A series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Two railway points existed on Kootenay Lake by this name, which comes from a city in northeastern Sudan. British and Egyptian forces commanded by Lord Kitchener won the Battle of Atbara in April 1898 during the Second Sudan War, coinciding with construction of the Bedlington and Nelson Railway. However, the name does not appear to have been adopted until years later.
The original Atbara was between Sirdar and Kootenay Landing on Kootenay Lake’s East Shore. It was first mentioned in the Creston Review on Nov. 19, 1915: “James Blair of Atbara has completed a contract for supplying cordwood for Sirdar residents.”
After this stop was eliminated in 1942, the name Atbara was reassigned to the south side of the Nine Mile Narrows on the West Arm, at a flagstop identified on a 1915 map as Russell’s Spur.
The name remains on the books but is no longer in common use.
A whistlestop on the Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway between Salmo and Ymir, Baskins is noteworthy as one of the few local place names (if not the only one) with a Jewish namesake.
Max Henry Baskin (1886-1967) was a local lumber magnate and close friend and business associate of Doukhobor leader Peter (Lordly) Verigin. When Verigin died in a train explosion in 1924, Baskin delivered the eulogy at his funeral. Baskin was involved in several different companies in the Salmo Valley, including Baskin Lumber Co., Baskin and Stedman, and Baskin-Gevurtz Lumber Co.
His namesake siding is listed in Roger Burrows’ Railway Mileposts: British Columbia Vol. II. While no other references to it have been found, it would have existed in the 1920s.
This spot on the north side of Kootenay Lake’s West Arm, a little east of the Harrop ferry landing and directly south of Redfish school, shows up on a modern map of old steamer landings. While no contemporary references have yet been found, it was named for Charles Begg (1856-1945), who received a Crown grant for Lot 7079 in 1906. The 1911 census found the Scottish-born Charles, 54, and son Robert, 25, ranching at what the enumerator considered to be Balfour.
The name is long forgotten.
Another obscure spot on Kootenay Lake, somewhere around Deanshaven, which appeared on the CPR timetable by 1914. It was listed in the 1918 Wrigley’s directory as “a landing on Kootenay Lake, reached by CPR lake steamers” but the exact location was not clarified. It wasn’t listed the following year and is no longer in use. Ben Ledi (from the Scottish Gaelic Beinn Leitir) is a mountain in Perthshire, Scotland.
A log jam on the upper Duncan River, ten miles below Hall Creek, was so large it earned its own place name.
Big Jam appears on Perry’s Mining Map of West Kootenay, produced in March 1893. It was first mentioned in the Nelson Tribune of May 18 of that year: “Frank Heap was in Nelson yesterday, coming down on the Ainsworth from Lardo. Mr. Heap has established a store at the Big Jam in Duncan river and reports business lively there, as over 200 prospectors are in that neighbourhood.” The same issue carried a call from those prospectors for a mining recorder to be stationed at Big Jam. They would not get their wish.
Heap also established an hotel there, which he operated with his wife Martha. In the spring of 1894, they paddled 60 miles in a canoe down river to a frozen Duncan Lake, then to Kootenay Lake, then to Kaslo. It took two weeks. They later relocated to Ainsworth, where Frank worked the Pontiac mine. The last reference to Big Jam was in the Sandon Paystreak of Aug. 26, 1899.
A railway siding on the west side of Kootenay Lake’s south arm, roughly opposite La France Creek. According to Roger Burrows’ book, mentioned above, “This station may have been named after W.G. Blake who was the first Anglican missionary in the area.”
William George Blake (1871-?) was actually a Presbyterian minister, stationed at Ymir in 1911, Creston from 1912-15, and then Nakusp. He also served in Hamilton from 1925-34 and at Bowmanville, Ont.
The earliest mention of the name was in the Creston Review of Feb. 13, 1931: “Mrs. Frank Garrett of Blake, BC, was a weekend visitor here …”
The name was officially adopted in 1947. It’s still recognized as a railway point, but little known.