One hundred and second in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
According to the Castlegar Historical Review, published in 1952, Kinnaird “is definitely named after some early settler of the locality. But conversation with several old-timers cannot reveal who he was.”
According to notes in the BC Provincial Archives place names file dated 1962, the CPR also indicated it was “after [an] early resident in vicinity” while the village clerk “Thinks [it was] named by CPR engineer after place in Scotland.”
Leading Kinnaird citizen Ross MacDermid wrote in the Castlegar News of Sept. 28, 1967: “Don’t ask me when the district came to be called Kinnaird. Doubtless the CPR knows if someone could persuade head office to chase back in the records 50 or 60 years. The original group who worked in 1947 and 1948 [to incorporate the village] didn’t find out, although they did establish that it was named after a man named Kinnaird (and his name rhymed with laird and not lard) who had been a district superintendent. There was an argument over whether he had been a superintendent or surveyor, and another over whether it was the CPR or the Columbia and Western railroad, but since these things didn’t really matter, the question was dropped.”
MacDermid, the newspaper, Selkirk College, and the then-Town of Kinnaird weren’t able to unearth any more details “other than the fact Mr. Kinnaird apparently did live near the infant townsite.”
The Canadian Permanent Committee of Geographical Names pointed to the Encyclopedia Canadiana, which agreed Kinnaird was named “After [an] early resident,” but neither source provided further details.
The News added: “A check by the divisional engineer of the CPR revealed no employee with the name Kinnaird but confirmed there was a resident of that name. Neither the Kootenay land registers nor the provincial archives reveals any trace of a resident of this name … None of the old-timers living can remember anyone named Kinnaird, but it could have been a resident of Waterloo or Montgomery, as some of the social notes [in the Trail Creek News of 1897] did refer to a ‘Kinnear.’”
The BC vital events index lists deaths and marriages of several people named Kinnaird, but none in West Kootenay. Neither the 1901 nor 1911 census lists anyone named Kinnaird in BC (although it finds a few Kinnards in Victoria).
The late Eli Popoff wrote in the Castlegar News of Sept. 23, 1971: “The oldsters were not too sure just when this station came to be called Kinnaird, but do not remember it by that name when they arrived here [in 1909]. To the best of grandpa Eli Voykin’s recollection, the name Kinnaird was derived from the name of a railroad brakeman who lived there. His name was Kenny or Kinney and since his yard was bordering the railroad siding, it came about that any railroad cars spotted there were referred to as the ‘Kinny Yard’ and the townsite that developed was eventually registered Kinnaird.”
CPR conductor Alfred Joseph Kinney (1874-1936) was listed in the civic directory as a Castlegar resident in 1904-05 — along with brakeman Frank Kinert (1860-1915).
The latter may be highly significant: Kinert is in fact a spelling variant of Kinnaird and the Kinert clan lived in the barony of Kinnaird. Other branches of Frank’s family used the spelling Kinard.
Frank was born in Anamosa, Iowa, where his father David was a retailer, politician, court clerk, and county sheriff. As of 1886, Frank was working for Union Pacific out of Omaha. In 1891, he married Anna Smith and the following year they had a daughter, Beulah. The 1900 US census finds them in South Sumpter, Oregon, but by 1904 they appear to have gone their separate ways as Anna was running the National Hotel in Everett, Wash.
In 1910, Frank turns up as a railway switchman in Lewiston, Montana. The following year, he was back in BC, living in Greenwood and working for the CPR. He died a few years later in Spokane of kidney inflammation and was interred in Glenwood Springs, Col., where his late mother lived.
But if he was responsible for Kinnaird’s name, how and why did it happen? At the time it was an obscure railway point, so perhaps his suggestion was met with a shrug and “Sure, why not?”
Notably, a still-obscure railway point east of Creston was named Kinert by 1912, possibly after a section foreman from Fernie named Fred Kinert, whose relation to Frank, if any, is unknown.
Another wrinkle: a 1916 map of Columbia River fruit lands held by the BC Archives shows “Waterloo (Kinaird)” [sic] and nearby “Annable Orchards.” The latter was named for George Malcolm (Mac) Annable (1858-1938), who also lent his name to the Warfield suburb.
Lastly, the portion of Kinnaird now known as Woodland Park was originally called Stewartsville — which we’ll look at separately later in this series.
Previous installments in this series