A series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Resuming our look at neighbourhood names, we come to Castlegar.
The original townsite, platted in 1897, was part of what’s now considered downtown. The original north-south avenue names reflected a mineral theme: Granite (now 11th), Quartz (now 10th), Broadway (9th), Iron (8th), Steel (7th), Galena (6th), Mercury (5th), Cobalt (4th), Platinum (3rd), and Park (2nd). The east-west streets were tree-themed: Cedar (now 1st), Main (2nd), Pine (3rd), Maple (4th), and Elm (5th). Main and Broadway were both surveyed as wider thoroughfares.
Townsite owner Edward Mahon, who named Castlegar after his Irish ancestral home, made a deal with Fritz Augustus Heinze to contribute 12 blocks from Heinze’s Columbia and Western Railway grant toward the townsite. Upon this land, Copper, Nickel, and Silver avenues were planned on the west. However, these streets never actually came to be, as the approach for the railway bridge across the Columbia River cut through them in 1902.
Heinze sold most of his local interests, including the Trail smelter, to the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1898. Mahon then sold the even-numbered townsite lots to the CPR, which stunted Castlegar’s development, as the railway monolith wasn’t inclined to pursue a joint real estate venture. It took many years for the deadlock to be broken so Castlegar could begin to grow in earnest.
In 1921, parts of the Heinze land grant were pinched off, subdivided, and offered for sale by the Crown. This included land northwest of the original townsite, across the present railway overpass bridge on Columbia Avenue, now home to the Old Theatre and other businesses. However, this neighbourhood doesn’t seem to have ever had its own name. Its streets are Crescent and 1st plus King Avenue.
Historian Walter Volovsek notes several irregularities bedeviled the townsite, beginning when the CPR had the former Heinze addition resurveyed and the original Pine Street was lost (it resurfaced in the 1950s).
“An incorrect bearing was propagated through several properties, leading to a wedge of no man’s land between Castlegar Drugs and Acklands and the misalignment of the Bank of Commerce building,” Volovsek says. “There were also incorrect road allowances to deal with, some of which still persist.”
Robert McGauley subdivided Block 68 in 1944 and had the street named after him, but it’s now Fir Street. It was, Volovsek says, “an odd throwback at Edward Mahon’s original tree and mineral nomenclature which has almost all been replaced by silly numbers — several times and in a different progression.”
Meanwhile, Arrow Lakes Drive is a bit of a world unto itself. While connected to downtown by a pedestrian tunnel, by vehicle you leave downtown via Columbia Avenue and then double back. Ferry and Prince Avenues and Lakeview Street are also part of this subdivision.
Downtown’s southern boundary is Sherbiko Hill, which is perhaps more a geographic feature than a neighbourhood, although it is identified as a discrete area in the city’s official community plan. It’s named after Nicholas Sherbiko (or Scherbekov) (1872-1945), whose farm was at the top of the hill.
Also downtown, or close to it, Thomas Bloomer obtained a Crown grant in 1906 for a ranch he called Southwood. When George and Arlee Anderson bought the property from Bloomer around 1946, they changed its name to Castle Bar (sometimes spelled Castle-Bar) because it “was almost like Castlegar.” Bar is a cattle branding term, often incorporated into ranch names.
In 1962, brothers William, Peter, Nick, and Paul Oglow bought the ranch’s lower flat and created what became known as the Oglow subdivision. It consists of Woodland Drive, Lakeview Street, Meadowlark Lane, Chickadee Lane, Lynnwood Crescent, and Silver Birch Lane.
Zuckerberg Island is named for Estonian emigre Alexander Zuckerberg (1880-1961) who turned the island into a personal paradise. Now it’s a civic park. The name was officially adopted in 1985.
Around 1912, the CPR added a minor point to its timetable called Kinnaird, which would grow into a town. Though the name is still well known, following Kinnaird’s amalgamation with Castlegar in 1973, it’s officially South Castlegar.
The dividing line between Castlegar and Kinnaird was the railway tracks near the present Safeway, although the Highway 3 overpass might be an alternate demarcation point today.
Several notable subdivisions exist in Kinnaird. Woodland Park, east of the Castleaird Plaza, was built during construction of the Celgar pulp mill, in an area once known as Stewartsville.
An early mention appears in The Vancouver Sun of May 12, 1960: “Celgar has also purchased a 37-acre site which it will develop as a fully-serviced subdivision to be named Woodland Park.”
Woodland Park’s streets are Ridgewood, Pinewood, Greenwood, and Birchwood drives, plus Silverwood and Riverside crescents, Connors Road, and 18th Street.
The Dumont subdivision, meanwhile, consists of 1st Avenue and Dumont Crescent and was named by 1950 for the pioneer Dumont family. Marc Dumont bought property here around 1904.
Grosvenor, in upper Kinnaird, includes Grosvenor Place, Forest, Mason, and Lucas roads, plus Fernwood Drive and 14th Avenue. Its namesake is unclear, although it may have been an early resident — Edward Grosvenor died in Trail in 1912.
We’ll continue looking at Castlegar next week with a roundup of newer subdivisions.