A tale of three landings: Bakers, Birds, and Bosun
Twenty-fourth in an almost alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Where have all the landings gone? In the days when sternwheelers plied local lakes, there were dozens of such places. Only a few survive today, Johnsons Landing probably best known among them, and the term has been co-opted by real estate developers. Here are stories behind three other landings.
This spot on Kootenay Lake’s east shore was named for Reginald Herbert Baker (1857-1924) by 1911, when Baker’s family and a few others were shown on the census living there.
In Impressions of the Past, authors Terry Turner and Susan Hulland quote a March 14, 1914 diary entry by Thomas Langton: “Mr. Parkinson started for Bakers in the evening to get the mail but could not find the place so I took him down in the rowboat.” By May, Bakers Landing was on the CPR timetable.
Turner and Hulland say Bakers was the area of the Pilot Peninsula consisting of Lots 2560 and 4962 and adjoined the community of Pilot Bay to the south.
While it never officially had a post office, anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that there was one. Postal records indicate the Pilot Bay post office moved to Kootenay Bay in 1908, but in Four Score and More, William Fraser writes that it moved one mile north to the old McLellan property, which became Bakers Landing.
Fraser says Reginald Baker ran the post office from his home. Indeed, the 1915 civic directory listed Baker as postmaster. It’s not clear how long this continued, but by 1918 Baker was listed simply as a rancher, and mail for Bakers Landing was being addressed via Kootenay Bay.
A late mention came in the Creston Valley Advance of February 28, 1972: “Rosemary Gunther lives at Bakers Landing in a very old house …”
This place was on the west shore of Upper Arrow Lake, a little north of Arrow Park.
You might imagine great flocks of birds landing there, but Paul Trussel wrote in the first issue of the Trail Journal of Local History: “In 1912 … dad negotiated with the CPR to have a nearby flag-stop for up-lake trips of steamers and recommended that the location be designated Birds Landing after the original surveyor of the area.”
Although neither was a surveyor, the landing was possibly named after brothers Robert Montagu (1863-1939) and Harry Bird (1857-1940), who ran a real estate, insurance, and mining business in Nelson, and dealt in Arrow Lakes properties.
Birds Landing was a casualty of the Hugh Keenleyside dam.
This spot between Silverton and New Denver on Slocan Lake was first mentioned in The Ledge of October 13, 1898: “A good road has been built from the lakeshore to the workings and the ore is shipped from the Bosun landing.”
Bosun is also the name of a mine, ranch, and New Denver opera house, all named by Joseph Colebrook Harris (1871-1951), who came to the area in 1897. The name honoured a ship’s bosun he met in Vancouver who struck an officer.
Facing serious punishment, the bosun was “only too willing” to help Harris get his goods onto the train bound for the Slocan, according Harris’ late granddaughter, Nancy Anderson.
Alas, the bosun’s name goes unrecorded.
Previous installments in this series