The Balfour Beach Inn is the community's most historic building.

Balfour named for British prime minister

Balfour, at the outlet of Kootenay Lake, was named in 1890 by surveyor Charles Westly Busk, who staked a pre-emption claim there.

Tenth in a series on West Kootenay-Boundary place names

Balfour, at the outlet of Kootenay Lake, was named in 1890 by surveyor Charles Westly Busk (1852-1933), who staked a pre-emption claim there a year prior.

The earliest reference to the townsite was in Revelstoke’s Kootenay Star on August 2 that year: “Another town has been started on Kootenay Lake at Busk’s Point and lots are for sale.” (When Busk surveyed the townsite in May 1891, he immodestly named three streets Charles, Westly, and Busk — Charles and Busk are still on the map.)

The first actual mention of Balfour was in the Nelson Miner of September 13, 1890: “No better view of Kootenay Lake and river (or outlet) can be had than at Busk’s point … This available piece of ground has been platted for a townsite and given the name of Balfour, in honor of the man who rules Ireland through a secretaryship in Lord Salisbury’s cabinet.”

Although this conclusively establishes the town was named for Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), who served as prime minister of Great Britain from 1902-05 (and therefore the pronounciation is BAL-fir, not Bal-FORE), it didn’t prevent several rival theories from emerging.

In 1895, during a visit to the area, Lady Aberdeen wrote in her diary: “Opposite Pilot Bay a gentleman of the name of Balfour has built a private residence just because of the beauty of the place. And he is fully justified.”

A copy of the 1892 West Kootenay tax roll held by the Kootenay Lake archives shows a D.B. Balfour did own property at the outlet, which he abandoned three years later.

A Cominco Magazine feature of April 1963 further muddied the waters by stating Balfour was either named for Lord Balfour, “or for John Hutton Balfour, a botanist.”

In 1969, G.P.V. and Helen Akrigg received a letter from Nelson’s librarian, Mrs. G.M. Stockell, who stated: “It is not named after the British Lord Balfour, but after a man who worked on the CPR.” In their book, British Columbia Place Names, the Akriggs added “Mr. Balfour was superintendent of bridges during construction of the CPR’s Crowsnest line.”

Perhaps the two men were related, for in Kootenay Outlet Reflections, historian Michael Cone states Lord Balfour’s family “had interests in mining claims in the area.”

The Balfour post office opened on July 1, 1891. According to the Nelson Tribune of October 12, 1893, it was threatened with closure when postmaster Busk planned to winter in Victoria, but evidently some arrangement was made to keep it going.

The BC Geographic Names system says the post office closed on February 12, 1955 and re-opened sometime in 1956. However, postal authorities later claimed it hadn’t actually closed, just been shut “for an extended period of time” during a move.

Balfour has subsumed two suburbs, Fraser’s Landing and Riverside, each of which will be dealt with separately in this series.

Anthropologist Verne Ray recorded a Sinixt name, ktca’ukul, for a spring village at or near Balfour, which he translated as “spliced trousers.”

Previous installments in this series

Introduction

Ainsworth

Alamo

Anaconda

Appledale

Applegrove, Appleby, and Appledale revisited

Argenta and Arrowhead

Aylwin

Annable, Apex, and Arrow Park

Just Posted

Nelson considers amnesty on parking fines

Drivers with backlogged fines would have until January to apply

EDITORIAL: Federal NDP challenges evident on Kootenay campaign trip

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tours the Kootenays in support of local MPs, proportional representation

Columbia Basin Trust announces grant for technology upgrades

The deadline for organizations to apply is Dec. 17

Leafs fall to Braves, Twitter fight breaks out

Nelson gave up two goals in the third en route to a 4-2 loss

Cardiac arrest survivor saved by passerby

People who know CPR can now register with a new phone app to notify them of nearby emergencies

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Kootenay music mentor crushed by stolen sax, sheet music

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers or the Trail RCMP at 250.364.2566

Most Read