Monday, 27 March 2017

West Kootenays, B.C.: Historical Place Names & Pictures

When I lived in small town Alberta, an elderly neighbour told me she grew up in Nelson, B.C. It is a beautiful part of southeastern British Columbia and often referred to as God's country. But then, wherever you called home is often referred to as a corner of heaven.

Nelson, B.C.
© Penny Allen
My neighbour talked about the dirt roads, the orchards and oh, how she loved the plentiful fruit and the trips (ca 1920s) on the paddlewheeler!  What an interesting time! A friend of the family told me about a recent column in the local newspaper, the Nelson Star, called 'A West Kootenay place names primer', written by Greg Nesteroff. Greg started the column in March 2013 and the recent article dated 25 March 2017 is the 172nd in the series.  (The Nelson Daily News ran from 1902-2010 and afterwards the Nelson Star started publication twice weekly.)  

In the Introduction to the series he gives a description of the purpose and an idea of the naming practice of some of the communities:
"In West Kootenay Boundary, names were bestowed when a townsite was staked, a railway was pushed through, steamboat service commenced, or a post office opened. Often the names were after early settlers, CPR officials, mines, or geographic features. Some were named after other places, some to inspire settlement, and others to honour prominent people who may never have actually visited. Of course, many of these same places already had First Nations names. Not many are still in use, but the ones that are — Kootenay, Kokanee, Slocan, Nakusp, and possibly Kaslo — are among the most intriguing on the local map. One subset of names unique to this area are those given by the Doukhobors, although only two — Ootischenia and Krestova — remain in widespread use."
A sample of the place names covered in the articles: 
Ainsworth; Alamo; Aylwin; Balfour; Bealby Point (aka Florence Park); Belford; Blewett; Beaverdell; Billings; Bosworth; Cariboo City; Carrolls Landing; Clubb Landing; Comaplix; Deadwood; Deanshaven; English Cove; English Point; Fauquier; Ferguson; Forslund; Fosthall; Galena Bay; Gerrard; Green City; Greenwood; Halcyon Hot Springs; Hall Siding; Harrop; Hartford Junction; Hills; Hudu Valley; Inonoaklin Valley (aka Fire Valley); Jersey; Johnsons Landing; Jubilee Point; Kaslo; Kuskonook; Longbeach; Lardeau.    Larger communities covered are: Castlegar, Grand Forks, Nelson, New Denver and Salmo.  

He also provides books for further research:
- British Columbia Place Names, by G.P.V. and Helen Akrigg, 3 editions pub. 1986, 1988, 1997
- a newer edition with the same name by Mark Thorburn pub. 2010

Greg also wrote an article in Nov. 2011 about the digitization of Nelson and area newspapers, (ca. 1890-1900s), the British Columbia Historical Newspapers Project, provided by the University of British Columbia.

Included in the Kootenay-Boundary collection are these titles:  The Ledge (Nelson), The Miner (Nelson), Nelson Daily Miner, The Nelson Economist, Nelson Weekly Miner, The Tribune (Nelson), Sandon Mining Review, New Denver Ledge and Ainsworth Hot Springs News. 

Lost Kootenays plumbs local nostalgia - a 2013 article reviewing the Facebook page Lost Kootenays. Their mandate is to provide pictures for educational purposes only and are very careful to point out copyright rules.
"Welcome to a journey in space and in time into the heart of the Kootenays. We will be posting historical Kootenay images, but you can also expect to see recent images from time to time. We may even make side trips to areas outside the Kootenays that residents commonly visit - Southern Alberta and Northern Idaho/Washington." 
In 2013, this Facebook page had 5,000 followers and now there are 28,600 followers! 
Do you have any memories and pictures to share with this group?

UK to Canada Genealogy Index Page

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