A series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
We’ve previously looked at Shirley, an area on Granite Road west of Nelson, whose name has long since fallen out of use.
The book Granite Road Memories tells us Shirley was named after resident Nelson Menzies’ “hometown in England.” But while there are four places in England named Shirley, Menzies was actually Scottish — and there don’t appear to be any Shirleys in Scotland.
If doubt exists about Shirley’s namesake, at least we now know exactly when it was chosen: Aug. 22, 1912. On that day Granite Road ranchers met in the local hall “for the purpose of deciding on a name for the district between Granite station and Nelson.”
The following day, the Nelson Daily News reported that “among the many names put forward that of Shirley was carried by a large majority.” Maddeningly, no further explanation was provided.
The building where the meeting was held became known as the Shirley Hall, and was maintained until 1984 by the Granite Road Women’s Institute. It was finally torn down perhaps a decade ago.
The name Shirley survives, in limited use, as a beach along the Kootenay River that was once the site of a slaughterhouse operated by cattle king Pat Burns.
We revisited it to note that school teacher Charlotte Alice (Lottie) Coates was credited with picking the name in 1912. We can now add that it came after developers McQuarrie and Robertson asked for suggestions.
Coates’ letter was reprinted in the company’s ads in the Daily News.
“As a beautiful and appropriate name for your subdivision, for which you are advertising for a name, I beg to suggest that of Rosemont,” she wrote. “When the property becomes, as it undoubtedly will, one of the choicest residential portions of the city, it will only be a short time until the residents will have made it a veritable mount of roses.
“What name then more suitable for a property of this kind than one which calls to mind the lovely flowers for whose culture city of Nelson is already noted?’
Coates added that Rosemont brought to mind “a pleasing picture of lovely homes, surrounded by spacious grounds where the queen of flowers flourishes in all the varied beauty of which she is capable.”
In a previous installment we noted the name Bruce Gardens was once used interchangeably with the Castlegar neighbourhood of Blueberry Creek, but had no idea who Bruce was.
Now we can identify him: Robert Bruce Scott (1878-1941) gave his address as Bruce Gardens when he checked in to Nelson’s Hume Hotel on Aug. 4, 1908, the earliest use of the name.
Scott was a partner in the Western Canada Investment Co. and involved in selling fruit lands on the Arrow Lakes, amongst other properties. By 1912, he moved to Toronto and Bruce Gardens appears to have fallen out of use with his departure. Its last known mention is in the Nelson Daily News of July 1, 1913.
CHRISTIE’S LANDING, REVISITED
Our look at Oatescott, on the west side of Lower Arrow Lake, noted that it was previously known as Christie’s Landing.
The book Whistle Stops Along the Columbia Narrows suggested it was named for Alex Christian, or Christie (1873-1924), a prominent Sinixt man who lived at Brilliant. That made some sense, since the Arrow Lakes Indian Reserve was established at Christie’s Landing in 1902.
However, it may have actually been named for J.H. Christie, mentioned in the Nelson Daily News of Dec. 11, 1902 as living at Christie’s Landing. He was then passing through Nelson with Rossland namesake Ross Thompson.
It’s still not clear exactly when Christie’s Landing became Oatescott, but it was between 1915 and 1918.
THE LAST WORD ON SOUTH SLOCAN
We’ve been after the earliest reference to South Slocan for some time, with hopes of learning when and why the name replaced Slocan Junction.
However, the earliest reference in the recently-digitized Nelson Daily News of June 20, 1912 merely remarks in passing on “Slocan Junction, now changed by the CPR to South Slocan” but provides no explanation.
We may never know the reason for the switch. In any case, the two names were used synonymously for many years.