Shutty Bench named for Slovak family

A series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names.

A series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

According to Kaslo: The First 100 Years, Shutty Bench, a few kilometers north of the village, was “founded in 1898 by Andrew Shutty and his son Andrew Jr. The Shuttys landed on the beach and ventured half a mile up … They settled on this spot and built a log house.”

The family was from Podbiel, a village now part of northern Slovakia. Their surname was sometimes spelled Schuletty, and appeared that way on CPR timetables from at least 1923 to 1956.

Andrew Sr. (1847-1936) is not in evidence on the 1901 census, but Andrew Jr. (1879-1953) is shown working as a railway foreman on Slocan Lake along with George and Paul Shutty, whose exact relation are unclear.

In 1904, Andrew Sr. sent for his wife Mary (1862-1929) and their children, Sophia (1890-1980), John (1896-1932), and Mary. Andrew Jr. was their elder half-brother. Soon after the Shuttys’ arrival on Kootenay Lake, a forest fire burned all of their benchland. They then surveyed and subdivided the land and sold it to other Slovaks including Joe Surina and John Mikulasik, as well as English settlers such as the Kemballs.

The earliest known mention of Shutty Bench is in the Nelson Daily News of Oct. 12, 1909: “The new wagon road north of Kaslo has been extended 2½ miles further towards the Shutty bench ranching district …” Kaslo: The First 100 Years says “Some people called the area the British Bench, in spite of the large number of Slovak families and a few others like the Koehle brothers from Germany and a Danish settler.”

However, neither name appeared on the 1911 census. Instead, the Shutty family and 31 other people are shown living at a place called Rhonda or Ronda.

The Kaslo Kootenaian of March 30, 1911 said “Capt. [David] Richardson proposes to erect a handsome residence at The Cedars on Rhonda Beach. On April 6, the paper added that “Andy Shutty has the job of clearing 15 acres of fruit land for Robert Hendricks on Rhonda Beach.” And on April 20: “Work commenced Monday evening clearing the wagon road past Rhonda Beach, preparatory to starting the season’s work of extension through that rapidly growing settlement.”

But on June 15, The Cedars was said to be “on Shutty Bench” while later that summer references appeared to Richardson’s Landing and Kemball’s Landing, but the name Rhonda was never used again. On the face of it, it appears to have simply been the beach directly below Shutty Bench, but who was Rhonda?

Four members of the pioneering Shutty family are buried in the Kaslo cemetery. They are also remembered in Shutty (or Schuletty) Creek.

SIX MILE

In the sternwheeler era, Kootenay Lake’s north shore was demarcated in mile posts from the Nelson city wharf. Several of these survive as place names, including One Mile, Four Mile, Nine Mile, and Twelve Mile. (Thirteen Mile was renamed Longbeach.)

But the most prominent is Six Mile. Oddly, it isn’t recognized as a place name by the BC Geographical Names office, but Six Mile is a designated place on the census, and had a population in 2016 of 1,031 — greater than seven incorporated municipalities in West Kootenay/Boundary.

The Six Mile Lakes are at the head of Duhamel Creek, originally called Six Mile Creek, which was first mentioned in the Hot Springs News of Sept. 19, 1891. The current name first appeared in the Nelson Tribune of April 24, 1897: “The Rufus Pope syndicate today secured a group of six claims on Duhamel creek …”

Henry Duhamel (1845-1910) and his son Joseph (1873-1930) received Crown grants that year for land along the creek.

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