West Kootemay Advertiser
Seventy-third in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Gloster City, also spelled Glouster and Gloucester, and also known as Glouster Camp and Upper Franklin, was a mining town on Lot 3672, about 37 miles (60 km) north of Grand Forks along the Kettle River.
The town, along with Gloucester Creek, took its name from the Gloucester claim, which in turn was presumably after the city and district of southwest England, although there are many other places by that name.
According to Charles W. Drysdale’s Geology of Franklin Mining Camp, Thomas Newby located the Gloucester and adjoining claims in the summer of 1898. The earliest known mention of the place is in the Nelson Tribune of August 15, 1901: “All that Franklin requires is railway transportation … The same applies to Gloucester and McKinley camps in the same locality.”
When the Kettle Valley Railway announced it would build a line up the North Fork, Grand Forks mayor Frank H. Hutton and partner George B. Todd hired Greenwood surveyor F.M. Lamb to lay out a townsite for them at the projected terminus, known as Upper Franklin — as distinct from Franklin, another town a little over three miles south, named after Frank McFarlane (1865-1935).
The Upper Franklin plat was completed in June 1906 but soon renamed Gloster City, probably at the behest of the Franklin Townsite Co. The two places were rivals, as shown by a letter from the latter’s agent, A. Erskine Smith, published in the Greenwood Ledge of July 5, 1906: “The day when a prosperous town could be built on hot air has gone by and the kind of stuff sent out from Gloster City is a detriment to all legitimate enterprises, such as is the Franklin Townsite Co.”
Another volley was fired a month later when George Todd’s application for a hotel liquor license at Gloster was denied while four others were granted at nearby Franklin, Bannock City, Timville, and a place halfway between Franklin and Gloster called Dinsmore. Todd appealed to the courts. The judge said he “could hardly see on what principle the commissioners acted in refusing Todd and granting all the others.”
Todd won his case and his license, but must not have held it more than a few years, for the Grand Forks Sun of May 8, 1914 stated: “Gloucester City, near the Union mine in the North Fork country, at present is reputed to be the most moral and law abiding city in Canada. It has one temperance hotel, but both the church and the saloon are conspicuous by their absence.”
The promised railway, meanwhile, only got as far as Lynch Creek, 25 miles (40 km) south of Franklin. A post office application for Gloster was filed in 1913, but rejected, so citizens hired a private carrier.
Mining continued in the vicinity for many years, but neither Franklin nor Gloster City survived.