By Kelsey Verboom
A crew excavating the ground for the new Kinsmen Beach washroom facility was pleasantly surprised when their shovels hit the ‘tink’ of glass.
Earlier this month, workers uncovered a clear glass bottle in the soil at Kinsmen Beach, with the words “Liverpool & London. Evans Sons Lescher & Webb Ltd.” etched on the bottle’s bottom.
After researching the etchings, District of Invermere staff and workers at the Windermere Valley Museum estimate the glass vessel to be a medicine bottle from 1902.
The bottle is in excellent condition, with slight soil staining on the inside (see front page photograph).
It has been archived at the museum, where staff hope to learn more about the buried treasure’s history.
The bottle was found across the road from Pynelogs Cultural Centre, which was once a hospital.
The Pynelogs building was originally constructed in 1915 as a family home for Robert Randolph Bruce and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Northcote.
R. R. Bruce was an influential figure in the valley’s history. He promoted land development and encouraged settlers from overseas to make the long journey and move to the Windermere Valley.
Tragically, Lady Elizabeth died before the home was completed. Her grave is tucked to the south of the building and overlooks Lake Windermere.
Following his wife’s sudden death, R.R. Bruce moved to Victoria, where he became Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. He donated his home and the property to the community to be used as a hospital.
The medical centre opened in 1937 as a memorial to Lady Elizabeth, and it stayed running until 1956.
Avy Nicholson, a lifetime resident of the Taynton Bay neighbourhood, speculates that the recently discovered bottle once belonged to either the hospital or to a small morgue that stood near the hospital.
Avy’s mother, Ethel Taynton, worked at the hospital doing laundry. Every day Ethel walked to work along a path from their home on 5th Avenue, skirting what is now the Kinsmen Beach parking lot but was once a slough.
Avy remembers that along the edge of the slough and across from the hospital building (Pynelogs) there were two smaller structures: a morgue and nurses’ quarters.
“The morgue was just a little wood building,” she said. “If the morgue was full, they would temporarily store bodies in the laundry room where my mother worked.”
The bottle could have been waste from the morgue, the hospital, or from someone walking on the pathway.
Avy still lives in Taynton Bay with her husband, Bill “Nick” Nicholson, in the home she grew up in. Her father was Gilbert Taynton, and the neighbourhood that now bears her family’s name was also home to her grandparents, uncles, and extended family.
To view the bottle, visit the museum from 1-4 p.m. on Tuesdays, until the museum opens for spring hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) seven days a week, beginning in June.