Charles E. Perry surveyed the original Trout Lake City townsite in 1893. (Courtesy Regional District of Central Kootenay) Inset:James W. Troup’s portrait appeared in Lewis & Dryden’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, published in 1895.

PLACE NAMES: Trout Lake and Troup Junction

Trout Lake — or Lake de Truite — was named by the time James Turnbull passed through the area in 1865.

One hundred ninety-ninth in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

There are eight Trout Lakes in BC, but the one we’re concerned with is in the Lardeau.

Explorer James Turnbull noted in his diary entry for Sept. 22, 1865: “From the meadow a belt of thick timber is struck, which continues to Lake de Truite.” The next day he added: “I started along the north shore of Lake de Truite; this lake (which is very deep) is about ¾ mile wide and about 10 miles in length and abounds in splendid trout.”

Turnbull was travelling with Sinixt guides, who evidently filled him in on other local place names, such as Illecillewaet and Incomappleux (which he recorded as Ill-com-opalux), but he didn’t indicate how he knew the lake’s French name.

Randy Bouchard and Dorothy Kennedy in their First Nations’ Ethnography and Ethnohistory in British Columbia’s Lower Kootenay/Columbia Hydropower Region write that they are unaware of a Sinixt or Ktunaxa name for the lake. However, anthropologist Verne Ray recorded an encampment at the lake’s northwest end that Bouchard and Kennedy transcribed as snp’etl’mip: “It is an Okanagan-Colville term derived from p’utl’, meaning ‘come to an end; completed’ and refers to the upper end of Trout Lake.”

The lake is labelled “Lac des Truites” on Joseph Trutch’s 1871 map of BC but called Lardo Lake on George M. Dawson’s 1890 Reconnaissance Map of a Portion of the West Kootanie [sic] District.

The earliest known newspaper reference is in the Vancouver Daily World of Sept. 12, 1889, citing a story in the Revelstoke Kootenay Star: “Trout Lake is about 20 miles long and from one to two miles wide … Fish innumerable and in great variety animate the waters, but the most desirable are trout, which give the name to the lake, and they are of immense size.” (Trout Lake is actually about 14 miles [23 km] long and one mile [1.6 km] wide.)

A mining boom in the early 1890s led to a town being platted at the lake’s north end. It was first mentioned in the Kootenay Star on Jan. 21, 1893: “The new townsite of Trout Lake City, in the heart of the Lardeau mining country, will be put on the market early next month.”

In Circle of Silver, Milt Parent credited Revelstoke’s Andrew Abrahamson with staking and naming the townsite. Charles E. Perry surveyed the lots on Sept. 20 of the same year and deposited the plan with the land registry on Nov. 1.

The streets were named High, Gilker, Seroy, Denver, Victoria, Kellie, Vancouver, Lardeau, Park, Hume, Broad, Wells, Bond, Poyntz, and Piper. Kellie was after West Kootenay MLA James Kellie; Hume, Gilker, and Wells were Revelstoke merchants; Poyntz was presumably for surveyor Allan Poyntz Patrick, later famed for finding the first oil in Alberta. William Abrahamson had a townsite addition surveyed in 1901 that added John, William, and Lee streets.

Today the only surviving streets are Denver, Kellie, Lardeau, and John, plus a small section of Vancouver. West Side Road roughly corresponds with what was originally Park.

The Lardeau Eagle of Oct. 31, 1901 noted the townsite at the foot of Trout Lake had been repeatedly renamed (first Selkirk, then Duchesnay, then Twin Falls, then finally Gerrard) and added: “Surely the CPR, if they care anything for the interests of Trout Lake, will also change the name of that rising town. The present name creates a going-down-for-the-third time feeling.” But Trout Lake City it remained.

A post office application was referred to the authorities on July 25, 1893, but the office wasn’t authorized until January 1895. It finally opened that August as Trout Lake. The office closed in 1954, and mail was diverted to nearby Ferguson, even though it was even more sparsely populated than Trout Lake.

Circle of Silver explains: “Because postal service at Trout Lake had, in earlier times, experienced many problems and the office at Ferguson was scheduled to be closed, Edna Daney was appointed the new postmistress at Trout Lake, but the name ‘Ferguson post office’ was maintained.”

The office finally closed in 1979.

TROUP JUNCTION

This once important spot on the south side of Kootenay Lake’s West Arm was first known as Five Mile Point, because it was about that distance from Nelson. It was the original terminus of the Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway, where passengers and freight transferred to sternwheeler.

It was first mentioned in the Nelson Tribune of April 27, 1893: “The engineers under Mr. Shaw are still engaged in running preliminary lines … One of the lines ran went up very near to Five-Mile point.”

The railway was extended to Nelson in 1900 and the name changed to Troup Junction, or just Troup, in honour of Capt. James William Troup (1855-1931). Troup ran the Columbia and Kootenay Steam Navigation Company’s fleet in the 1890s, supervised construction of steamboats intended for the Yukon, and eventually became superintendent of the CPR’s BC coast service.

Troup Junction appears to have been christened shortly after its namesake left the region. It was first mentioned in the Tribune of May 17, 1901: “This will necessitate the running of a regular freight train out of Nelson, the transfer being made from the Canadian Pacific to the Nelson and Fort Sheppard at what is now known as Troup Junction.” (However, Five Mile Point continued to appear on timetables for at least another year.)

Troup remains on the books as a place name, and is still widely used, partly because it’s at the end of what’s now the Great Northern rail trail — although it’s often misspelled Troupe or Troop.

 

This ad for the Trout Lake City townsite first appeared in the Revelstoke Kootenay Mail on April 14, 1894.

A railway shed is seen at Troup in 1973. The shed is gone, but the sign has survived and is now in private hands. (Ron Welwood photo)

James W. Troup’s portrait appeared in Lewis & Dryden’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, published in 1895.