Donald Trump’s grandfather Friedrich Trump ran a restaurant, bar, and brothel in British Columbia.
Buried in a ghost town in Canada’s subarctic are the roots of the family fortune that paved Donald Trump’s path to prominence. Only shards of glass bottles remain on the lake shore in Bennett, British Columbia—remnants perhaps of the lively establishment operated by Trump’s grandfather that was known for good food, booze and ready women. A church sits further up the slope, its lonely spire peeking out from a thicket of pines.
Bennett was once a thriving transit point for prospectors in the Klondike gold rush at the turn of the 20th century, and Friedrich Trump made a killing running a restaurant and bar. The nest egg he generated in just two years grew into the fortune that has supported his grandson’s bid for the U.S. presidency.
“Who else can say that someone running for president of the United States of America owes his fortune to your hometown?,” says Scott Etches, 55, a shop owner hawking Trump t-shirts in Whitehorse, Yukon, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Bennett. “It doesn’t matter whether you support or oppose Trump. It’s actually a great history.”
More than a century after Trump’s grandfather left the Yukon, Canadian developers and entrepreneurs are torn over whether to exploit the connection to one of the most recognized surnames on the planet. A luxury wilderness resort is planned for Bennett, complete with a lodge that would look just like Trump’s watering hole.
“There’s so much history, so many stories around here—Trump is just one of them,” says Nelson Lepine, who runs the development arm of an indigenous group leading the project.
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