PLACE NAMES: Rossland, Part 2

Last week we saw that Rossland was originally known as Thompson, after Ross Thompson, who pre-empted a homestead on the future city’s site.

The original Rossland townsite plan

One hundred sixty-seventh in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

Last week we saw that Rossland was originally known as Thompson, after Ross Thompson (1866-1951), who pre-empted a homestead on the future city’s site in 1892.

The name was changed to Rossland, also after Ross Thompson, by Sept. 6, 1894 when it appeared on a post office application. We’ll never know the exact reason for the switch, but a leading theory exists.

According to Harold Kingsmill’s First History of Rossland, published in 1897, “It was decided to call the town Thompson, in honor of its locator, but this name not being sonorous enough, at least so considered by the postal authorities, who also raised the point that the name would conflict with villages of the same nomenclature in other parts of the province, a change was made to Rossland.”

However, no correspondence survives to indicate postal authorities objected to the name Thompson, or that an application was ever filed in any other name besides Rossland.

There was, in fact, a place on Upper Arrow Lake then known as Thomson’s Landing (it was renamed Beaton a few years later). It didn’t have a post office in 1894, but an application was in the works.

(There was a post office in Thompson, Ont. — and curiously, one in Rossland, Ont., which closed in late 1893, after less than a year. This Rossland, which is no longer on the map, was nine miles east of Rat Portage, now known as Kenora.)

There was some suggestion the name Rossland was also unacceptable to the post office, for according to the Nakusp Ledge of Nov. 1, 1894: “The townsite near the mines is called Rossland. Not long ago it was called Thompson, and when the post office is established it will likely be changed again.” In fact, on that same day, Joseph F. Ritchie deposited the Rossland townsite plan with the land registry. The Rossland post office opened March 1, 1895.

But let’s accept for a moment that some sort of postal confusion was behind abandoning the name Thompson for Rossland. The Rossland Miner of Feb. 9, 1910 quoted Milton Graves in explaining how the new name was chosen: “The news was discussed by a party gathered at the old Clifton Hotel. Mrs. Stewart was running the hotel at the time and she suggested that a name with Ross in it would be just right. After thinking for a moment, she said that Rossland would be just right for a name. The clever idea was at once adopted by Mr. Thompson, and an application was made to the proper authorities and thus it is that this city received its pretty name from the ingenuity of a woman.”

The paper added that as of 1910 Mrs. Stewart was married to Thomas Garrison and living in Spokane. (As an aside, Mr. Stewart died in 1894. The Rossland Prospector of Oct. 25, 1895 noted that T.B. Garrison sold the LaBelle claim and a quarter-interest in the Rainy Day to Mrs. J.M. Stewart for $1. Love evidently blossomed.)

An alternate and less likely story in the Nelson Daily News of June 20, 1928 claimed Ross Thompson’s “log cabin was his castle, and the locals referred to ‘Ross’ Land’ somewhat ironically. After word of the richness of the new camp became known, the incoming prospectors, miners and capitalists continued to use the name Rossland.”

Thompson himself seems to have made and lost several fortunes. Having witnessed his namesake town flourish into a bona fide city, he sold his remaining holdings in 1904 or 1905 and moved to pursue other mining ventures. He returned to BC sometime in the 1920s or ‘30s, but didn’t lay eyes on Rossland again until 1946, a year before the city marked its golden anniversary. He was welcomed as a conquering hero.

“I don’t know know how to thank the people of Rossland,” he said at the conclusion of his trip. “I’ve enjoyed this. I can go to my grave a contented man.”

Previous installments in this series

Introduction

Ainsworth

Alamo

Anaconda

Annable, Apex, and Arrow Park

Annable, revisited

Appledale

Applegrove, Appleby, and Appledale revisited

Argenta and Arrowhead

Aylwin

Bakers, Birds, and Bosun Landing

Balfour

Bannock City, Basin City, and Bear Lake City

Beasley

Beaton

Bealby Point

Bealby Point (aka Florence Park) revisited

Belford and Blewett

Beaverdell and Billings

Birchbank and Birchdale

Blueberry and Bonnington

Boswell, Bosworth, Boulder Mill, and Broadwater

Brandon

Brilliant

Brooklyn, Brouse, and Burnt Flat

Burton

Camborne, Cariboo City, and Carrolls Landing

Carmi, Cedar Point, Circle City, and Clark’s Camp

Carson, Carstens, and Cascade City

Casino and Champion Creek

Castlegar, Part 1

Castlegar, Part 2

Castlegar, Part 3

Christina Lake

Christina City and Christian Valley

Clubb Landing and Coltern

Cody and Champion Creek revisited

Champion Creek revisited, again

Columbia

Columbia City, Columbia Gardens, and Columbia Park

Comaplix

Cooper Creek and Corra Linn

Crawford Bay and Comaplix revisited

Crescent Valley and Craigtown

Davenport

Dawson, Deadwood, and Deanshaven

Deer Park

East Arrow Park and Edgewood

Eholt

English Cove and English Point

Enterprise

Erie

Evans Creek and Evansport

Falls City

Farron

Fauquier

Ferguson

Ferguson, revisited

Fife

Forslund, Fosthall, and Fairview

Fort Shepherd vs. Fort Sheppard, Part 1

Fort Shepherd vs. Fort Sheppard, Part 2

Fort Sheppard, revisited

Fraser’s Landing and Franklin

Fredericton

Fruitvale and Fraine

Galena Bay

Genelle

Gerrard

Gilpin and Glade

Gladstone and Gerrard, revisited

Glendevon and Graham Landing

Gloster City

Goldfields and Gold Hill

Grand Forks, Part 1

Grand Forks, Part 2

Granite Siding and Granite City

Gray Creek, Part 1

Gray Creek, Part 2

Gray Creek, revisited

Green City

Greenwood

Halcyon Hot Springs

Hall Siding and Healy’s Landing

Harrop

Hartford Junction

Hills

Howser, Part 1

Howser, Part 2

Howser, Part 3

Howser, Part 4

Hudu Valley, Huntingtdon, and Healy’s Landing revisited

Inonoaklin Valley (aka Fire Valley)

Jersey, Johnsons Landing, and Jubilee Point

Kaslo, Part 1

Kaslo, Part 2

Kaslo, Part 3

Kaslo, Part 4

Kettle River, Part 1

Kettle River, Part 2

Kinnaird, Part 1

Kinnaird, Part 2

Kitto Landing

Koch Siding and Keen

Kokanee

Kootenay Bay, Kraft, and Krestova

Kuskonook, Part 1

Kuskonook, Part 2

Kuskonook (and Kuskanax), Part 3

Labarthe, Lafferty, and Longbeach

Lardeau, Part 1

Lardeau, Part 2

Lardeau, Part 3

Lardeau, Part 4

Lebahdo

Lemon Creek, Part 1

Lemon Creek, Part 2

Lemon Creek, Part 3

Makinsons Landing and Marblehead

McDonalds Landing, McGuigan, and Meadow Creek

Meadows, Melville, and Miles’ Ferry

Midway

Mineral City and Minton

Mirror Lake and Molly Gibson Landing

Montgomery and Monte Carlo, Part 1

Montgomery and Monte Carlo, Part 2

Montrose and Myncaster

Nakusp, Part 1

Nakusp, Part 2

Nashville

Needles

Nelson, Part 1

Nelson, Part 2

Nelson, Part 3

Nelson, Part 4

Nelson, Wash.

Nelway and New Galway

New Denver, Part 1

New Denver, Part 2

Niagara

Oasis and Oatescott

Ootischenia

Oro

Park Siding and Pass Creek

Passmore

Paterson

Paulson

Perry Siding

Phoenix

Pilot Bay

Pingston

Playmor Junction

Poplar and Porcupine

Porto Rico and Pottersville

Poupore, Powder Point, and Power’s Camp

Procter, Part 1

Procter, Part 2

Queens Bay, Rambler, and Raspberry

Remac and Renata

Retallack

Rhone and Rideau

Riondel

Ritaville, Riverside I, Riverside II, and Rivervale

Robson and Rock Creek

Rosebery and Ross Spur

Rossland, Part 1

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