Cominco, West Kootenay Power, perpetuated in place names

Place Names: Consolidated Mining and Smelting (CM&S) became Cominco, then Teck-Cominco, then Teck

Cominco got its name in a 1940 contest to name the employee magazine. It was derived from Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. Earnie the Elephant, the mascot of Elephant brand fertilizer, was in use from the 1940s, but was not trademarked until 1960.

Three hundred twenty-fourth in a series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names and brand names

Recently we looked at consumer products and businesses that used the name Kootenay.

Among other noteworthy company and brand names in our area, Teck was formerly Teck-Cominco, Cominco, and Consolidated Mining and Smelting.

The latter was formed in 1906 by the amalgamation of the Trail smelter (formerly the Canadian Smelting Works), the St. Eugene mine at Moyie, Rossland Power Company, and the Centre Star and War Eagle mines at Rossland.

It was commonly abbreviated CM&S, the first known use of which was in a stock listing in the Victoria Daily Times of Dec. 27, 1916.

Cominco, meanwhile, was the result of a contest held to name the employee magazine. While it had apparently been used informally for a while prior, no earlier examples have turned up before the February 1940 issue of Cominco Magazine.

The company registered the name Cominco as a trademark in 1957 and officially adopted it 1966 to replace Consolidated Mining and Smelting.

In 1986, Teck Co. (established in 1913 in Ontario as Teck-Hughes Gold Mines Ltd.) bought a controlling interest in Cominco and in July 2001 the two companies merged to become Teck Cominco.

Teck Cominco started to rebrand itself as Teck in October 2008 and the company name was officially changed to Teck Resources Ltd. in April 2009. RIP Cominco.

This didn’t sit well with many longtime Trail residents and smelter employees. Former mayor and retired executive Marc Marcolin called the name change “very sad.”

“You can’t work for a company as good as Cominco for 43 years without having a strong feeling for it,” he told the Trail Times.

Jamie Forbes, then-president of the Trail Historical Society, wasn’t surprised as he’d always heard that Teck never liked the association with Cominco.

However, more than a decade after the last name change, many people (mostly from outside of Trail) still refer to the company as Teck Cominco. The name also lives on in the Cominco Arena, the company’s gift to the community that opened in 1949.

Teck still owns the Cominco name, having renewed the trademark through 2032. They also own several old logos, including the Cominco cog wheel design, registered in 1967 and renewed through 2027. The Teck Cominco logo, registered in 2006, expires in 2031.

• Cominco was responsible for a couple of noteworthy brand names, one of which is also the name of a Trail neighbourhood.

The company applied to trademark Tadanac for its metals products on March 23, 1916 and was approved on April 10 of that year. But it wasn’t until a year later that the first ads appeared for “Tadanac brand pig lead, bluestone, copper, and spelter [zinc].”

In June 1917, the railway station known variously as Smelter, Trail Smelter, or Smelter Junction was renamed Tadanac. In 1922, the smelter and its adjacent residential neighbourhood broke away from Trail to become a company-owned district municipality. Following much acrimony, Tadanac rejoined Trail in 1969.

Although no longer used as a brand name, Teck still owns the Tadanac trademark, which has been renewed through 2032.

CM&S filed a trademark application for Elephant brand fertilizer in 1931. Mascot Earnie the Elephant was trademarked in 1960, but expired in 1995. Agrium of Calgary (formerly Cominco Fertilizers) still holds the Elephant brand trademark, which runs through 2027.

• West Kootenay Power and Light, established in 1897, became a Cominco subsidiary in 1916. At some point the company dropped “and Light” from its name.

UtiliCorp United Inc. of Kansas City bought West Kootenay Power in 1987 but kept the name until 2001, when it became UtiliCorp Networks Canada. A year later it was changed to Aquila Networks Canada, and in 2003 — upon the company’s sale to Fortis Inc. of Newfoundland — it became FortisBC.

• The Granby Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co., formed in 1899, took its name from Granby, Quebec (not Grandby, as it is often misspelled), home of company co-founder S.H.C. Miner.

Granby operated mines at Phoenix from 1899-1919 and 1959-76 as well as the smelter at Grand Forks from 1900-19. The north fork of the Kettle River was officially renamed the Granby River in 1915.

The name is further perpetuated in Granby Park north of Grand Forks as well as Granby Bay, Granby Point, and Granby Peninsula near Anyox, in coastal Observatory Inlet, where the company also operated.

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Cominco used this cogwheel logo from 1967 until 2001, when it merged with Teck.

Teck Cominco used this logo between 2001 and 2008, when it rebranded as Teck.

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