Fort Shepherd named for Hudson’s Bay governor

There’s Fort Shepherd and there’s Fort Sheppard: nearby but separate places with different spellings.

The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Shepherd is seen circa 1858



Fifty-ninth in a series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

There’s Fort Shepherd and there’s Fort Sheppard: nearby but separate places with different spellings.

The latter was an obscure townsite on the east side of the Columbia River, at its confluence with the Pend d’Oreille, while the former was a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post on the west side of the Columbia, just north of the Canada-US border and six kilometers southwest of present-day Trail.

Angus MacDonald established the post between 1856 and 1859 as a replacement on British soil for the company’s Fort Colvile, in what’s now Washington state.

It was originally known as Fort Pend d’Oreille before being renamed for Hudson’s Bay Company governor John Shepherd (1792-1859). Several sources suggest the name change followed his death, but it appears to have been earlier, for in a letter dated July 20, 1857, British colonial governor James Douglas wrote: “Chief trader Blenkinsop will be stationed at the new establishment, which we have named after the governor, Fort Shepherd.”

The first newspaper reference to the fort isn’t until the Victoria British Colonist of October 10, 1859. In any case, it was the first permanent European settlement in what is now West Kootenay.

Here the company built a store, warehouses, employee barracks, and a headquarters for its factor, all out of logs. It was a stopping place on the Dewdney Trail, close to a Sinixt village, and witnessed the short-lived Pend d’Oreille gold rush. A Colonial post office opened on July 13, 1865.

But Fort Shepherd never lived up to the company’s expectations for lack of arable land. It closed in 1870 and burned two years later, although one of its chimneys stood for at least another 40 years.

After several false starts, the Trail Kinsmen Club finally erected a cairn with a bronze plaque to mark its site in 1951. The plaque went missing a few years ago. The land itself is now part a conservancy area with signs pointing to it from the east side of the Columbia.

Fort Shepherd continued to be used as a byword for the region into the late 1880s. Its first misspelling as Fort Sheppard was in a legal ad in the Nelson Miner of December 27, 1890 heralding the impending construction of Daniel Chase Corbin’s Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway. Once the mistake was made, there was no correcting it — nor, it seems, any admission it was a mistake at all.

But it was true that the line would run between Nelson and the now-forgotten townsite of Fort Sheppard, where our story continues next week.

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

Bealby Point (aka Florence Park) revisited

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

Champion Creek revisited, again

Columbia

Columbia City, Columbia Gardens, and Columbia Park

Comaplix

Cooper Creek and Corra Linn

Crawford Bay and Comaplix revisited

Crescent Valley and Craigtown

Davenport

Dawson, Deadwood, and Deanshaven

Deer Park

East Arrow Park and Edgewood

Eholt

English Cove and English Point

Enterprise

Erie

Evans Creek and Evansport

Falls City

Farron

Fauquier

Ferguson

Fife

Just Posted

Finding support at Community Connect

The 10th annual event offered free services, clothing and food on Saturday

RDCK calls for reversal of Sinixt extinction

The board opposed a land transfer to the Westbank First Nation this week

Nelson city council to update banner policy

Council will revisit the wording of the policy at its December meeting

Forecasters promote avalanche safety awareness

Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts to get proper training and equipment.

Meteorite fragments found near Crawford Bay

The pieces came from the fireball that exploded over Kootenay Lake in September

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Man pleads guilty to Leafs recycling depot theft

Dezmond Waggoner had been charged with theft over $5,000

Nelson Leafs stretch winning streak to six

Jack Karran scored twice in the Leafs 6-3 win over Fernie

Nelson city hall selling bear-proof garbage bins

The city has purchased 100 bins and is charging residents $205

COLUMN: Will West Kootenay forests survive?

As with most things around ecology, the answer is not simple, says columnist Greg Utzig

Julien Locke races to NST World Cup berth

Black Jack cross-country skier Julien Locke races to first place at World Cup qualifier

B.C. reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

Most Read