The Tourist Park Site
As early as 1911 the Cranbrook Board of Trade appointed a committee, chaired by C.A. Cock, to secure a site for a recreation park. The did select a site at the east end of Baker Street, immediately back of the Government Building. Not yet on the market as city lots, representatives of the Board of Trade approached the Townsite company about purchasing some thirty lots in this location. This deal fell through but other organizations and businesses moved forward with plans, among them H. Lunn who in 1912 opened the Riverview Outing Place on St. Mary's Lake.
Cranbrook remained without an official tourist park through 1924, but the pressures of the growing tourist trade forced some compromise. An unofficial tourist park developed along Joseph's Creek, above the trout hatchery and outside the city limits. Meanwhile The Fernie Board of Trade in 1921 negotiated the use of a piece of land near the railroad tracks for the exclusive use of auto tourists to Fernie. They constructed a building containing a cooking range and laundry tubs, as well as another containing flush toilets. Associated with this three separate sites, each with its own fireplace, were prepared.
The automotive tourist traffic grew quickly. The Cranbrook Board of Trade had opened a tourist office and in 1921 gave maps and information to 785 people, while 283 separate parties used the free tourist camp. The Board of Trade that year spent $118.30 developing these same grounds. The month of August averaged four cars night, with as many as twelve vehicles on some nights. People were starting to camp along the roadside. The committee urged expansion of the tourist camp to accommodate the rapidly growing tourist traffic.
J.P. Fink, president of the Cranbrook Board of Trade, said on February 24, 1922 that:
"I think we can now look forward to the completion of the Banff-Windermere road this fall and with the completion of this already well advertised road will come a mighty wave of tourists, the number of which, I think, will be much in excess of any estimate which we might now make so that it behooves us to get busy now if we expect to care for these tourists as we would wish."
In the summer of 1922 a park bylaw was presented to City of Cranbrook residents. It passed, supported by an enthusiastic and newly-formed Rotary Club. The City spent an additional $1,845.00 to consolidate the block, eventually to be known as Rotary Park.