One hundred and third in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Among the many lost landings on Kootenay Lake is Kitto (or Kitto’s, or Kittos), where Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is today.
The landing is believed to be named for Henry Richard Kitto (1867-1954), who was born in Everton, Merseyside, an inner-city area just north of Liverpool.
He married Elizabeth Bell, born in 1869 in Derby, Derbyshire, and they came to Canada in early 1892 with two infant daughters. The family is nowhere on the 1901 census, but interestingly, a William J. Kitto, 24, was then a cook at the Athabasca mine near Nelson. His relationship to Henry is unclear; they weren’t siblings.
In Kootenay Lake Chronicles, Nick Dosenberger recounted arriving in the spring of 1908: “Next morning we caught the steamer Kaslo for Kitto’s Landing (Kokanee), on the north shore of the West Arm of Kootenay Lake … Most of the original hardy pre-emptors who settled in the Kokanee area around 1905 had either abandoned their pre-emptions by 1908, or sold out. Charles Westly Busk, however had a crew of boys developing his property while W.A. Middleton and W. Kitto were also on the scene.”
Meanwhile, Henry’s family settled in Calgary, where he had a bicycle repair shop. An ad in the Weekly Herald in 1897 promised “tires, inner tubes, toe clips, balls, wrenches, spokes, pedals, handle grips, nuts, bolts, caps, valves, etc.” By 1901, Kitto also dealt in guns and sporting goods.
Nine more Kitto children were born in Calgary, the last of whom was stillborn in January 1910. The family then left for Kootenay Lake, judging from this item in the Creston Review of Feb. 18, 1910: “H. Bothwell, who went to Calgary some time ago, is expected to go through Creston on his way to [Kokanee], a town near Nelson, with a car of farm furnishings for H. Kitto as Mr. Kitto sold his home and candy store and gun shop and is taking his wife on a farm for the benefit of her health.”
The earliest known reference to Kitto Landing appeared in the Nelson Daily News on April 4, 1912 concerning a government wharf there. Coincidentally, another son was born to the Kittos in Nelson five days later.
During this era, Kitto Landing was noteworthy as the spot where ore was hauled from the Molly Gibson mine. The 1918 BC Minister of Mines report noted: “This mine has been operated by the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. Motor haulage from the mill to Kitto Landing was used for the first time this year and is reported to be considerably more economical than the use of teams.”
By then, however, the family had moved to Nelson, where they lived at 407 Latimer St. and Henry was proprietor of the Nelson Gun, Lock, and Cycle Works at 412 Ward St. (Further diversifying his business, he also dealt in typewriters.)
Kitto’s Landing was included in the civic directory for a few more years — along with resident fruitgrower W. Kitto — before falling into obscurity.
Elizabeth Kitto died in Nelson in 1929 of malignant endocarditis and myocarditis, age 60. Henry retired to Vancouver around 1942. One night, while crossing a street on a dark, rainy night to catch a bus, he was struck and killed by a car. He was 88.
No births, marriages, or deaths were ever recorded at Kitto’s Landing. It’s not recognized by the BC Geographic Names database. But it’s not quite forgotten: Henry and Elizabeth Kitto’s granddaughter Karen Bond still lives in Nelson.
Previous installments in this series