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Sayward on Vancouver Island and the former West Kootenay townsite of Sayward were both named after lumber magnate William Parsons Sayward.
This ad for the Sayward townsite appeared in the Nelson Miner on Aug. 12

One-hundred seventy-third in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

Sayward on Vancouver Island and the former West Kootenay townsite of Sayward, now Columbia Gardens, south of Trail, were both named after lumber magnate William Parsons Sayward (1818-1905).

Born in Maine, Sayward worked as a house carpenter and contractor before being lured west by the California Gold Rush. Rather than seek his fortune in gold, however, he continued to ply his trade as a builder and later as a baker.

When the Fraser Gold Rush began in the late 1850s, he moved to Victoria and opened the city’s first lumber yard. Later he established several sawmills, including one at Pilot Bay on Kootenay Lake, in partnership with Joshua Philip Davies.

Sayward and Davies were two of the five principals of the West Kootenay Land Co., which tried to make a buck on townsites along D.C. Corbin’s Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway, during and after its construction.

It’s unclear when Sayward bought property on the Columbia River near the mouth of Beaver Creek, but the first mention of the townsite that bore his name was in the Spokane Review of April 12, 1893: “The West Kootena[y] Land Co. … [has] acquired the lands of the Davies-Sayward company … extending about a quarter of a mile above Beaver creek … It is the purpose to lay out here at once the town of Sayward, which would likely be the principal supply point for the construction of the Nelson & Fort Sheppard railroad … There are surveying parties now at … Sayward.”

Ten days later the Nelson Miner elaborated: “The Town of Sayward, located opposite Fort Sheppard [sic] on the Columbia River, about two miles north of the Pend d’Oreille river is the latest candidate for favor with real estate speculation. It … presents a most inviting appearance. The owners contemplate putting in an esplanade along the riverfront 100 to 150 feet wide and the townsite is to be surveyed so as to make the avenues 100 and 150 feet wide, streets 80 feet wide, alleys 20 feet, and the building lots 30 x 110. A.E. Hodgins, of this city, will leave on Monday to carry out the survey. This point will be the supply station of the southern end of the Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway during construction.”

Other stories suggested J.F. Ritchie did the survey. The townsite plan appears lost, but we know Sayward had a Victoria St., a restaurant, and two hotels. The latter weren’t very successful because of federal restrictions that prevented them from serving alcohol so long as railway construction was within two miles of them.

A post office at Sayward was authorized in August 1893, but never opened. In October, postal inspector E.H. Fletcher noted the “place is almost deserted and will be entirely so within a month or less.”

At the end of the year, the Northport News enumerated an exodus of Sayward residents and invoked Shakespeare in its requiem: “Alas poor Sayward! After life’s fitful fever you sleep well, and, ‘like a bright exhalation in the evening,’ have disappeared and no man shall see thee more.”

Sayward came back to life in 1896-97, in part due to the suggestion a smelter might be built there. (It went to Northport instead.) A second application for a Sayward post office was submitted in 1897, but Fletcher drily reported: “The population will hardly warrant the establishment of a post office at present.”

In the ensuing years, E. Crow Baker, another principal in the West Kootenay Land Co. acquired the property, and in turn sold a large portion to Hunter brothers of Rossland. They, in partnership, with C.S. Slawson of Northport, created a model orchard called Columbia Gardens — apparently named to demonstrate that smoke from the Trail smelter wouldn’t damage fruit trees. We’ve covered it previously in this series.

Sayward was only a small piece within Columbia Gardens, but efforts to cancel the townsite plan in favour of the new development were delayed because the only other property owner remained elusive.

The Phoenix Pioneer of April 7, 1906 reported: “A hunt has been going on for three years for the purchaser of the one lot, and he was located last month in California, and was willing to sell his lot back to the company at a price six times that which he paid for it in the first instance.” The deal was made, “the only man making any money out of the transaction being the one-time sucker from the states.”

Surveyor J.D. Anderson deposited his Columbia Gardens plan with the land registry on Sept. 14, 1907.

The Columbia Gardens post office operated from 1908-50, but the name Sayward persisted a little longer. A letter postmarked July 7, 1910 was addressed to “Mrs. Pipkin, Columbia Gardens, Old Sayward, BC (near Waneta).”

And according to the Nelson Daily News of Jan. 20, 1913, it took the influence of the local Farmers Institute and a petition by residents to convince the Great Northern to finally change the name of the railway station from Sayward to Columbia Gardens: “The change was put into effect on Tuesday, Jan. 11, and express as well as mail will henceforth be addressed to Columbia Gardens.”

Since the 1920s, the old Sayward townsite has been the site of the Bouma dairy.

In addition to the town and district on Vancouver Island named after him, W.P. Sayward is remembered in Sayward Ave. in Salmo — another of the West Kootenay Land Co.’s ventures.

Below: This ad on a rock bluff along the railway track a little north of the Bouma dairy has been retouched over the years, but the original was painted in the 1890s. It says “Hotel Sayward, Meals 35, Beds 25 & 30.” (Greg Nesteroff photo)

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

Rosebery and Ross Spur

Rossland, Part 1

Rossland, Part 2

St. Leon and Rosebery, revisited


Salmon Rapids

Sandon, Part 1

Sandon, Part 2