The old Aylwin home in New Denver

“Through the Walls of Time” — eighth in a series on West Kootenay-Boundary place names

Greg Nesteroff's latest historical submission, as included in the April 25 edition of the West Kootenay Advertiser

 

By Greg Nesteroff

Aylwin City was intended to serve the Enterprise mine in the Slocan. Formerly known as Ten Mile and sometimes misspelled Alywin, Alwyn, or Alwin, the name honoured brother hoteliers George and Charlie Aylwin of New Denver.

According to Elsie Turnbull in Ghost Towns & Drowned Towns of West Kootenay, “Charlie Aylwin built a boardinghouse for the 30 or so men who worked at the mine and named the community after himself.”

The name first appeared in the New Denver Ledge of January 7, 1897: “The hotel at Aylwin City, on Ten Mile was opened to the world this week.”

On May 22 of that year, the Sandon Paystreak indicated some doubt about the name: “A new townsite is being formed on Ten Mile Creek, near the Enterprise group by J. Lukov of Trail and J. Fleischman, Vancouver. The name of the town is not yet settled on.”

But on June 19, the Sandon Mining Review confirmed it: “C.E. Wood, PLS is at present engaged in a survey of the townsite of Aylwin on Ten Mile Creek, near the Enterprise mine. Lots are being staked off and it is expected that they will be on the market within a few days.”

On June 26 a Slocan Pioneer reporter wrote the townsite survey was complete and said the “owners and projectors” were “Mr. Aylwin of New Denver, Fleishmann of Vancouver and G.J. Mighton of Hamilton. There is already a good hotel, a large store run by E. Parris & Co. of Slocan City, and a blacksmith shop … Charlie Aylwin, who is keeping the hotel, in his leisure moments looks on the ground that is being cleared and dreams of red school houses and churches with steeples and stock exchanges and railroad depots.”

A post office application was submitted, and the New Denver Ledge of July 22, 1897 reported it was “likely to be established here in a few days,” but it never opened.

Henderson’s directory for 1898 listed Aylwin as “A new townsite near the Enterprise mine, five miles east of Slocan Lake” but otherwise little was heard of it over the next two years.

The hotel closed at some point but reopened, according to the Ledge of July 6, 1899. On November 9 the paper reported: “Aylwin, the upper townsite on Ten Mile, is a busy little burg, owing to the operations of W.C.E. Koch’s sawmill.”

Ads for the Enterprise Hotel at Aylwin also appeared in the Ledge from May to August 1900. The final mention was in the Paystreak of July 5, 1902: “John A. Craig of Aylwin is spending a holiday in town.”

The Ledge of December 11, 1902, however, showed George Aylwin held the liquor license for the Enterprise Hotel at Enterprise. Was this an error or had the hotel moved? The rival Enterprise townsite was about a mile from Aylwin.

Nothing is left at Aylwin City, though the Aylwin home still stands in New Denver.

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