“Columbia Street and CPR depot” from a photo booklet published by W.H. Carre around 1903. The train station at centre-right is now the Grand Forks Station Pub (pictured below)

Columbia vs. Grand Forks: a family feud

From 1899 to 1903, the west part of Grand Forks was a separate, rival city known as Columbia (That’s right: Columbia, British Columbia.)

Thirty-seventh in a somewhat alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

From 1899 to 1903, the west part of Grand Forks was a separate, rival city known as Columbia (That’s right: Columbia, British Columbia.)

Originally called Upper Grand Forks, a post office opened under that name on January 1, 1897, but when a Toronto syndicate bought the townsite, representative A.W. Ross lobbied for a name change. A postal inspector’s report claimed that mail bound for Upper Grand Forks was going to Grand Forks, North Dakota instead.

The first hint of the new name came in the Cascade Record of December 31, 1898 which suggested the town would be called Yale or Columbia. (Coincidence or not, the Yale-Columbia Lumber Co. was incorporated around the same time.)

The change officially took effect April 1, 1899 for postal purposes, but by then townsite promoters had been using the new name for months. Why Columbia? It seemed arbitrary. Postmaster Peter Wright told James White of the Canadian Geographic Survey: “The name of Columbia was selected on account of: 1) It being euphonious. 2) It being one of the names of the province. 3) The Columbia River being not far distant.”

Despite a modest population, Columbia became an incorporated city on May 4, 1899 and a feud began in earnest: a Grand Forks restaurateur was jailed for making malicious statements about Columbia; the Columbia stage coach refused to let passengers off in Grand Forks; and Grand Forks founding mayor John Manly was accused of helping burn down a Columbia hotel. (The charges were dropped when a key witness failed to show.)

Much to A.W. Ross’ dismay, the Canadian Pacific Railway depot at Columbia was called Grand Forks. He asked that it be changed — if not to Columbia, then Van Horn, Strathcona, Kettle Valley, or Kettle River — but was unsuccessful.

The rivalry finally ended in 1901 when residents of both towns voted to amalgamate, although it didn’t become official until January 1, 1903. Various names for the new city were suggested, including Amalga, Empire, and Miner.

The latter, in honour of Granby mining company president S.H. Miner, secured the most votes, but the Grand Forks board of trade later convinced the powers that be to stick with Grand Forks.

The name Columbia survived a while longer: the post office continued under that name until it closed on September 30, 1914, by which time the area was also known as Little Eholt. (We’ll deal with Eholt later in this series.)

The post office reopened as West Grand Forks on May 1, 1917, but newspaper references to Columbia persisted at least into the late 1930s.

One building from Columbia’s heyday, its train depot, still stands and is today the Grand Forks Station Pub and Columbia Grill.

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

Carmi, Cedar Point, Circle City, and Clark’s Camp

Carson, Carstens, and Cascade City

Casino and Champion Creek

Castlegar, Part 1

Castlegar, Part 2

Castlegar, Part 3

Christina Lake

Christina City and Christian Valley

Clubb Landing and Coltern

Cody and Champion Creek revisited

Just Posted

Former Nelson swimmers competing in NCAA

Jordan and Kelsey Andrusak will be rivals in in the Western Athletic Conference

CHECK THIS OUT: Don’t let reading fall by the wayside this summer

Avi Silberstein is the children’s librarian at the Nelson Public Library

Kootenay students learn about lake stewardship

Two hundred and fifty students from around Kootenay Lake participated in the Youth Water Festival

Restoration underway on Nelson cenotaph

The Nelson War Memorial was constructed in 1922

Protesters rally in Victoria over newly approved Trans Mountain pipeline

The Still No Consent! No Trans Mountain! 20 kilometre march will end at Island View Beach

Wildfire burning in coastal forest

A fire beside the Sea to Sky Highway is burning up a steep slope

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Being a pot dealer is not what it used to be

Sunday Big Read: the business of selling marijuana in B.C. is a slow bureaucratic slog

VIDEO: Two more pride flags have been stolen from Langley woman

Lisa Ebenal was “angry” and “fed up” after the latest theft. Then people started showing suppport

B.C. couple who has raised 58 children turns to community amid cancer diagnosis

Family who raised, fostered and adopted many kids hoping to gain some precious together time to fight cancer

Canucks acquire forward J.T. Miller from Lightning

J.T. Miller, 26, had 13 goals and 34 assists for the Lightning last season

Most Read