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The history behind Kamloops area place names

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August 29, 2020 - 12:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Have you ever wondered how places like Barnhartvale or Cherry Creek got their names?

Thompson Rivers University has now digitized some publications from the Kamloops Museum. Included in the publications is a booklet called "Why that name?"

Several pages detail the back stories of place names in Kamloops and the surrounding area.

From Adams Lake to Westwold, the history of place names all across the Thompson and further are explored.

Here are some places with interesting back stories.

Armstrong was named after Heaton Armstrong, an English financier for the Shuswap-Okanagan Railway construction in 1891, although many settlers wanted it to be called Aberdeen. Governor General Lord Aberdeen bought the Vernon brothers' ranch near modern Vernon that year.

Barnhartvale was named after Peter Barnhart, who was a conductor on the first CPR train in 1886, but retired in the 1890s to run a Kamloops hotel. In 1905 he settled a short distance up Campbell Creek and "opened a P.O. to which he attached his own name - to the disgust of early settlers!"

Botanie Creek and Lake was a "botanist's paradise" according to the history document, but that's not the reason for its name. The document states it's an Indigenous word for perpetual root place or clouds.

There's quite a tale behind Cache Creek's name. The document says there are many "wild and woolly stories" about Cariboo stage robbers hiding their loot there, and of Donald McLean caching gold in the hills before leaving for the "Chilcotin war." But really, the name was on an 1835 map before gold was discovered, which means it probably marked the collection point for furs bound for Thompson's River Post when French was the traders' language.

Cherry Creek comes from the abundance of choke-cherries noted by fur traders, who named the stream Riviere en Cereise.

Deadman's Creek is another place that got its name in a pretty obvious way. The document states Pierre Charette was killed by his travelling companion in 1817 in a "quarrel" over the campsite. 

Enderby, previously Spallumcheen and then Belvidere, has a story behind it. The document says that an 1887 tea party included ballads, and "the ladies so loved "The Brides of Enderby" that they wanted the name for their new P.O."

Pinantan Lake is said to be named after the Indian word for moccasin, which describes the shape of the lake, although there's no confirmation of that origin. But in 1913, Antonio Pene, who was a "CPR man," started the first fishing camp there. His ads made a pun out of his own name calling it "Penentan Lodge."

Although wild roses bloom on Rose Hill, that's not where its name comes from either. Rose Anderson and her husband were the first settlers there in 1903, and before they died they raised 17 children.

Sorrento was named after its resemblance to the Italian Sorrento, with Copper Island the equivalent of Capri.

Tunkwa Lake is simply just Shuswap for goose.

Vavenby accidentally got its name after its original Navenby was misinterpreted due to handwriting.

There are so many more areas with different histories behind their names. Thanks to the new database, you can learn all about the region's history.

Go here to learn more.

— This story was originally published Jan. 10, 2018

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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