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2 March 2010

Commemoration of 1910 Avalanche Victims on Thursday

Railway workers dig out a train following the 4 Mar 1910 avalanche.

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Revelstoke British Columbia - This Thursday, 4 Mar 2010, will mark the 100th anniversary of Canada's largest avalanche accident, which killed 58 men near the summit of Rogers Pass. In a blizzard on that night in 1910, while about 60 workers cleared a trench on the train tracks of the snow from an avalanche, a second slide came down from the other side of the valley and took 58 lives. To commemorate the tragedy, there will be a memorial service in Grizzly Plaza on 4 Mar 2010, at 7 p.m.
"It really is a memorial for the 58 men who died and also a recognition that 100 years before and since this community has been deeply affected by avalanches," said Cathy English, curator of the Revelstoke Museum and Archives and one of the organizers of the ceremony.
Along with the museum, the event is organized by the Canadian Avalanche Association, the Canadian Avalanche Centre, Canadian Pacific Railway, Columbia Basin Trust, the Friends of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier, Parks Canada, and the Revelstoke Railway Museum.
Thirty-two of the men who died that day were Japanese and in the 1910 memorial service their names were read separately from those of the white men who died.
This year, the names of all the men who died will be read together, in alphabetical order, by the descendants of two of the men who were involved:  Mannosuke Yamaji, who died in the avalanche, and roadmaster John Anderson, who survived.
The ceremony will also include a Buddhist chant led by Bishop Orai Fujikawa of the Vancouver Buddhist Temple and a prayer read by Reverend Ken Jones.
"Using both Christian and Buddhist traditions, the program is going to pay respects to the lives that were lost," said Jacolyn Daniluk of Parks Canada. "It's going to celebrate how far we've come in avalanche control since that time."

The culmination of the "Fold and Unfold a Wish" paper crane project will also be a part of the ceremony, with thousands of cranes on display.
The project, initiated by Yuko Fujimura, began with the belief that if you create what is called a Senbazuru by folding one thousand paper cranes and linking them together, your wish will come true.
The wish the community will make will be "to never see such a tragedy again."
More than 5,000 cranes have been folded for the project and folding paper's have gone out across the country. Revelstoke schools, the Senior Citizen's Association, Community Connections, individual families, businesses, and several other organizations have all folded cranes for the project.
"The whole crane project has been phenomenal, the way it has engaged people in this part of our history," English said.
Residents are also advised to prepare for the howitzer salute at around 8 p.m. It will be fired twice and will be extremely loud so keep pets inside and prepare young children.
The service will include addresses by the Mayor David Raven, the Japanese consul general, Canadian Pacific, the Canadian Avalanche Association, and the Canadian Avalanche Centre, to name only a few of the presentations. There will also be several songs and a candle lighting ceremony.
"It will be a very moving ceremony," English said, adding: "dress warmly and bring blankets."
Katie Findlay.

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