Twenty-third in a more-alphabetical-than-not series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Burton, on Upper Arrow Lake, is named after Reuben S. Burton (1868-1912) who pre-empted land there in August 1893, a few months before it became a jumping off point for a short-lived Cariboo Creek gold rush.
The earliest mention is in the Nakusp Ledge of July 5, 1894: “R.S. Burton and the other ranchers along the Narrows have decided to call the new town springing up at the mouth of Trout Creek Burton City, in honor of the owner of the townsite.”
The townsite was not surveyed, however, until June 22, 1897 by Allan Poyntz Patrick — the man who found the first oil in Alberta, though it didn’t make him rich.
Burton’s streets included Slocan, Alberta, Bow, Cariboo, Victoria, Kootenay, and Lardeau, and its avenues were Columbia, Vancouver, Kamloops, Golden, Calgary, Galena, and The Strand.
The Burton post office opened on May 1, 1896. Curiously, the Nelson Daily News of May 23, 1909 stated: “A post office has lately been established at what was formerly known as Burton city … and which has been renamed Burton.” None of the usual postal history sources indicate it closed around this time.
Reuben Burton, postmaster from 1896-1900, died in California of typhoid fever. He’s buried in Williamstown, Ontario. His brothers Byron (1874-fl. 1901) and Arthur (1878-1943) also located pre-emptions in the area.
When a school opened in 1909, it was called Burtondale, presumably to distinguish it from another Burton in the Dewdney riding. But in 1930, Burtondale school became just Burton.
Following the construction of the Hugh Keenleyside dam in the 1960s, the original Burton townsite was flooded out and the community relocated to higher ground at what was first called New Burton, but soon just Burton.
It’s not widely known that Burton was originally known as Perksville, after Nakusp hotelkeeper John Vincent Perks (1868-1957). The first reference was in the Nakusp Ledge of January 18, 1894: “Almost the entire population of Perksville, a thriving little hamlet at the lower end of the Narrows, came up last Thursday evening, in charge of Commander J. Dawson.”
Perksville only received a few more mentions before being renamed Burton. The key one on February 1 read: “F.G. Stapleton-Cotton and W. Long departed for Perksville last Thursday, their example being imitated by Messrs. Perks and Burton, who left for the same place on Tuesday.”
Perks may have been a cousin to the Burtons, for his brother was named Harry Burton Perks.
Ethnographer James Teit recorded a Sinixt name, xaé’kEn, for a creek below Burton, but provided no translation.
Previous installments in this series