Sixty-ninth in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Gerrard, a ghost town at the south end of Trout Lake, had four previous names.
The first was a Sinixt word recorded by anthropologist James Teit as kali’so and by Verne Ray as sia’uks qa-li’su. According to Dorothy Kennedy and Randy Bouchard in First Nations Ethnography and Ethnohistory in BC's Lower Kootenay/Columbia Hydropower Region, sia’uks means “place of” but they didn’t recognize qa-li’-su. Ray provided the translation “Where the water flows outward,” referring to the drainage of Trout Lake into the Lardeau River. (We’ll discuss the similarity of kali’so to Kaslo later in this series.)
A townsite at that point was first mentioned in the Nelson Tribune of April 13, 1893: “Selkirk is situate at the south end of Trout Lake and is owned by Green Bros. of Kaslo.”
Not much became of Selkirk, named for the mountain range, until 1901, when the CPR began building a railway to connect Trout Lake and Kootenay Lake. The Lardeau Eagle of June 27 reported: “Selkirk City … is no more so far as the name is concerned. It is to be known, as soon as surveyed, as Duchesney.”
The Sandon Paystreak of July 6 added: “R.F. Green’s townsite at the foot of Trout Lake, formerly called Selkirk, promises to be quite an important centre … The CPR engineers are now surveying and platting it and have named it Duchesnay.”
Charles-Edmond Juchereau Duchesney (or Duchesnay) of Revelstoke had just been promoted to assistant superintendent of the CPR’s western division. However, less than two months later, his namesake town had a new moniker. According to the Slocan Drill of August 30, 1901: “The CPR have changed the name of their townsite at the foot of Trout Lake from Selkirk to Twin Falls.”
No explanation was given and the following week, Duchesney was killed in a rockfall in a tunnel at North Bend. But a creek, pass, lake, and mountain in Yoho National Park are all named for him.
Twin Falls fell out of favor with the CPR as well. The Lardeau Eagle of October 31, 1901 explained the townsite was now called Gerrard.
This honoured George Bentley Gerrard, who arrived in Kaslo in 1897 to run the Bank of British North America. He transferred to Winnipeg in 1902 and later moved to Montreal, but not much else is known about him except that he was a director of several mining companies. Gerrard also gave his name to the Lardeau River’s huge rainbow trout.
Gerrard wasn’t surveyed as a townsite until May 1909 by A.R. Heyland. The plan showed the owner was hotelier Ernest Mobbs, for whom Mobbs Creek was named.
Gerrard’s primary industry was a large sawmill that operated into the 1920s. It also had a fish hatchery — one building of which has been moved to Meadow Creek where it’s a museum. A post office operated from 1906 to 1957.
Today Gerrard has a campground and a platform to watch spawning trout.
Previous installments in this series