ABOVE: This photo was identified as Three Forks

COLUMN: Rare Kuskonook photo surfaces (we think)

A mystery photo in the Kootenay Lake Archives turns out to be a rare view of the boom town of Kuskonook in 1898. Or so I think.

A mystery photo in the Kootenay Lake Archives labelled Three Forks turns out to be a rare view of the boom town of Kuskonook in 1898. Or so I think.

The dry-mounted picture shows several wooden commercial buildings on an embankment with a boardwalk and two sets of stairs in front.

The buildings include a general store, drug store, tobacconist/poolroom/fruit stand called The Club and two multi-storey hotels — the sign on one reads “Klondyke Hotel, A. Manson, Prop.”

There’s a big stump and some boulders in the foreground and forested mountains in the background. At least 20 men pose on the street.

A handwritten label at the bottom says “Three Forks, BC, 1892” but someone crossed it out and wrote “Ainsworth” — only to cross it out again and restore it to Three Forks.

No photographer is indicated.

Kootenay Lake archivist Elizabeth Scarlett says the photo’s provenance is unknown because the historical society acquired it before the archives was established.

The picture intrigued Victoria researcher Peter Smith, who notes first of all that the date is almost certainly wrong. Klondyke (or Klondike) hotels only started sprouting up after the Yukon gold rush began in 1897.

Secondly, there was no Klondyke Hotel in Three Forks, a ghost town in the Slocan, although there were ones in Sandon, Nelson, and Robson.

A. Manson, however, was not the proprietor of those although he did run the Grove Hotel in Nelson for a while. On the 1898 BC voters list, Alfred Manson is listed as a hotelier in Kuskonook, and indeed, the civic directory for that year shows he ran a Klondyke Hotel there.

Kuskonook, on the east shore of Kootenay Lake, came to life during construction of first the BC Southern Railway and then the Bedlington and Nelson Railway. It was a rough place, with several saloons and at least one murder.

Beyond the hotel, however, there isn’t much else to verify the photo as Kuskonook. A sign above the drug store appears to read in part “—TERS.” In 1898, the town druggist was James M. Patterson. Might that sign have borne his name?

The photo isn’t immediately recognizable as Kusknonook because it doesn’t show Kootenay Lake, which is presumably off camera range to the right. Also, hardly any photos of Kuskonook exist.

Tammy Hardwick of the Creston Museum said she is only aware of one in the BC Archives, also believed to have been taken about 1898. It does show the lake but none of the buildings appear to match.

Kuskonook burned down on March 21, 1900, including more than 30 homes. Most were unoccupied, but the remaining residents were left destitute. A relief committee was organized in Nelson to help them.

Nelson city councillor Robin Cherbo has a strong connection to old Kuskonook — his grandfather Pedro Cherbo was co-proprietor with Gimmi Mannerino of the Union Hotel, one of only three buildings to survive the fire.

Cherbo maintains a mining claim his grandfather staked in the area, the Osprey No. 1, and has a few old documents and early letterheads, but alas, no photos.

The naming of Kuskonook is confusing and complex, but it is derived either from a Salish term meaning “long point” or a Ktunaxa term meaning “edge or end of lake.” It is also written Kuskanook, which is how the CPR spelled it when it launched a sternwheeler by that name in 1906.

You can see Kuskonook on a map below.

View Larger Map

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

Nelson hospice starts Walk and Talk group in Lakeside Park

The Walk and Talk Grief Group is offered free to anyone grieving the death of a loved one

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

RDCK to implement new emergency alert notification system

System also includes sends alerts for water advisories

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read