PLACE NAMES: Sandon, part 1

Sandon, the West Kootenay’s greatest ghost town, was named after Sandon Creek, in turn named for prospector John Sandon.

Sandon is seen sometime following the fire of 1900 that razed the downtown district. This postcard was mailed in 1907. The town was named after prospector John Sandon.

One hundred seventy-first in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

Sandon, the West Kootenay’s greatest ghost town, was named after Sandon Creek, in turn named for prospector John Sandon.

Before we turn our attention to the town, we’ll examine Sandon the man — not that we know much about him. He was apparently born in Quebec around 1840, but doesn’t show up on any census return in Canada. (Perhaps his name was originally Jean Saindon?)

In 1893, one source called him “an old-timer in the Northwest” and claimed “there are few places in which his freighting outfits have not penetrated,” but gave no further details.

The first actual sign of him is on the 1877 voters list, where he’s listed as a free miner at Perry Creek, a placer stream in the East Kootenay. In 1879, he’s listed as a laborer at Kootenay, and in 1881 and 1885 as a miner at Joseph’s Prairie.

On Aug. 21, 1889, Sandon pre-empted 320 acres eight miles north of Ainsworth, and started a ranch with Joseph Fletcher, for whom the creek that ran through the property was named. It went into the books as Lot 484.

In October 1890, Sandon was reported drowned on Kootenay Lake. A boat, oars, and hat found floating after a storm were identified as his. However, Sandon turned up a few days later, vigorously denying his death. He said he wasn’t “fool enough to get into water that he couldn’t wade through to shore, should he be upset.”

Sandon was among the prospectors who flooded into the Slocan in the fall of 1891 upon reports of a major silver strike. He staked several claims, including the Slocan Star on October 7. When recorded eight days later, its location was given as Sandon Creek, the first appearance of that name.

Sandon and partner Bruce White also applied to buy land at the junction of Sandon and Carpenter creeks (the latter named for Eli Carpenter, one of the prospectors who started the rush). The Slocan Star proved fabulously wealthy, but not for Sandon, who sold his interests to White for $500 on Dec. 29, 1891.

But the Nelson Miner of April 23, 1892 predicted Sandon would yet find his fortune in farming: “The only rancher on the Lake who has made much of a showing is John Sandon, the veteran prospector … He has cleared several acres and taken out an irrigating ditch and says that he would have little difficulty in cultivating fully a fourth of the tract. He has planted seven acres in potatoes and put in all the garden seeds he could get hold of at Ainsworth and Nelson. If the Kaslo and Slocan mines prove good, Mr. Sandon has a gold mine, for he is within reach of all the camps in these districts — and the boys must have vegetables.”

In February 1893, Sandon left home with a man named Kenneth McLeod to go to McLeod’s ranch a few miles away — or maybe they were leaving McLeod’s ranch, or Kaslo, or Ainsworth. Accounts varied.

Despite calm waters, their boat was found a few days later, bottom up on the lake. Their bodies were never recovered. The premature report of Sandon’s death in 1890 had been chillingly prescient.

“How the accident occurred is a mystery, but it is generally believed that liquor was the death-dealing agent,” the Spokane Review reported. “One of the unfortunate men was decidedly under the influence of whisky when they left Ainsworth, and took a bottle of it with him to use on the trip. The most reasonable theory is that one of them becoming tired of rowing the boat, they concluded to change places and in doing so the frail craft was upset and they were drowned.”

The paper added the Sandon left a family somewhere in California.

Joseph Hetherington, who worked on Sandon’s farm for about a year, produced what was purportedly Sandon’s will. It was dated July 16, 1892 and bequeathed “all the real and personal estate to which I shall be entitled at the time of my demise unto Joseph Hetherington.” The will also appointed Hetherington executor.

However, the Kaslo Slocan Examiner of Sept. 30, 1893 smelled a rat, noting firstly that “no one knows that John Sandown [sic] really met his death from drowning or that he is really dead at all.”

Secondly, “The fact that Mr. Sandown’s relatives, including his mother, two brothers and three sisters were cut off entirely, gives rise to a doubt about the genuineness of his will.”

And thirdly, the will wasn’t signed by Sandon, “but simply his mark (x) affixed, although Sandown was a fair scholar and could write well.”

Sandon’s relatives in the east apparently contested the will, arguing there was no proof of his death. They suspected foul play and believed he had “considerable money” in addition to his ranch.

Despite Sandon’s body remaining undiscovered, Hetherington somehow succeeded in having a death registration recorded (pictured above), which gave Sandon’s age as 53.

It took two years, but the will evidently made it through probate. On June 21, 1895, Hetherington obtained a crown grant for Sandon’s former property.

Hetherington was aided by his lawyer, and probable cousin, Joseph Hetherington Bowes of Nelson, whose father had been mayor of Toronto in the early 1860s. Hetherington was still in West Kootenay as of the 1901 census, but his later whereabouts are unknown.

No picture of John Sandon is known to exist.

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

Rossland, Part 2

St. Leon and Rosebery, revisited

Salmo

Salmon Rapids