine adjacent to the town on the top of Phoenix Mountain. At an elevation of 4,630 feet above sea level, it once advertised itself as "Canada's Highest City". The Phoenix hockey team won the provincial championship, in 1911 and some historians believe that Phoenix was home to the first women’s hockey team. Things went smoothly for the town until the end of The Great War.

Just after World War I the town/city of Phoenix had a population of about 4,000 souls, with all the facilities and amenities one would expect to find in a town of its size. The lifeblood of the town was still the Phoenix Copper Mine, still owned and operated by Granby Consolidated Mining. With the end of the war the price of copper crashed, forcing a shutdown of the mine on June 14, 1919. The mine ultimately produced 13,678,901 tonnes of ore. Plans for a cenotaph to honour the fifteen local men who had died in the war were already under way. To pay for it, lumber and steel from the town's hockey arena were sold, raising $1,200, enough to pay for the cenotaph and donate $400 to the Grand Forks Legion, the nearest legion at the time.

With the closing of the mine, the townspeople drifted away, leaving Phoenix nearly totally deserted when the mine reopened in the 1950s. Previously an underground mine, this time it became an open pit mine, swallowing up what remained of the town. All that is left as a reminder that a town once stood on the mountain is the large open pit, now with a lake forming in the bottom, and the tall stone cenotaph, a memorial to both the fifteen who did not return, and to the town itself.

If you wish to visit the townsite and the cenotaph, simply head up the mountain east from Greenwood on Greenwood Street, which becomes Phoenix Road, for about 5 or 6 kilometres. You'll eventually see the open pit on your right and the cenotaph on the left, beside the road. Back down the road one kilometre or so are two cemeteries, the main Phoenix Cemetery and a smaller one with about five headstones, including that of William H. Bambury, the last resident of Phoenix. Bambury was born in England in 1967, the same year that Canada was born, and passed away in Greenwood in 1951.

Phoenix's Last Residents

...Meanwhile, Phoenix boomed until the copper market fell out in the late teens. When the last ore was shipped in 1919, thousands promptly exited the mountain city, most leaving behind their homes and belongings, and Phoenix instantly became the largest ghost town Canada had ever seen. When the final death knell sounded for the city, a trio of legendary bachelors refused to forsake the ghost city: the eccentric William Bambury, an unforgettable fellow by the name of Adolph Sercu, better known to Boundary Country folks as Forepaw or “4 Paw”, and Denzler.

Bambury was an Englishman who came to Canada in 1887. After spending several years in Nelson, B.C. trying to make a go out of a boat repair business, he came to Phoenix in either 1900 or 1902. His life during the boom times of Phoenix is a mystery to old-timers, but Bambury certainly became a legend when the city became the ghost city of the Boundary.

For years, he lived tax and rent free in the old home of Dr. Boucher. While Denzler was renowned for his immaculate quarters in the ghost city, Bambury was notorious for his lack of housekeeping skills. Somehow Bambury eked out of living in the ghost town, salvaging lumber and metal. Sometimes, he got the odd maintenance job along the highway outside Greenwood.

As eccentric as Bambury was, he had good company when it came to Forepaw, a Belgian who came to the United States in the 1890s, and then to the Boundary Country and Phoenix shortly before the turn of the century. He was also a prospector, and found a claim near the city in 1900. Although his legal surname was Sercu, he was always called Forepaw, and even signed his name as “4 Paw”.

When Phoenix closed, a fund was set up to appoint a watchman over the ghost city and Forepaw enthusiastically accepted the role. He moved right in to the still stately city hall building where he set himself up as mayor, chief of police and magistrate. Forepaw was determined to earn his keep and make it known to all visitors of the ghost city he was the law. It was also clear to many former residents Forepaw wanted to continue the legacy of Phoenix’s colorful magistrate, Judge Willie Williams, famous for his booming declaration, “I am the highest judge, in the highest court, in the highest city in Canada.”

Phoenix was since reduced to a ghost city, but Forepaw still wanted his authority established beyond a doubt and walked the deserted streets with a Billy club in his one hand while wearing a home-made star on his chest, cut from a vegetable tin.

One by one, Phoenix’s last trio of residents passed on. Denzler died in 1944, while Forepaw passed away two years earlier. Forepaw’s death was front page news in the Grand Forks Gazette, with a headline, ‘The Mayor and Host of Phoenix Has Given Last Welcome to Famous Camp”. His remains were laid to rest in the old Phoenix cemetery. It also became known to locals that Forepaw, who always remained close to three brothers in Belgium, had recently lost a huge estate inheritance to the German Nazis when Hitler invaded his native country in 1940. Forepaw gave little thought to it, and told friends he would rather have “peace in Phoenix than a dazzling fortune in Belgium under rule of Hitler.”

Bambury was left alone to watch over Phoenix. But in late 1949, the 82-year-old bachelor realized that he could no longer survive the Phoenix winters and rented a room at Greenwood’s Windsor Hotel. Bambury died in December, 1951, and was laid to rest in the old cemetery. Phoenix was now alone with the ghosts.
From Ghost Town Pix


Reason for Abandonment: Economic

Date Abandoned: 6/14/1919

Related Web Page: [Web Link]

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