One hundred twenty-seventh in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Montrose was named for a place in Scotland, but its origin isn’t completely straightforward.
According to Tracks of the Beaver Valley and Pend’Oreille, Leon Selk Simmons (1903-84) moved to Fruitvale in 1942 where he operated a garage, which burned down four years later. He also worked for Cominco, and while commuting to Trail, “the idea of developing a subdivision on the 220 acres of stumps and second growth known as Wood’s Flats began to form.” (It’s unclear who Wood’s Flats was named after.)
Apparently Beaver Heights was first suggested as the name for the subdivision, “but the government would not approve this name because too many place names were using the word ‘Beaver.’”
Simmons hired a Trail lawyer, Arthur Garfield Cameron (1882-1965), to deal with the insurance adjustment on the garage fire, whose wife Adelaide suggested the name Montrose, after her husband’s Scottish roots. (There’s some indication her original pick was Rosemont, but that name already belonged to a Nelson neighborhood.) Cameron and Simmons then formed Montrose Homesites Ltd.
The earliest known use of the name is in the September 1949 issue of Cominco Magazine: “Along the new highway to Fruitvale and near the cut-off, many new homes are springing up. This new district is called Montrose.”
Rita Sims explains in Tracks of the Beaver Valley and Pend’Oreille that the name made sense for another reason: “It was covered with brush, some trees, burnt out stumps, and wild roses grew everywhere. At the time I thought that was why the developers were going to name it Montrose.”
Montrose, Angus, Scotland is a coastal resort town 61 km north of Dundee and today has a population of about 12,000. Its BC namesake became a popular bedroom community of Trail and has a population of a little over 1,000.
The Kootenay Free Press of Feb. 12, 1953 wrote: “The booming Montrose community, where a rural delivery postal route failed last year, is now launching a quest for a local post office. The 200 home community is served by Beaver Falls post office about one mile away. Official community request has again gone to the postal inspector’s department under the seal of the progressive Montrose Improvement Association.”
The Beaver Falls post office moved to Montrose on Oct. 30, 1953. The village incorporated in 1956.
This stop on the Vancouver, Victoria, and Eastern Railway near the US border southeast of Bridesville was named for Thomas (1862-1892) and William McMynn (1864-1929), who came to BC around 1887 and ran the Harpur ranch. Thomas drowned in Osoyoos Lake at a young age while William went on to become superintendent of the BC Provincial Police.
The earliest known mention of the name is in the Hedley Gazette of Aug. 30, 1906: “Myncaster is on the west side of Myers Creek valley, and its distance from Midway cannot be much more than 17 miles.”
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