Ninety-fourth in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Johnsons Landing presents us with an opportunity to address a vexing subject: the lack of apostrophes in Canadian place names.
In British Columbia Place Names, G.P.V. and Helen Akrigg explain that in 1890 the United States set up its Board of Geographic Names, “charged with regularizing, recording, and making official the country’s geographic names. One of the arbitrary rules that the Americans set for themselves was that geographical names must not contain apostrophes. In 1897 the Geographic Board of Canada came into being and proceeded to make official for Canadian names the no-apostrophe rule.”
So while you’ll frequently see it written Johnson’s Landing — that’s the form used by the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center and in Mandy Bath’s recent book Disaster in Paradise — officially, it’s Johnsons Landing, as though there was more than one Johnson.
In fact, the Kootenay Lake community was named for just one man, Algot Johnson (1875-1963). In Where the Lardeau River Flows, Jim McNichol recalled: “Algot was a miner. He came from Sweden to Colorado and from Colorado … he came north in the gold rush about 1895 to Kaslo. He was fishing in a rowboat and got caught in a storm and stayed down at the mouth of Kootenay Joe Creek. While he was waiting for the storm he walked up and saw this beautiful flat. He started to save money to buy a piece.”
The earliest mention of Johnsons (or Johnson’s) Landing yet discovered is in The Kootenaian of April 27, 1911: “A gang of men went up Monday night to Johnson’s Landing to start work on the new government wagon road there.”
Algot Johnson is also mentioned as living there on the 1911 census, along with Robert McKinney.
However, The Kootenaian of May 4, 1911 referred to Johnson as “the pioneer Fry Creek rancher,” and the Nelson Daily News of April 30, 1912 and Jan. 9, 1913 also said he lived at Fry Creek — then regarded as a separate place. The Kootenaian of Oct. 16, 1913 reported Fry Creek would seek a post office, but it never opened.
The creek was named for pioneer prospector/trapper Richard (Dick) Fry (1838-98) and is first mentioned in a mining notice in the Ainsworth Hot Springs News of Oct. 31, 1891.
Johnsons Landing is one of few survivors of what used to be a long list of Kootenay Lake landing names. A couple of others in the same area were included on the 1911 census, but have since vanished: McIntyre’s Landing, which became Birchdale in 1926; and Gardner’s Landing, named for Walter James Gardner (1873-1938), who bought 200 acres sometime before 1909. It was an official steamer stop on the CPR timetable by 1913.
Algot Johnson died in Kaslo at 87. He never married.
His death registration reveals he was born in Karlstorp, a tiny town in southern Sweden, to John Frederick Gustafson and Johanna Christina Danielson (Swedish naming conventions saw sons incorporate their father’s first names in their surnames).
The Johnsons Landing post office opened in 1917 and closed in 1970. Another Johnsons Landing post office existed in the Fraser Valley from 1884-91 before changing its name to Dewdney.
The Jersey townsite, about 11 km southeast of Salmo, was born in 1947 when Canadian Exploration Ltd. examined lead-zinc showings on the claim of the same name.
The claim was staked before 1916 although the name’s origin is unknown. It could be after the island in the English Channel or any number of places in the United States.
The Jersey was one of several ore bodies — the Emerald was the key one — that kept Canex humming for more than 25 years, as recounted in Larry Jacobson’s Jewel of the Kootenays.
The Jersey townsite had over 120 homes, a school (Harold Lakes Elementary, named for the mine manager) and an Olympic-size swimming pool. The buildings and equipment were auctioned off in 1973 when the mine closed.
While the name is no longer in use, there is a Jersey Creek, and until 2007, the Telus phone book included the notation “Jersey – See Salmo.”
It was the BC head office of the Gold Hills Exploration and Development Co. of Toronto, which owned 12 groups of claims in the Upper Duncan River country. The company’s president was James D. Edgar, speaker of the House of Commons from 1896-99. Other directors included Prince Edward Island premier Donald Farquharson and the Mohawk physician Oronhyatekha.
The Nelson Tribune of Oct. 10, 1900 said: “At the head office on Jubilee Point the company has comfortable buildings, including a complete assay outfit which is kept busy on specimens from the company’s many properties.”
Jubilee was the one of the company’s claims. Nothing was heard from them after 1901.
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