This Week in History (1948) – Snow Carnival brings winter cheer

The first annual Prince George Kinsmen Snow Carnival blew into town on Tuesday February 10 and Wednesday February 11, 1948, featuring a schedule so chock-full of events that the local paper dubbed it “one of the biggest winter affairs of its kind ever held in central or northern British Columbia.”1

Organized by the local Kinsmen Club as a fundraiser for their “Food for Britain” service campaign, the carnival opened with an ice show at the Civic Arena on the evening of Tuesday February 10. Over 2,000 spectators packed the arena to watch figure skating performances, speed races, broomball games and comedic routines by skate-clad clowns — all of which kept the capacity crowd clapping and cheering for more. Unfortunately, a warm audience reception couldn’t thaw the fingers or instruments of the Canadian Legion Band, stationed as they were on a corner of the ice surface; they packed up and went home early. “It was a case, as one [band] member put it, of a cornet turning into a trombone,” reported the Prince George Citizen on February 12, 1948.2

Tuesday evening’s entertainment also featured a Snow Queen pageant, in which Miss Sophie Tweten of Prince George beat out Miss Daphne Fowler of Vanderhoof and Miss Lillian Marsh of Quesnel for top honours.

Wednesday’s festivities included a large parade — with Miss Tweten leading the way in a horse-drawn sleigh; a “dog derby” — with local canines unleashed in the streets for a haphazard race; and skills competitions in log sawing and wood chopping (for men) and nail driving (for women). Events wrapped up with a moccasin dance that shook the Civic Arena until the wee hours of Thursday February 12.

A big hit among city residents, the Kinsmen Snow Carnival continued for several years before it morphed into the larger and more elaborate Prince George Winter Carnival. This latter event involved the participation of several local charities, retailers and service groups, the Prince George Kinsmen among them.

Photo of the Prince George Civic Arena circa 1939

The Prince George Civic Arena, located at the corner of 7th Avenue and Quebec Street, housed the indoor events of the annual Kinsmen Snow Carnival until 1956, when the building’s roof collapsed under heavy snow load.
(Photo: The Exploration Place)

Notes:

  1. “Winter Carnival,” Prince George Citizen, 5 February 1948, page 2.
  2. “Instruments freeze as Legion band is forced to quit show,” Prince George Citizen, 12 February 1948, page 1.

Sources:

  • Prince George Citizen:  5 February 1948, pages 2, 8-13, 15-16; 12 February 1948, pages 1, 4-5, 8; 19 February 1948, pages 1, 8; 6 February 1956, page 1.

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