The Boundary’s most spectacular body of water is named for Christina MacDonald McKenzie Williams

The Boundary’s most spectacular body of water is named for Christina MacDonald McKenzie Williams

Christina Lake named for woman’s bravery

Few local place names honour women, much less ones with First Nations ancestry. The major exception is Christina Lake.

Thirty-second in an almost alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

Few local place names honour women, much less ones with First Nations ancestry. The major exception is Christina Lake, named after Christina McDonald McKenzie Williams (1847-1925).

She was born in present-day Idaho, the second-eldest child of Angus McDonald, chief Hudson’s Bay Company trader at Fort Colville, Wash., and Catherine Baptiste, a cousin to a Nez Perce chief.

Christina was close to her father, whom she travelled with and acted as interpreter and bookkeeper for. Their annual trip to Fort Kamloops followed a trail along the Kettle River, which had to be crossed at one point.

According to a 1945 manuscript on Boundary place names by Rupert Haggen, during one trip Christina’s raft fell apart and she was thrown into the water along with the buckskin sack containing her father’s books and papers. She was swept downstream, but upon being rescued was still holding the satchel.

Some sources state the Hudson’s Bay Company was so impressed with her courage that they named the lake in her honour. However, Haggen said the name was not bestowed directly by the company, but rather “In appreciation of her efforts … the Council of Indian Chiefs bequeathed ‘to her, her heirs, executors and assigns forever’ the sole right to hunt, fish or trap over that area tributary to Christina Lake and Creek. Henceforth, the stream and consequently the lake, bore the name Christina.” (Unfortunately, Haggen’s source is unclear.)

In an autobiography published in the Washington Historical Quarterly of April 1922, Christina McDonald acknowledged she was the lake’s namesake but didn’t explain the circumstances. She recalled that in 1878, she and her first husband, Hudson’s Bay clerk James McKenzie, left for Victoria along with Joe LaFlure, another company man: “When we came to Christina Creek, LaFlure said in French, ‘Here is your Creek, Christina.’ Christina Lake and Creek are named after me.”

There’s also an alternate and undoubtedly wrong origin in the Canadian Geographical Names Database which states the lake was named “after an Indian girl, born on its shore, and baptized Christina by a priest; later drowned in same lake.”

Christina Lake first appeared on an 1871 map by J.W. Trutch, but the earliest newspaper reference isn’t until the Victoria Daily Colonist of January 13, 1893.

Previously geographer John Palliser wrote in his journal entry of September 26, 1859: “Proceeding along the crest of this hill for several miles, we at length came in sight of a lake, called by the Indians Lake Nichelaam, to which they repair to fish late in the autumn from the south.” The translation of Nichelaam isn’t known.

The Christina Lake post office opened on August 16, 1912, became a summer post office in 1923, closed September 30, 1930, re-opened as a summer post office from July 1, 1939 to 1944, and then became a year-round office again. It amalgamated with the Cascade post office on June 30, 1973.

A much more detailed biography of Christina McDonald by Jack and Claire Nisbet, along with a photo of her, can be found at historylink.org.

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

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

Carson, Carstens, and Cascade City

Casino and Champion Creek

Castlegar, Part 1

Castlegar, Part 2

Castlegar, Part 3

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

Ice slides are one thing that could occur in Rossland this winter. File photo
City of Rossland plans to hold scaled-back winter events

Small portions of Rossland Winter Carnival, Rekindle the Spirit events to occur for public

Trail city council made a difficult decision and cancelled the 2021 Silver City Days celebration. 
Photo: Trail Times
Silver City Days – cancelled

With pandemic uncertainty still looming, Trail council scuttled plans for 2021 Silver City Days

REN Energy will source waste wood from ATCO Wood Products and other forest companies, as well as brush piles, to create Renewable Natural Gas in a new facility planned for Park Siding just outside of Fruitvale. Townsman file photo.
Kelowna, Calgary energy companies design renewable gas plant near Trail

The new project is in Fruitvale, B.C. and builds on Canada’s green energy economy

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

Most Read