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PLACE NAMES: Rosebery and Ross Spur

Rosebery, on Slocan Lake, was originally known as Wilson Creek, the body of water that flows through it.
This ca. 1940s postcard misspelled Rosebery as Roseberry. The boat pictured was also called the Rosebery.

One-hundred sixty-fifth in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

Rosebery, on Slocan Lake, was originally known as Wilson Creek, the body of water that flows through it. The creek was first mentioned in the Nelson Miner of June 25, 1892: “The Hill brothers came down from the head of Slocan lake on Thursday 16th … It is their intention to start a sawmill at Wilson creek, four miles above Eldorado city [New Denver] …”

In a letter of March 16, 1906 to James White of the Canadian Geographic Survey, postmaster William E. Marshall suggested the creek honoured “an Englishman named John Wilson. Mr. Wilson left here about 1902 and now residents in the neighborhood of Greenwood. Was about 55.”

The 1898 voters list has five John Wilsons in West Kootenay alone: two in Nelson, two in Rossland, and one in Robson, plus another in Revelstoke. There are ten on the 1901 census in this area. Which one was the creek’s namesake?

There’s no listing for a John Wilson in Greenwood in the 1905 or 1910 civic directories, although there are a handful of other Wilsons.

In any case, the first mention of a town at that spot was in the Nakusp Ledge of Dec. 21, 1893: “Wilson creek townsite is the topic of conversation here now. It is to be put on the market for sale early next year.”

The Nelson Tribune of Jan. 27, 1894 added: “The survey of the Wilson creek townsite will be completed within a day or two and the surveyors will move on to lay out Three Forks.”

The Tribune revealed the name on April 21: “The townsite at the mouth of Wilson creek, on Slocan Lake, has been named Rosebery, in honor of the prime minister of Great Britain. Nearly all our great politicians and statesmen have been so honored in West Kootenay.”

Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929) (pictured at left) was prime minister in 1894-95. Some sources claim he was a Canadian Pacific Railway director, and according to the Valley Voice of Feb. 22, 1996: “During building of the CPR trans-continental line, Rosebery was promised a station would be named after him because of his support in building the line. (One can only wonder if he ever knew just where that station named after him actually was!)”

Alexander Eric MacKay surveyed the townsite, depositing it with the land registry on June 12, 1894. From the get-go, Rosebery was misspelled Roseberry. An early example is in the Nakusp Ledge of May 3, 1894: “A free site and other inducements are held out to the Grant-Omaha Smelting Co. to locate their proposed sampling works at Roseberry.” A townsite ad in the Slocan Pioneer of Jan. 15, 1898 spelled it both ways. And for a little while at least, ca. 1908, the postmark actually read Roseberry.

The post office also set some sort of local record for most closings and re-openings. It opened on Sept. 1, 1895, closed in late 1898, reopened a month later, closed in 1905, reopened in 1906, closed in 1909, reopened in 1910, closed in 1951, reopened in 1952, and finally closed for good in 1967, when the postmaster resigned and mail was forwarded to New Denver.

Ross Spur

This spot on the Great Northern Railway near Meadows Junction was also known as Benton Siding, although there may have been a distinction between the two.

The Benton Siding post office opened on Oct. 1, 1915, closed in 1920, and reopened in 1921. There’s a good chance it ought to have been Benson Siding — at least that’s what Clara Graham calls it in Kootenay Yesterdays: “In time a flag-stop, Benson Siding, was established on the railway near our ranch …” Elsewhere, she mentions John A. Benson, “a bachelor and avid prospector from North Dakota” who was proprietor of the Northern Hotel in Salmo. There’s no sign of anyone named Benton in the area.

The post office changed its name to Ross Spur on June 1, 1924, a few months after Sidney Niven Ross (1877-1955) became postmaster.

According to How Did Your Street Get Its Name? Place Names of the Beaver & Pend d’Oreille Valleys, “Sid Ross, who along with his partner Barney Archibald, formed a logging company about the turn of the century at what is known now as Ross Spur. Mr. Ross continued logging in the area until 1923, when he built a shingle mill, which unfortunately burnt down before a single shingle was produced. In 1901, Mr. Ross ran the general store in Salmo with John Benson.”

There’s John Benson again, further suggesting he was the Benson/Benton Siding namesake.

Edna Colligan added in Beaver Valley & Pend d’Oreille: “[Ross Spur] was named by Ross who had a camp there. The spur was where the train stopped to get lumber.”

The Ross Spur post office closed in 1951 but the name is perpetuated in Erie-Ross Spur Rd. While Benton Siding has vanished, there is still a Benton Creek, named by the Geographic Board of Canada in 1932.

Previous installments in this series





Annable, Apex, and Arrow Park

Annable, revisited


Applegrove, Appleby, and Appledale revisited

Argenta and Arrowhead


Bakers, Birds, and Bosun Landing


Bannock City, Basin City, and Bear Lake City



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



Brooklyn, Brouse, and Burnt Flat


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 City, Columbia Gardens, and Columbia Park


Cooper Creek and Corra Linn

Crawford Bay and Comaplix revisited

Crescent Valley and Craigtown


Dawson, Deadwood, and Deanshaven

Deer Park

East Arrow Park and Edgewood


English Cove and English Point



Evans Creek and Evansport

Falls City




Ferguson, revisited


Forslund, Fosthall, and Fairview

Fort Shepherd vs. Fort Sheppard, Part 1

Fort Shepherd vs. Fort Sheppard, Part 2

Fort Sheppard, revisited

Fraser’s Landing and Franklin


Fruitvale and Fraine

Galena Bay



Gilpin and Glade

Gladstone and Gerrard, revisited

Glendevon and Graham Landing

Gloster City

Goldfields and Gold Hill

Grand Forks, Part 1

Grand Forks, Part 2

Granite Siding and Granite City

Gray Creek, Part 1

Gray Creek, Part 2

Gray Creek, revisited

Green City


Halcyon Hot Springs

Hall Siding and Healy’s Landing


Hartford Junction


Howser, Part 1

Howser, Part 2

Howser, Part 3

Howser, Part 4

Hudu Valley, Huntingtdon, and Healy’s Landing revisited

Inonoaklin Valley (aka Fire Valley)

Jersey, Johnsons Landing, and Jubilee Point

Kaslo, Part 1

Kaslo, Part 2

Kaslo, Part 3

Kaslo, Part 4

Kettle River, Part 1

Kettle River, Part 2

Kinnaird, Part 1

Kinnaird, Part 2

Kitto Landing

Koch Siding and Keen


Kootenay Bay, Kraft, and Krestova

Kuskonook, Part 1

Kuskonook, Part 2

Kuskonook (and Kuskanax), Part 3

Labarthe, Lafferty, and Longbeach

Lardeau, Part 1

Lardeau, Part 2

Lardeau, Part 3

Lardeau, Part 4


Lemon Creek, Part 1

Lemon Creek, Part 2

Lemon Creek, Part 3

Makinsons Landing and Marblehead

McDonalds Landing, McGuigan, and Meadow Creek

Meadows, Melville, and Miles’ Ferry


Mineral City and Minton

Mirror Lake and Molly Gibson Landing

Montgomery and Monte Carlo, Part 1

Montgomery and Monte Carlo, Part 2

Montrose and Myncaster

Nakusp, Part 1

Nakusp, Part 2



Nelson, Part 1

Nelson, Part 2

Nelson, Part 3

Nelson, Part 4

Nelson, Wash.

Nelway and New Galway

New Denver, Part 1

New Denver, Part 2


Oasis and Oatescott



Park Siding and Pass Creek




Perry Siding


Pilot Bay


Playmor Junction

Poplar and Porcupine

Porto Rico and Pottersville

Poupore, Powder Point, and Power’s Camp

Procter, Part 1

Procter, Part 2

Queens Bay, Rambler, and Raspberry

Remac and Renata


Rhone and Rideau


Ritaville, Riverside I, Riverside II, and Rivervale

Robson and Rock Creek