By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

Countdown is ticking for the installation of a timely new local landmark

Quick, rhyme off the most famous municipal clocks you can think of: the majestic Big Ben in London, the ancient Orloj Astronomical Clock in Prague, the stately Peace Tower in Ottawa, and Invermere’s iconic freestanding downtown clock.

Wait a minute, you say: the downtown Invermere clock? Yes indeed, the downtown Invermere clock. It’s not a reality at the moment, but it could very well be soon, perhaps as early as this summer. And no, it won’t be as grand or as spectacular as Big Ben, the Astronomical Clock, or the Peace Tower — those are actual clock towers after all. And truth be told, it probably won’t quite match other famous freestanding city clocks, such as the puffing Gastown Steam Clock in Vancouver or the shiny, round opal glass Grand Central Terminal Clock in New York. But still, it will be an unmissable local landmark, sure to make Invermere’s already charming downtown that much more appealing to both residents and visitors.

The clock is the idea of Columbia Valley dentist Jim Guild, his partner Robin Britton, and Doug Kipp in memory of former Invermere resident Kris Scamen (Anderson). Guild explained to the Pioneer that his work as a dentist has taken him all around the country, including many places in Canada’s north, where a number of communities have freestanding analog municipal clocks in their downtown core. These clocks — also known as post clocks or street clocks — have always struck Guild as great landmarks, being both decorative and functional.

He described one in particular, in Whitehorse, up in the Yukon, to the Pioneer. “I would walk to work in Whitehorse, and would always go past the clock. It was nice. I sometimes didn’t wear a watch at that time, but that didn’t matter, you always knew the time when you saw the clock. And it really did add a great touch to the downtown there. We’ve always thought it would be great to have one like that in Invermere. There are plenty of great spots it could go, by the intersection by the banks, for instance.”

Guild, Britton and Kipp have offered to purchase the clock, and gift it to the District of Invermere to install downtown.

The idea was received very enthusiastically by Invermere council during its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

“This was a nice surprise,” Invermere planner, Rory Hromadnik, told councillors, confirming that Guild, Britton and Kipp are keen to have it installed this coming summer, if possible. Hromadnik has checked with the district electrical contractor and with the architect helping the district with its downtown revitalization and both have given the post clock a thumbs up. He also pointed out that the clock itself would likely cost around $7,500, and that factoring in things such as decorative details and shipping, the total value of the gift is likely closer to $10,000.

“I think this is great, and more than generous. It’s an awesome offer,” said Councillor Greg Anderson. 

Councillor Gerry Taft added that in an increasingly digital world, there are potential educational benefits in having an analog clock with Roman numerals in the downtown.