PLACE NAMES: Ritaville, Riverside, and Rivervale
One hundred sixty-third in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Ritaville, which was somewhere around present-day Blueberry, was only ever mentioned once but it’s notable as one of the few local places named after a woman.
According to the Rossland Miner of April 25, 1897: “The smelter company has opened a new camp on the Columbia, just across the river from Waterloo. Fifty men and eight teams are at work getting out lumber for the sawmill at Trail. The camp has been christened Ritaville, after the little daughter of H.C. Bellinger, superintendent of the smelter. The company now has about 100 men at work in their logging camps north of here.”
German-born metallurgical engineer Hermann Carl Bellinger (1867-1941) was a mining company executive in Butte, Spokane, Salt Lake City, and Australia in addition to his time in Trail.
His daughter Margherita (Rita) Bellinger (1893-1963) was born in Butte and went to Chile in 1917 with her parents. Three year later she married Frank N. May, assistant vice-president of the Anaconda Co. subsidiaries in South America. They lived in New York and then returned to Chile until Frank’s retirement in 1952, whereupon they moved to Spokane and then Santa Barbara. She was survived by a brother, son, daughter, and seven grandchildren.
Her namesake camp was never heard of again. (Sadly for Jimmy Buffett fans, it wasn’t called Margheritaville.)
Two local places bore this generic name, and both have since been subsumed by neighbouring communities. It was an addition to Balfour, first mentioned in an ad taken out by Thomas Procter in the Nelson Daily News of June 6, 1906.
The same paper of June 11, 1910 added: “T.G. Proctor [sic] had the Balfour addition, Riverside, surveyed into acres lots … Balfour, or Riverside, as it is to be called, is at the outlet of Kootenay Lake …”
When the CPR announced it would build a tourist hotel at Balfour, they evidently preferred that the place be known as Riverside, which brought a furious response from an M.L. Cummings. His letter in the Daily News of Sept. 9, 1910 read in part:
“I am driven to make a public protest against such a change. I may immodestly claim a 14-year acquaintance with ‘Balfour, BC’ and the name is a very good one, and to us from the old country it is an honored name. Riverside is absolutely colorless and meaningless. There are a dozen Riverside places in Canada and by what right does the CPR arbitrarily decide that Balfour is to be blotted off the map?”
Twelve days later the paper commented: “It was pointed out yesterday that the CPR is correct from a pedantic point of view in so describing the place where the hotel is to be built, as it lies within a legal subdivision named Riverside which adjoins the townsite of Balfour. The chief arguments against the name Riverside are that … the hotel will be located near the shores of Kootenay Lake. Kootenay River … does not commence until a few miles below Nelson.”
The Daily News suggested the name Co-Tinneh (an alternate spelling of Kootenay) be used rather than the “somewhat hackneyed” Riverside. In any case, Riverside didn’t stick; Balfour it remained.
The other Riverside was one mile south of Rock Creek.
Gladys Bell Burton wrote in the Boundary Historical Society’s third report (1960) that it consisted of several businesses, chief among them the Riverside Hotel, built by her step-father Sam Larsen and operated in partnership with Malcom McCuaig.
The hotel is first mentioned in the Boundary Creek Times of Sept. 4, 1897, but described as being at Rock Creek. Subsequent ads also gave its location as Rock Creek. It’s difficult to pin down exactly when Riverside became a separate place. It doesn’t appear to have ever merited its own entry in civic directories, although the Riverside community hall was built in 1907.
Burton suggested that by 1960 few people were aware it ever existed, as nearly all the buildings were gone. But the name survives in the Rock Creek Riverside Campground.
This community just north of Trail — not to be confused with Archie Andrews’ hometown of Riverdale — was originally known as Columbia Park, which we’ve previously covered. But there’s a long gap between the last known mention of Columbia Park in 1922 and first reference to Rivervale, on a subdivision map platted for Mildred King and Peter Durkin on Feb. 2, 1954. What was it called in between?
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