A ghost city of Cranbrook is visible just under the surface — and the photographic record brings back to life the decades, the people and the culture gone by.
Keith Powell, a Cranbrook author and publisher, who has written a number of books about historical aspects of the Cranbrook area, has produced a new book in association with the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History — “Forgotten Cranbrook” ” — which tells Cranbrook’s story through historical photographs.
Powell, who sits on the board of the CBIRH, had been thinking about the project for a good while, before setting out to compile photos and publish it this year.
“I was looking for a project,” Powell told the Townsman, “and I thought, why don’t we do a photo book? Something to raise the profile of the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History and showcase what they’ve got. What better way to do that than with a book.
“Cranbrook has a rich history, like any community. I thought there was a niche, or an opportunity to publish something like this, that’s Cranbrook specific. We have the history and the population to achieve it.”
Powell had also reached out to the public for submissions of interesting historical photographs, but the large majority of them came from the Institute’s own collection.
In collaboration with the Institute’s executive director, Erin Knudsen, and Derryll White of the CBIRH, Powell started off with 1,000 images, which was pared down to 250, and pared down again to 125. Powell, Knudsen and White then divided up the task of researching and compiling the captions for each photograph.
“Forgotten Cranbrook” starts its story in the early days of Cranbrook as a community — from 1880-1885 or so, and proceeds through the years until the early 1960s. Powell says this covers the era of Cranbrook’s foundation, early development, and initial transformation. Subsequent decades — the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, etc — could be subject matter for another book, perhaps.
The book was published through Powell’s own company, Wild Horse Creek Press, and funded by him. It was printed by Saskatoon-based Houghton Boston Printers, with an initial run of 1,000 copies. It seems there is already an interest in it. Huckleberry Books in Cranbrook sold out its initial stock and had to quickly order more copies. Powell has set up a number of other locations like Canadian Tire, Kootenay Grounds, Hot Shots Cafe and Pages Book Emporium where the book is being sold.
A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History.
To order obtain your copy of the book visit your local book retailer, the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History or email Keith Powell at email@example.com.